New Home, New Life, New Grill

I’m in Boulder! I live somewhere again. It’s so nice to live in my own space with my own friendly things around me.

I’ve been here a few weeks and so far so good, though unpacking boxes and furniture that were in storage for a year was like opening up a wrinkled dust bowl. Which doesn’t even make sense, but there was dust. And wrinkled everything. And I didn’t have internet for a week and a half. I realized that I’ve never moved from one house to another like normal people do – I’ve always flitted off to somewhere random and left everything at my parents’ house for months, or gave all the furniture to Goodwill because it wasn’t worth keeping and then just bought new stuff. Does having nice furniture that deserves storage space mean I’m a real grownup now? So I had to do things like buy a lightbulb for every single lamp, and discover all the shoes and coats I stored for a year and forgot about, and buy so many clothes hangers and organization bins I think I’ve kept Target in business for at least another month. Normal moving has got to be simpler, right? You just put everything in a truck, and then it comes out of the truck an hour or a day later and everything is just the way it was when you put it in? That sounds so lovely.

In the spirit of a new place and new things – and also of being out of New York City and therefore in a normal place where there is, amazingly, outdoor space – I have a tiny patio and I love it! So I bought a gorgeous outdoor grill for it. When I lived in New York, I moaned a lot about how so many recipes require grills and my grill pan was just not getting it done, and grilling is just not practical for anyone in NYC who isn’t Bobby Flay? I’ve joined the ranks of all those annoying people with space for grills. Sorry guys. But IT’S AWESOME.

When I was debating whether or not the grill was worth the money, I remembered that my Aunt Loren told me she uses her grill all the time, even in the winter, because it cooks things quickly, easily, and there are no pots and pans to clean. I figured, ok, if I use it year-round, it’ll be a good investment. So far, I’ve not cooked anything on the stove in five days, and it really does clean up in 5 seconds flat. This will be a wintertime staple, I do believe.

I’ve been making homemade turkey burgers like its my job, and I’ll put the recipe up one of these days but I think its a fairly standard recipe that no one is going to flip out over. And so is the following one, really, but it blew my mind so I’m sharing it. Grilled peaches.

Everything you’ve heard is true. They are GOOD.

Turn the grill on to medium-high heat (mine went up to about 400 degrees with the lid down). Wash the peach, dry it, cut it into quarters. Spray or brush high heat canola oil on them so they don’t stick to the grill or burn. I hear butter works too.

Sprinkle a liberal amount of cinnamon on them, and then a dash of nutmeg and/or cloves, and a dash of salt.

Grill for 4-5 minutes on one side and 3-4 minutes on the other side.

Eat.

I can imagine all sorts of variations on the theme – balsamic syrup, vanilla beans, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, cognac whipped cream, cinnamon cognac whipped cream…..

Ginger Cookie Whoopie Pies

Remember when I was lusting after making THESE?

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I made them for Christmas, and YUM. Sweet, tangy, and with a nice gingery bite at the end.

I combined Baked Perfection’s recipe and Martha’s filling recipe, and it came out wonderfully. The recipe made about 16 whoopie pies.

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They’re thick, though, and big (that’s what she said ;). One cookie at one sitting is exactly right, and don’t forget the milk.

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Ginger Cookie and Cream Cheese Filling Sandwiches

Aren’t soft ginger cookies heavenly?
Photo from Baked Perfection
Photo from Baked Perfection

Now imagine them sandwiching a pillowy layer of cream cheese filling. SO good. I had this at a Halloween party this year and decided I must figure out the recipe.

Martha has a recipe for much the same thing except with pumpkin cookies, but I think ginger sounds better.

This looks like a perfect recipe for those soft big ginger sandwich cookies: Baked Perfection’s Big Soft Ginger Cookies (photo above)

I can’t wait to try making these over Christmas break!

Chocolate Covered Snow Peaks

My family goes to a cookie swap every year, so I’m on the hunt for fun and different Christmas cookies that pack a visual punch. It’s quite a point of pride if your cookies are all gone sooner than anyone else’s. In the words of Barney Stinson: “Challenge ACCEPTED.”

Don’t these meringues look so tasty?

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Tyler Florence’s Chocolate Covered Snow Peaks

Back to Cookie Basics

Have I mentioned that I’ve also been mostly off sweets since January? I decided that I was tired of having that craving for sweet desserts and, as I am definitely an Abstainer rather than a Moderator (information that has given me tremendous peace of mind – thank you Gretchen Rubin!), I had to quit cold turkey. Wintertime raspberries that are $5 per pint don’t seem so expensive when you’re fighting buying five cupcakes on the way home, so I made sure I had lots of fruit in the house every day so I could have something sweet after dinner. If I went out for dinner, I’d get a special glass of port or a nice cheese when everyone else got dessert so that I didn’t feel like I was missing out. That worked. After about a month I felt the craving was pretty under control, and after two months I stopped wanted sugary things – for the most part.

I love losing the cravings for sweets and not feeling beholden to the desire for sugar. However, I take short breaks from my sweet fast during which I can have whatever I like, and one of those breaks is now. This way, I don’t feel like I’m deprived forever. I know a break is coming up, and I know I can make it until then, when I can have whatever I like.

So on my first full day on vacation, when I had absolutely nothing I had to do, nowhere I had to be, and nothing I had to learn or turn in, I decided to go back to the beginning and make Brown Butter Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies (recipe here).

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God, I love these cookies. SO good. Just so good. I came away awfully proud of myself for making them the signature sweet of BB&B. One batch made 22 cookies, and I once again ate nothing else for dinner. Which I feel fine about, since I’ll go off sweets again next week! Until then, I’m eating as much my tummy can handle.

Chocolate Blueberry Sauce

I was eating some vanilla ice cream the other night and had the thought that it was a little boring and I wished I had a sauce with it. Then I realized I had blueberries in the fridge, and fifteen minutes later I had the loveliest sauce for my boring vanilla.

I’m minorly (read: totally) proud of myself.

Chocolate Blueberry Sauce

  • About a cup of fresh blueberries. This would work equally well with frozen, just use a little less water
  • ½ cup of water
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon cornstarch
  • zest of half a lemon
  • 2 heaping teaspoons cocoa (or to taste)

Stick all the ingredients  in a small pot and bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Smash blueberries with the back of a spoon against the side of the pan until you get bored. (A potato masher would also work really well, but I don’t have one.) Add two heaping teaspoons of good cocoa and whisk it in. Let it simmer until it thickens to your preference.

Either eat it when hot, or put it in the fridge to cool down.  Personally, I couldn’t wait (hence, the meltiness in the photograph). I did have some the next day though, when it was cold, and it had thickened up even more and was SO good.

This would also be a wonderful sauce over brownies alone, ice cream with brownies, a meringue, pound cake, or even over coffee cake in the morning.

Torrey’s Monkey Bread

http://livinginthewoodsandmakingstuff.com/2010/03/29/monkey-bread/

http://livinginthewoodsandmakingstuff.com/2010/03/29/monkey-bread/

Torrey made Monkey Bread this weekend! Look at all that heavenly cinnamon and sugar. I really need to get around to it now :)

I’m working on my menu for Easter Brunch, so maybe I can add it in. Check back tomorrow for menu and decor plans!

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