Monday, September 1, 2014

Soft Oatmeal Cookies

It's Labor Day, which I hope means most of you are off work today. Yay to long weekends! I must say, it's been a bit hot here in LA lately, so baking anything has been a little bit on the "ugh" side when you live in a place with no air conditioning. Normally, it's fine because we get a decent breeze coming off the ocean a few miles away, but it's been especially humid this summer so... bluck!

Nonetheless, last night I was determined to make something to share with all of you, and my boyfriend made a request for oatmeal cookies. Now, if I'd had my druthers, I would probably have made some homemade brownies, but he is one of those crazy people who doesn't like chocolate. I know, right? Also, I didn't have enough chocolate to make the kind I wanted to make, so poo.

Anyhow, these soft oatmeal cookies are chewy and have a little hint of cinnamon. The BF is not the biggest fan of the cinnamon addition, but I kind of like it myself. It gives it a little extra bit of flavor without shouting at you that there's a bunch of cinnamon. To each their own! If you don't like cinnamon, then you can go ahead and omit it from the below recipe.

If you would like your cookies to not spread as much, go ahead and stick the dough in the fridge for a couple hours. I was not in the mood to wait around for refrigerated dough, so these ended up being a little bit flatter than I normally like. BUT! They still taste really good and are just as chewy and soft, so it's no big deal.

Soft Oatmeal Cookies

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Cream together the butter and two sugars until combined (in a large bowl). Add in the eggs and beat until smooth. Next, stir in the flour, baking soda, baking powder and ground cinnamon.
  3. Finally, add in the oats and stir until combined. You can also put in any desired add-ins at this stage as well (ie raisins).
  4. Scoop dough onto your cookie sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes depending on the size of your cookies. They will be light brown in color. Remove from the oven and let sit on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before moving them to wire racks to cool completely. 
Recipe via What's Cooking America

I did not take photos of the whole process this time around, as I was baking them at night and you know those night pictures never turn out very well thanks to no natural light. So I hope you enjoy the pictures of just the final product this time around!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Friday Round Up

I'm trying something new here on the blog. Perhaps some of you will think I am copying others, and perhaps I was inspired by others who do something similar, but what the heck! I'm gonna do it anyway! This new segment will be a weekly review of things on the web I have found interesting for the week. It's mostly all baking and TV around here, but this is my chance to show you what else I'm interested in as well. So let's get to this week's Friday Round Up!

I love space. Perhaps you know this about me, perhaps you don't. But in another life, I became an astronomer. NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman is up on the International Space Station taking pictures for all of us to awe at. Seriously. Go look at those pictures and NOT be amazed.

I am over the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Sorry, but really, look at this graphic of what diseases we donate money to versus the ones people actually die from. There is quite the discrepancy here, though I will say that the heart disease statistic is perhaps a bit exaggerated for the purposes of the graphic. As in, that one is, in part, preventable by both diet and exercise not counting any congenital defects going on. That's not to say we should not be trying to cure any of the smaller diseases, but right now the ALS thing feels like people just jumping on a bandwagon rather than actually caring about the cause. I mean, good for them for coming up with this marketing tactic, because it has been wildly successful, but perhaps some of this donated money should be spread around?

Student loan debt is terrifying. These stats are really sad. Personally, I have a lot of student loan debt. I even wrote up a whole article about it that I haven't figured out quite what to do with, but basically student loan debt is terrible and growing and making life difficult for many young people. It's something I am constantly thinking about in my life. How will I pay these off? When will they ever get paid off? Because sometimes it feels like never! I might have been able to buy a house by now if not for the loan debt, and that is just sad.

The California drought is for real. I've seen quite a few articles with before and after pictures, but here is one that should give you pause (and perhaps invite terror). Seriously, it's not good. Quit wasting water, please. We're only heading to worse places, just look at this article about how the US southwest could be facing decades long drought. Decades! And these scientists reacting to climate change discussions? It really scares me. This is why I get so incensed when Time Warner Cable still sends me paper bills even though I have gone paperless. You are WASTING PAPER! STOP IT!

Let's lighten things up a bit now! Sorry, that was all rather serious.

I found out recently my boyfriend loves banana bread, so I ended up pinning all kinds of delicious-looking banana things: Fudgy Banana Bars with Browned Butter Glaze. Banana Bread Crumb Cake. Banana Poppy Seed Cake with Vanilla Bean Frosting. Peanut Butter Graham Banana Bread. Yes please to all!

Yes, I had a Tamagotchi. Here is a list of 28 things including the Tamagotchi that today's kids will never understand. Oh the bing bong bong of dial up internet, I don't miss you.

Pandas are just like people. They can fake pregnancies too. Wait, what? Yes, it's true. I had a good laugh about that one. I also learned a lot about pandas, like they will only have babies at most every two years, and if they have twins, will let one die! Poor twin pandas.

This buzzfeed article about celebrities not aging is bogus. They haven't aged because you only have pictures from a few years apart! Get it together, buzzfeed, and don't just go for splashy headlines.

And, finally, the prancing cat who lives with show horses:

How can you not love a good cat gif?

Have a great holiday weekend!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

SYTYCD S11 - Top 4 Perform

Can you believe we're only one week away from the finale? Where has the summer gone? Gone fast away, is what it's done. Anyhow, joining Nigel and Mary on the judging panel tonight is Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who we haven't seen in quite some time. Tonight the dancers are just performing, and their votes from last week and this week will be combined together for the final vote to determine who wins next week. And as a side note, Cat looks great tonight in that sparkly fringe number.

Okay! On to the dances. Tonight everyone dances together and with an all-star.

Valerie and Ricky - African jazz from Sean Cheesman. You know, I am quite often critical of Valerie, but she seemed pretty great in that one, though I do think she had a bit of a weird face sometimes. That was definitely a highly energetic routine and they were in sync how they were supposed to be.

Jessica and Zack - Broadway from Spencer Liff. That was a super cute and fun routine. I rarely like Broadway numbers, but that one felt more like a jazz piece than anything. They were both really great in it as well, they look like they could go straight to Broadway right now. I always wonder when they have a dress that whips around a bit if it can be a bit distracting or if it ever gets caught in the shoe funny. Anyhow.

Valerie and Zack - Contemporary from Tyce Diorio. I know we already saw them do a tap routine together, but I kind of wish we were again. Oh well. Valerie has to act blind in this one. Tyce loves to do stuff like that. But I feel like it gives Zack a bit of an advantage because he is really doing more dancing than her. That was overall a quiet routine, more acting than dancing really.

Jessica and Ricky - Jazz from Ray Leeper. Obviously nothing can really top their other routine together, but that was still a lot of fun from them. They were hitting it hard. It's really too bad we haven't seen them do more routines together because they really do work really well together.

Jessica and Valerie - Bollywood from Nakul. I don't think we've ever seen a two girl version of the Bollywood, have we? It felt a little short for some reason. I thought Jessica was a bit sharper in her hand movements, though Valerie still did well. Jessica just looked like she felt a little bit more comfortable.

Zack and Ricky - Hip hop from Phoenix and Pharside. That routine was tons of fun, probably my favorite of the night so far. They were both hitting it incredibly hard, honestly they both did it so well, could not tell that they aren't hip hop dancers. If I had to give it to one of them, since it was technically a battle, you know what? I have to give it to Zack! I think he hit it just a little bit harder. Yeah Zack! They get one of the only Mary screams of the season, and yes they deserve it.

Valerie and all-star Aaron - Tap from Anthony Morigerato. This is a classic example of telling a story without any words. Their feet are doing all of the talking here, and it's great that you can do that with tap. That was definitely a fun number, and I'm happy that we got to see some tap in the performance finale. "Nigel's on a Burning Man vibe, he loves everybody!" Haha, thanks Cat.

Ricky - Solo. Wow. Definitely one of the best solos I think I've ever seen on this show, and I've seen a lot of them.

Ricky and all-star Kathryn - Contemporary from Stacey Tookey. Ethereal, quite beautiful routine. I liked the soft music in this one; it really complimented the routine very well. Crazy that he went from that hip hop to this contemporary without breaking a sweat. "Hey Ricky you're so great, if you were older we could date" - that's just one of the many bon mots from Jesse Tyler Ferguson tonight. And then Nigel brings it around to suicide issues, eesh.

Valerie - Solo. Did she just dance to a song of her own name? I honestly wish she would've just done one without any music, but whatevs.

Zack and all-star Aaron - Tap from Anthony Morigerato. That routine brought a big smile to my face. They are really on par with one another. And I really loved that ending bit where they were matching the beats to the music so well. I always love to see Zack do tap because he really is so great at it. I'm not writing about it a lot necessarily, but it was one of the best of the night as well.

Jessica - Solo. Interesting choice of doing the same son as she did in her audition. Is this the same routine in general? Wait, did I miss that that's what they're all doing or is it just her? Confused!

Jessica and all-star Robert - Contemporary from Travis Wall. Well, as if you would expect anything less than greatness from that combination of dancers and choreographer, right? I also liked the red lighting for that routine, it really made it stark and cool with that song selection.

Zack - Solo. Never knew he had to go to choreography in his audition! Interesting. That was a fun little routine, it was nice to see him pair to some music well at the end there.

Well! That's it for tonight! Next week is the big finale. Who are you hoping to see take home the crown? Do we think there will be an upset or does Ricky just have this in the bag already? The only one I would be upset at seeing win would probably be Valerie. She's good, yes, but not the best left here. Until next time!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Butterscotch Cookies

I know not everyone is a big butterscotch fan, though I can't say I really know why! Because I do love me some butterscotch. My question, however, is this - what even is butterscotch? I mean, it's basically just sugar, right? Like, sort of caramelized sugar? I could be wrong. I could go research this on the interwebs and find out for certain, but who wants to do that? I like to just conjecture wildly! 

Anyway, I tried the whole chocolate chip cookie version of this, using vanilla pudding mix and, duh, chocolate chips, and they turned out pretty nicely, so I began to wonder just how a cookie using a butterscotch mix would taste. So here we have some straight up butterscotch chip cookies. I mean, these are full on. If you like butterscotch, you will love these. If you're not a big fan? Well, maybe steer clear. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Maybe in the future I will try a variation on these cookies that are more reminiscent of my favorite cookie bars. Those have chocolate chips and marshmallows mixed in, and are deliciously gooey and sugary. Marshmallows don't always work in cookie form, though, so some experimenting may be in order. Nonetheless, if you don't want to wait around for that, try these out!

Butterscotch Cookies

For the butterscotch lovers of the world, these butterscotch cookies are chock full of chips as well as pudding mix!

Prep time: 75 minutes (including cooling time)
Cook time: 10-12 minutes
Total time: 110 minutes
Yield: Approximately 2 dozen

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 small box instant butterscotch pudding
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups butterscotch chips
  • coarse sea salt (optional)
Cooking Directions
  1. Whisk together your flour, pudding powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Set aside for now. In a mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugars until creamy. Then beat in your egg and vanilla until nice and smooth.
  2. Slowly add your dry mixture into your wet, mixing slowly until just combined. Stir in your butterscotch chips. Then cover that bowl and stick it in the fridge for an hour.
  3. Preheat your oven to 350F. Scoop out your dough, I use a scooper, and place onto a parchment or silpat-lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Then, if you want a little extra, sprinkle immediately with the salt. Cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then you can remove them to a wire rack to cool completely.
(Recipe via Creme de la Crumb)
In Photos:

Whisk together your dry ingredients - flour, pudding mix, baking soda.

In your mixer, beat together your butter and sugars.

Then, beat in your egg and vanilla. Finally, mix in your flour mixture until just combined.

Then add in your butterscotch chips. You can totally use the whole bag here if you like, but I don't like an overabundance of chips in my cookies, so I only used maybe 1/2 to 3/4 of the bag. A very exact science here. Cover and stick this in the fridge for an hour.

Preheat your oven to 350F. Then, scoop out your dough onto your silpat or parchment-lined baking sheet. If you want some chips to show on top, make sure to stick some on. I'm still working on the best way to do this!

 Bake for 10-12 minutes. You can see they are just starting to brown around the edges. That's about right. Let those sit on your pan for 5 minutes to continue cooking.

Then you can remove them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Then eat to your heart's content!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

SYTYCD S11 - Top 6 Perform, 2 Eliminated

Only a few more episodes left in this season of SYTYCD! Tonight is the pre-performance finale, and I'm not quite sure who is going to make through apart from Ricky and Jessica, who seem to be shoe-ins at this point. But, before we get to that, we have tonight's dances to contend with, and joining Nigel and Mary on the judging panel is returning favorite Christina Applegate. And apparently the voices cast tonight are going to be added into the votes from next week's show to determine the final vote.

Ricky and Valerie - Broadway from Spencer Liff. Cute little routine, perfect for the pair of them together with their cutesiness. Ricky just glides across the stage, his extensions are crazy. Valerie held her own as well. I know I'm always a bit more critical of her, but it's just hard when she's next to such amazing other dancers.

Jessica and Casey - Disco from Doriana Sanchez. First of all, her hair is crazy. That opening spin lift move? Also crazy. This is one dance where her face pulling works better. This is definitely a lift-centric dance and probably Casey is maybe the only male dancer left who could really pull it off. It did end a little bit abruptly, though, right? But it was pretty great besides that. I'm not always a fan of disco but that was pretty fun.

Ricky - Solo. I mean, his legs do these crazy backbend things that are just insane. Always a pleasure to watch his solos.

Jacque and Zack - Foxtrot from Jean Marc Genereux. I really wish Tanisha was still here. Honestly, I'm not sure how Jacque has made it this far, as she never really stands out to me. Not that she's bad or anything of course, just... eh? I wish they were giving Zack some more exciting stuff, but perhaps in his next dance. I just like to see him being so easily versatile. Mary says the routine was a little rough around the edges and not glidey enough. I admit I may have not been paying much attention, which maybe says it all. Nigel says "if you make it through" tonight which does not bode well for them.

Jessica - Solo. I think maybe that was her best solo that I've seen, though we haven't really seen many solos this season.

Valerie and all-star tWitch - Hip hop from Wildebeast. Whoops, missed the little napkin thing. Ehhhhh I'm not so sure about that. Valerie looked much more comfortable in the routine in the rehearsal footage than in this performance. She wasn't quite getting down enough for my taste. This was a pretty cool choreography with a fun little story that I enjoyed, I just kind of wish another girl had done it, though perhaps not any of these girls left in the competition. The judges are all pretty complimentary, though. I don't get it?! Sheesh.

Casey - Solo. He's such an athletic dancer, he really uses his whole body.

Valerie - Solo. This is definitely the most energy I think I've ever seen her show in her solo, which is great.

Jacque and all star Will - Contemporary from Sean Cheesman. This is a cute, sweet little routine. I enjoyed the ball prop in the beginning, they handled it quite well and I kind of wished they had kept it throughout the whole thing. I'm not sure this is the most memorable routine of all time, though Cat says she thinks people will remember it. I guess it is sort of the "ball routine" so that does make it memorable.

Zack - Solo. Why do I like the slide moves from tappers so much? They always look like they're going to fall and then... nope!

Jessica and all star Ade - Jazz from Ray Leeper. OMG what is that outfit? No, just no. It's a shame the outfit is so distracting because the routine is actually a lot of fun and also super weird at the same time. Nonetheless, quite enjoyable. Nigel doesn't love it while the two ladies are a bit more complimentary. He also comments on her solo not being quite up to snuff either.

Jacque - Solo. She has a whole theme to her solo which is fun. Not sure she should've done something as light for this solo, but what can ya do.

Ricky and all star Anya - Cha cha from Jean Marc Genereux. Anya is just too sexy. Somehow I wish she and Tanisha could've done this together, even though that makes no sense. Anyway! I'm not really sure if I know if Ricky did great at that or not, but according to all of the judges he did it well and looked like he had been doing it for years.

Casey and all star Mackenzie - Contemporary from Stacey Tookey. Quite a beautiful routine. It's tough because I wish somehow that both Casey and Zack could move on to the finale instead of one of the other girls. I always seem to be a big fan of the contemporary routines, perhaps because it's the most emotional. Mary calls it the best of the season for him.

Zack and all star Fik-Shun - Hip hop from Phillip Chbeeb. Wow, that was a pretty cool routine. A great idea from Phillip, and always a pleasure to see Fik-Shun doing his great thing. Obviously he was better than Zack because it was just more fluid, but Zack was holding his own. I really enjoyed it and can see why it was the closing number of the night. Jeez Nigel, saying you'd be shocked if he made the finale is a bit rude, at least you tried to cover your tracks there.

But now it's time for the results. Time to find out who has made the finale. And the final four dancers are... Jessica, Ricky, Valerie, Zack

Meaning out tonight are.... Jacque and Casey

Wow! I'm really impressed Zack has made it to the finale! I love Casey as well, but you can only have two out of the three guys so I guess that's just the way it is. Jacque I'm not quite so surprised about, more surprised that she made it this far. Anywho, I think it's pretty much decided that it's between Ricky and Jessica at this point.