Monday, October 22, 2018

Outrageous Oatmeal Cookies

After taking my first bite of one of these cookies, I said to my boyfriend, "You know, I think these might be the best oatmeal cookies I've ever had." And seriously, I stand by that statement.

These are SO. GOOD.

Outrageous Oatmeal Cookies by freshfromthe.com.

Generally, I'm not a huge oatmeal cookie person. Give me a choice between a chocolate chip and an oatmeal, and I will always choose a chocolate chip. But if you told me that the oatmeal cookie was going to be one of these, I might just choose it instead.

Why are they so good, you wonder? I could tell just from the dough they were going to be good, but  I think why they're so good is a combination of the browned butter, and said browned butter being swirled around with the cinnamon while it's still hot. That just really opened up the flavors.

Outrageous Oatmeal Cookies by freshfromthe.com.

Now, they do have a tendency to get crumbly, but heck, if that's the case, get yourself some good vanilla ice cream and sprinkle those crumbles on top! Or even make yourself an oatmeal cookie ice cream sandwich. I didn't have any vanilla ice cream, but man that sounds amazing.

They also aren't going to stay moist for very long, but that's probably not going to be a problem, right? They're going to get eaten pretty quickly, duh.

Outrageous Oatmeal Cookies by freshfromthe.com.



Outrageous Oatmeal Cookies

The best oatmeal cookies you'll ever have? You be the judge. For me, that's a yes.

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg plus 1 large yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups (9 ounces) old-fashioned rolled oats
Instructions:

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour, salt, and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.
  2. Melt butter in 8-inch skillet over medium-high heat, swirling pan occasionally, until foaming subsides. Continue to cook, stirring and scraping bottom of pan with heat-resistant spatula, until milk solids are dark golden brown and butter has nutty aroma, 1 to 2 minutes. Immediately transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl, scraping skillet with spatula. Stir in cinnamon.
  3. Add brown sugar, granulated sugar, and oil to bowl with butter and whisk until combined. Add egg and yolk and vanilla and whisk until mixture is smooth. Using wooden spoon or spatula, stir in flour mixture until fully combined, about 1 minute. Add oats and stir until evenly distributed (mixture will be stiff).
  4. Divide dough into 20 portions, each about 3 tablespoons (or use #24 cookie scoop). Arrange dough balls 2 inches apart on prepared sheets, 10 dough balls per sheet. Using your damp hand, press each ball into 2 1/2-inch disk.
  5. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, until cookie edges are set and lightly browned and centers are still soft but not wet, 8 to 10 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. Let cookies cool on sheet on wire rack for 5 minutes; using wide metal spatula, transfer cookies to wire rack and let cool completely.
Recipe via Cook's Illustrated

Outrageous Oatmeal Cookies by freshfromthe.com.
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Thursday, October 18, 2018

Supernatural 14x02 "Gods and Monsters"

Well, that was quick. Only two episodes with Michael inhabiting Dean's body, huh? Of course, it seems like a trap, so maybe Michael's just laying low in Dean's body for now or something. Not sure that's even possible, but who knows!

Jensen Ackles as Dean Winchester/Michael in Supernatural 14x02 "Gods and Monsters"That's jumping ahead, though. This week we catch up with Michael's plans a bit. He's been tracking down vampires and trying to feed them some mixture of angel grace and blood or something in order to create super versions of them. The testing stages leave some bodies lying around with burned out eyes that bring the others in his direction, but I'll get to that in a minute. Eventually he meets with an alpha werewolf and gets him to agree to give his solution whatsit to his werewolves, and that's about all we know about his ultimate plans.

Meanwhile, the others get wind of these dead bodies with the burned out eyes and figure it must be Michael. Sam, Mary, and Bobby head out to track him down, leaving Cas and Jack behind. For Cas, it's because he's an angel and would draw attention. For Jack, it's because he's pretty green without his super special powers, which has left him feeling pretty low and worthless. After some chats with Cas, he decides to seek out his mother's parents, the Klines. Apparently they don't even know that their daughter is dead, but at least Jack has some sense and doesn't tell them that he's their grandson, despite obviously heavily wanting to. He also doesn't tell them that Kelly is dead, even though it seemed like at least her dad kind of got the hint.

Samantha Smith as Mary Winchester and Jared Padalecki as Sam Winchester in Supernatural 14x02 "Gods and Monsters"Cas also tries to sort of chat with Nick, the ole Lucifer-suit who's still hanging around for reasons unknown to this viewer. He's starting to get some memories back of his time as Lucifer, and wonders why he would ever say yes. Now I don't remember if we actually saw why he said yes originally, but I think it's basically implied that he killed his whole family with a hammer? Basically, he finds out that his family was murdered and the case hasn't been solved. Cas for some reason lets him go off to try to investigate, and he ends up talking to the neighbor who reported seeing someone there. When the neighbor tries to backpedal on that bit of his story, Nick loses it and kills him with a hammer, which he had just said was how his family had been killed. So either he's trying to be poetic by killing this guy in the way his family was killed, or the implication is that he was the killer. Or maybe that was already openly shown back in season five and I just don't remember!

Anyway, Sam, Mary, and Bobby track down a vampire and she tells them where she thinks Michael will be, blah blah. They fight some of the super-powered werewolves, who are immune to silver. And then Dean just kind of walks in and is like hi guys, not sure where Michael is but he just left so I'm here, okay? Okay then!

Random Thoughts:

- I quite enjoyed the scene with Jack and his grandparents. It was pretty sad that they didn't know what had happened to her, and also sad that he couldn't tell them who he really was either. So much sadness!

- I honestly thought Michael was going to go and ask Nick to be his vessel there at the end, but nope. At least not for now, anyway.

- What is Michael's grand plan, anyhow? This whole wanting to promote beings he sees as pure or what-have-you is kind of silly.

- There was also a brief mention that Jack could get his powers back in as early as a month, or it could take a century. Basically, whenever the show decides they need a nice deus ex machina!

Quotes:

Bobby: Who goes to Duluth in October?

Michael: Did you honestly think I don't know what you are? You think you picked me? I picked you.

Castiel: There are worse ways to be human than being kind.

Previous Episode

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Supernatural 14x01 "Stranger in a Strange Land"

Back in the saddle again, I guess! Yep, we're back to another season of Supernatural, which started with kind of an... ehhhhh, okay. In case you forgot, basically they saved a bunch of people from another world, but in order to do so, Dean had to say yes to Michael taking over his body, and so now he's still possessed by him, and Sam and the others don't know where he is, blah blah.

Jensen Ackles as Dean Winchester/Michael and Danneel Ackles as Anael in Supernatural 14x01 "Stranger in a Strange Land"So where is he? Just, you know, roaming around asking a bunch of people and angels and otherwise nasty things what they want. Mostly he seems to be unsatisfied with their answers, as I guess he's looking for an ally to "make a better world" in his eyes. Apparently he decides that a vampire is the right type of thing to team up with, as that's who he's teaming up with at the end of the episode. And that's about all we saw of Michael/Dean this episode!

Meanwhile, Team Free Will is very much down in the dumps as it's been a few weeks and they can't find Dean or a way to get him free of Michael. What they can find is Castiel acting a dunce bucket and getting duped by some demons, leading said demons to call up Sam to make a deal to hand over Castiel. In exchange for what, one wonders? We find that out once Sam and company arrive -- apparently this new charismatic demon named Kip wants to have the deal Crowley did. Basically, he gives Sam information and Sam looks the other way about demon dealings.

Sam's in no mood for such suggestions, and so with the help of mostly Mary and Bobby, with Jack and this girl Maggie tagging along pretty much to get beat up and stuff, Sam manages to kill this Kip, and basically tells the other demons that he doesn't intend to let anyone become to new the King of Hell, and they can take it up with him if they have a problem with that. Said demons promptly smoke out of their human hosts because Sam Winchester is so scary with his depresso beard, man.
Alexander Calvert as Jack, Misha Collins as Castiel, and Jared Padalecki as Sam Winchester in Supernatural 14x01 "Stranger in a Strange Land"

Jack also does a fair bit of moping throughout the episode because his grace was drained by Lucifer and he's without powers and feels helpless. Sam and Cas try to comfort him, but what probably really comforts him is the fact that his grace should come back over time? Okay, never knew that before.

Also, apparently Nick, Lucifer's host body aka Mark Pellegrino, survived getting stabbed, and somehow also made it over to this world? Did I miss that happening? Man, guys, sometimes you just have to let characters go eventually. I mean, really.

Finally, the episode ended with Anael aka Sister Jo aka the one angel we saw Michael talk to because it was probably fun for Jensen and Danneel Ackles to do a scene together again... whoa that sentence got unwieldy! Basically Anael calls up Sam at the end of the episode because she's not too happy about this new Michael being around. Dun dun dun!

Random Thoughts:

- Way to go, CW, with spoiling that Lucifer aka Nick was going to be around in the commercial before it actually happened!

- What do people think of Jensen playing Michael for a bit?

- I actually liked that demon character, Kip, so boo hoo for me that he got killed off so quickly.

- Classic episode of Supes just waiting around with not much actually happening.

Quotes:

Jamil: What do you want?
Michael: What I've always wanted. A better world.

Kip: How is it that you lost Dean? I thought you two were joined at the... everything.

Kip: But it's like salt water taffy, or infants. I just like the taste.

Kip: You are a damn legend, Sam. An icon. The shoulders. The hair. You are my Beyonce.

Sam: That's what I thought.

Jack: All I did was get punched in the face.
Castiel: To be fair, we all got punched in the face.

Previous Episode -- Next Episode

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Book Review: A Reaper at the Gates (An Ember in the Ashes #3) by Sabaa Tahir

A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir

Published: June 12, 2018

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Hardcover Pages: 464

Synopsis: Beyond the Empire and within it, the threat of war looms ever larger.

The Blood Shrike, Helene Aquilla, is assailed on all sides. Emperor Marcus, haunted by his past, grows increasingly unstable, while the Commandant capitalizes on his madness to bolster her own power. As Helene searches for a way to hold back the approaching darkness, her sister's life and the lives of all those in the Empire hang in the balance.

Far to the east, Laia of Serra knows the fate of the world lies not in the machinations of the Martial court, but in stopping the Nightbringer. But while hunting for a way to bring him down, Laia faces unexpected threats from those she hoped would aid her, and is drawn into a battle she never thought she'd have to fight.

And in the land between the living and the dead, Elias Veturius has given up his freedom to serve as Soul Catcher. But in doing so, he has vowed himself to an ancient power that will stop at nothing to ensure Elias's devotion--even at the cost of his humanity.

Thoughts: First and foremost, I absolutely loved An Ember in the Ashes, so much so that it was one of my top books of 2015. That said, I didn't love the sequel, A Torch Against the Night, nearly as much. Now this isn't the first time this has happened. In fact, I can think of two other times off the top of my head that I had the same experience - the Red Rising series, and the Legend series. I loved the first books in those series so very much, but they all did the same thing in the sequels - completely changed the dynamic of the story.

Obviously stories evolve and change, but when a first book is so set in a certain place or setting, and the sequels turn the story into something completely different, I'm finding I don't enjoy them as much. I think it often has to do with there being more war and such, which I'm just not very into, personally. It's tough because often these stories are about oppressed people rising up, and inevitably there will be war, it's just not as interesting to me.

But I digress! What do I think of this book? I liked it better than Torch, but not as much as Ember. Part of it has to do with what I said above - there is war and politics, but not all between the characters I really connected with in the previous books. Elias changes dramatically here, and not in a way that makes you care more about him. In fact, it distances not only the characters, but also the audience from him.

On the other hand, Helene aka the Blood Shrike, becomes a much more prominent character, and that I actually did appreciate and enjoy as she is another complex character. I also went into it thinking this was going to be the last book for some reason, only now to realize there will be one more, so things are left unresolved, but with our different lead characters coming together and moving apart in different ways. It will be interesting to see where things go in the final book. Will another character come to the forefront, or will it stick to these three? I'm looking forward to it, because I do want to see how thing wrap up -- I'm sure Ms. Tahir has some interesting twists and turns ahead!

Rating: 4/5

What I'm Reading Next: Lethal White (Cormoran Strike #4) by Robert Galbraith

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Chai Spice Chocolate Chip Cookies

Living in Southern California, fall doesn't really start to feel like fall for some time. October has begun, and it's still sunny and in the 70s here. You get so used to it, that when you hear a "shhhhh" noise one night that you can't quite figure out the source of, it takes a few minutes to figure out that, oh, it's actual rain!

Because, yeah, these cookies are great for rainy days.

Chai Spice Chocolate Chip Cookies by freshfromthe.com.

First, I have to confess that I wasn't very sure about these cookies at first. The chai spices are strong, and if you're not into those, then you probably won't like these. What I found most interesting, though, was that I enjoyed them more after I had frozen the dough and then baked them, rather than just after the refrigerating step. I'm not sure if it just gave the flavors more time to meld, or if it affected how they baked up slightly to change them just a touch, but I definitely enjoyed them more then.

Answer: it's probably just me having a weird palate or something?

Chai Spice Chocolate Chip Cookies by freshfromthe.com.

If you're looking to spice up (hyuck hyuck) your chocolate chip cookie game, give these a go, especially if you enjoy yourself some chai tea. They're full of spice and very nice!

Chai Spice Chocolate Chip Cookies by freshfromthe.com.


Write recipe photo description here

Perfect for the fall with a cup of chai tea.

Ingredients:
  • 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chunks
Instructions:

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, allspice, black pepper, and salt. Set aside for now.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, add the melted butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. Beat together until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating until combined. Pour in the vanilla extract and beat one more time.
  3. Dump all of the flour mixture into the standing mixer and turn it on low speed. Mix until the flour is mostly combined, then increase the speed until there are no more specks of flour. Pour in the chocolate chunks and mix on low on more time. Transfer the dough to the fridge to chill for an hour or up to 2 days. At this stage, you can scoop out individual cookies, stick them in a bag, and freeze them for later use.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, or a silpat liner. Or if you just have one baking sheet, that's fine too.
  5. Using a medium cookie scoop, scoop out balls of dough onto prepared sheets, about 6 or 7 to a sheet, spaced apart a bit to allow for spread. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes. If the dough is very chilled or frozen you may need closer to 10 minutes. Once they are goldena light to medium golden brown, take them out. You can sprinkle with some salt at this point if you like.
Recipe via A Cozy Kitchen

Chai Spice Chocolate Chip Cookies by freshfromthe.com.
Chai Spice Chocolate Chip Cookies by freshfromthe.com.