January 29, 2014

Pepperoni Pizza Waffles

So, remember how I told you that I've had waffles on the brain lately? And how I'd been playing around with the idea of making a pizza waffle?

I found a recipe.

You guys, this is ground breaking. This means that someone else in the world has a brain that works like mine.

I mean, I've seen plenty of people who make actual pizza in the waffle maker. But that's still pizza. I wanted a pizza flavored waffle. And that's what I got.
These waffles are a fun alternative to garlic bread or breadsticks. Serve them with prepared tomato sauce (I happened to have a pot of gravy in the fridge) for dipping. Best part is, they're super quick to make. They just use pancake mix, grated parmesan, shredded mozzarella, diced pepperoni, and seasoning. Mix it all up with some water and olive oil and slap it into your waffle maker. Ta da, pizza waffles.

I added extra oregano and garlic to mine, since that's how I like my pizza. Feel free to jazz it up however you like.
I actually like these better after they've cooled; all the flavors are more prominent.

Pepperoni Pizza Waffles
Yield: 4 waffles

2½ cups pancake mix (I used Krusteaz Heart Healthy)
1½ tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. dried basil
½ tsp. dried parsley
1½ cups cold water
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup shredded mozzarella
¾ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
¾ cup diced pepperoni
Nonstick cooking spray, or more olive oil, for greasing
Prepared tomato sauce, for dipping

In a large mixing bowl, mix the pancake mix and spices. Add the water and olive oil and mix until combined (some lumps are fine). Add the cheeses and pepperoni, mixing until well incorporated; the batter will be very thick. Grease your waffle maker well and cook according to the manufacturer's instructions. Serve with prepared tomato sauce.

Tip: The batter is very thick, so spread it out a bit before closing the waffle maker. Grease the waffle maker well between waffles to prevent the cheese from sticking if it melts out.

Recipe adapted from Mrs. Fields Secrets

January 26, 2014

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Waffles

I've been in a sort of waffle state of mind lately. I keep thinking about waffles and making them. I keep wondering, "would this be a good flavor combination for a waffle? Would this work if I added it to waffle batter? I wonder if I can put these in the waffle iron."

So when the insomnia monster hit, it was no surprise that I decided to use my not-sleeping time to make waffles.
The only question was what kind? I'd been playing around with the idea of a pizza waffle, but that just seemed too complicated for my no-sleep addled mind. Then the idea came to me: peanut butter. You don't really see peanut butter waffles that often, and it sounded really good to me at the time. I decided to use whole wheat flour to help give it that crispness and heartiness, buttermilk for a good rise, and chocolate chips because, well, duh.
The waffles came out just as I had imagined: crisp, chock-full of peanut butter and chocolate chips. The waffle itself isn't overly sweet, so syrup, powdered sugar, or honey is a must on these puppies. Or you can eat it like I did, with strawberries, extra chocolate chips, and a chocolate peanut butter drizzle (a spoonful of peanut butter and a few chocolate chips melted together in the microwave). I used fruit so that's the healthy way to eat it, right?

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Waffles
Yield: 4 waffles

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together the buttermilk, peanut butter, egg, and vanilla extract. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until a batter forms (some lumps are fine). Fold in the chocolate chips. Cook in a waffle maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Recipe by Kim

January 24, 2014

Stuff and Things 1/24/14

Life as I Know it

It's freeeeeeezing here in NJ lately. Record arctic temps, and we got about 10-12 inches of snow in my area. It's the light fluffy stuff, so it wasn't so bad to shovel up, it was just the drive home on Tuesday that was scary. And we closed early.

Of course, this has been my uniform at work lately:
That's me, in a long sleeve shirt, with a sweater over it, in my winter coat and gloves, a fleece blanket on my lap, and a 12ft 4th Doctor scarf. Because someone in HR threw a hissy fit that not having the receptionist in the lobby "isn't professional and doesn't look right." And if you look closely at the revolver behind me, you can even see the gap where the doors are improperly sealed but, according to the landlord, "aren't worn down enough to fix."

Yeah, I'm looking for a new job.
Update: They finally moved me. Because G had a talk with the exec who "controls" the conference center. She got in trouble, but I'm actually able to take off my winter coat. Just the fact that we had to fight to not sit in a 44 degree lobby tells you all you need to know. Plus no one recognizes my 4th Doctor scarf, and that's just unacceptable.

In other news, I got some new phone cases! I went Sherlock-themed, obviously, and I couldn't decide which one I wanted, so I got two. I'm currently using the wallpaper one.
I love the pink rhinestoned cupcake one I've been using, but it's been shedding rhinestones like nobody's business, and it just looks a bit sad. I got them both from Etsy: the wallpaper one is here and the 221B one is here (the image is a little blurry close up on this one)

I'm assuming that you've all heard about Bridgegate and how Gov. Christie and his administration continue to give NJ a bad name. Well, this Born to Run parody by Jimmy Fallon and Bruce Springsteen makes the situation a little bit better:
And lest we forget, folks: Bruce Springsteen is NJ's favorite son. So while the media makes us out to be either white trash or mafioso, Bruce is out there representing the rest of us. Because we rock.

And if you watch Sleepy Hollow (if you're not, you should) and saw the finale, this recap from The Mary-Sue is hysterical and also completely accurate.

I'm also beta-ing a novel for a fanfiction author I really love, which is why I haven't had any book/movie reviews lately.

TV- (Beyond this point, there be MAJOR spoilers)

January 22, 2014

Game Day Recipe Round Up

Soooo, there's this game thingy coming up soon? And people, they throw parties about it with lots of food? And it's going to be in New Jersey this year? So I did a round up of recipes on the blog that you could serve at said party. I've gathered up the manliest recipes and the cutest finger foods for this list, and I'm slightly amused at how many started life as a geeky-inspired recipe.

Starting from left to right:

January 19, 2014

Sherlock Cupcakes

Lemon Scented Chocolate Cupcakes

Today marks the US premiere of Sherlock Series 3. HOOOOOOOOOOOOOORRRRRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, full disclosure, I've already seen tonight's episode. I just didn't want to take the chance of it getting spoiled. And I've really wanted to talk about it here, but I didn't want to be responsible for spoiling it for anyone else.

Still, I know many people will be watching it tonight for the first time, so I made cupcakes to celebrate. We've been waiting two years; we deserve it.
I originally found this recipe on 221 Baking Geeks and fell in love with the all the thought behind the flavor combination. It's complicated, unexpected, maybe a bit incomprehensible, but it somehow works and you fall head over heels for it, exactly like a certain someone from a certain show, based on a certain book.

The combination of lemon and chocolate doesn't seem like it should work on paper, but like Holmes and Watson, it ends up being a partnership for the ages. The cake itself is soft and fluffy, with a light texture and a surprisingly tasty flavor.

It also contains a 7% Coke solution, which tickles me.

(Coca Cola, not the fun stuff.) (I don't know if it's actually 7%, but we'll just pretend it is, okay?)
The original cupcakes were decorated with chocolate curls, for obvious reasons (as a certain someone has the most delicious dark curls) but I went with decorations a little more simple and more obvious. I had these black and white damask baking cups that reminded me a bit of the wallpaper from the show. Then, instead of the chocolate lemon frosting, I used my basic buttercream, flavored with a little lemon juice and extract to give myself a blank canvas. I mixed up a small batch of yellow royal icing, I had a tube of black gel icing, and I went to town.

Okay, I didn't really go to town, but with my general lack of decorating skills, I think it came out swell. Even if the B does look a little like an 8.
If anyone wants to talk about The Empty Hearse, drop me a line. I've been bursting to talk to someone about it.

Lemon Scented Chocolate Cupcakes
Yield: 12 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
100 ml Coke (or other cola)*
1 cup flour
1½ tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
¾ cup sugar
1 egg
40 ml milk*
½ tsp. vanilla extract
Zest of 1 lemon

For the frosting:
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup solid white vegetable shortening (Crisco)**
2 cups powdered sugar
Approx. 1 tsp. lemon juice (add to taste)
½ tsp. vanilla extract
Splash of lemon extract
Approx. 1 tbsp. milk

For the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a saucepan over low heat (or in the microwave), melt the butter. Remove from heat and stir in the cola. Allow to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl add the sugar, egg, milk, vanilla, and lemon zest, mixing until the sugar is fully dissolved. Whisk in the butter mixture until fully incorporated (if the butter is still warm, add it slowly and whisk constantly to avoid cooking the egg). Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until the batter is smooth.

Divide the batter equally between 12 baking cups and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large mixing bowl with electric beaters, beat the butter and shortening on low speed. Gradually add the powdered sugar. Add the lemon juice, both extracts, and just enough milk to make it smooth. Gradually increase the speed to high and whip until smooth and fluffy.

*When converting the recipe from metric to US measurements, I kept the liquids in milliliters because most liquid measuring cups do have metric measurements, and the conversions were coming out wonky

**Feel free to use all butter; however the lemon juice did seem to make it a little on the grainy side without the shortening

Cupcake recipe adapted from 221 Baking Geeks. Frosting recipe by Kim

January 15, 2014

Banana Chocolate Chip Mug Cake

I've noticed a trend in the recipes in the recipes that I post here. Whenever the job gets to be too much, I post something with banana. And it's generally something on the healthier spectrum, so that I'm totally justified in eating it for breakfast.

Growing up, my mom used to make banana bread for special occasions. I guess I just associate the flavor of banana with comfort food. Of course, that wasn't healthy banana bread, but it had fruit so it's still breakfast food, right?
This mug cake is no exception. Gluten free, refined sugar free, dairy free. Made with a mashed banana, protein-rich coconut flour, chocolate chips, and maple syrup, this cake is a perfect breakfast treat. I've never made mug cakes before, so I was pleasantly surprised at how moist this stayed

This was my first time using coconut flour, however, and I wasn't really a fan of the grainy texture it gave. But the cake itself was moist and flavorful enough that I was able to overlook it.

The cake tastes mostly of banana. The maple syrup is there for sweetness, the flavor a bit overwhelmed. The coconut flour adds a subtle undertone of coconut flavor, and there's a ton of chocolate chips because yay chocolate!
It's also super filling. This is a cake you should most definitely share with a friend. I could not even finish it. Which, when you're eating cake for breakfast, is probably a good thing.

Banana Chocolate Chip Mug Cake
Yield: 1 cake (2 servings)

1 ripe banana
1 egg
1 tbsp. maple syrup
Splash of vanilla extract
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
Pinch salt
1-2 tbsp. mini chocolate chips (I used 2, obvi)

In a large, microwave safe mug, mash the banana. Add the egg, maple syrup, and vanilla, and mix well. Add the coconut flour, baking powder, and salt, and mix until fully incorporated (batter will be thick). Stir in the chocolate chips.

Microwave on high for 2-3 minutes (mine was in 2 minutes 45 seconds, but I kept taking it out to check on it). Allow to cool slightly before eating (it's best still warm).

Tip: If you want to add cinnamon, add a scant 1/4 tsp.

Recipe adapted from emmycafelatte

January 12, 2014

Xtreme Cocoa Pebbles Banana Berry Smoothies

So, I did something a little bit silly.

I put an entire breakfast into a blender and I made it a smoothie.

I blame John Green. He put the idea in my head by blenderizing a happy meal.

My original idea was just to soak the cereal in milk and strain it out, making Xtreme Cocoa Pebbles chocolate milk. So I put the cereal in a bowl, poured some milk, and put it in the fridge while I caught up on my DVRed shows. (White Collar- totally called that twist. Community- genre spoof episodes are the best. Psych- can Cary Elwes be in all the things?) When I went back to check on it, the cereal had sogged up so much that it kind of looked like rice pudding. And I'm like, yay, I can skip a step and not strain this out. But if soggy cereal skeeves you, feel free to strain it out.
This was originally meant to just be banana and pebbles milk, but I still had some frozen raspberries in the freezer, so I threw them in. Because chocolate plus raspberries is always a good idea.

This smoothie is super thick. It's like a milkshake, but much healthier and more nutritious. Just skim milk, frozen fruit, and breakfast cereal. And chocolate syrup, because chocolate syrup. It's a complete breakfast in portable form. And rather more delicious than a blenderized happy meal. Banana and raspberries plus cocoa pebbles? You can't really go wrong. The super chocolate-y-ness of the Xtreme Cocoa Pebbles worked well for this. It was better than chocolate milk-- they added flavor and sweetness, as well as texture and nutrition.
I tried to be all fancy and swirl chocolate syrup on the inside of the glass, but it didn't work too well. C'est la vie

Xtreme Cocoa Pebbles Banana Berry Smoothies
Yield: 4 smoothies

1½ cups skim milk
1 cup Xtreme Cocoa Pebbles
2 bananas, frozen
1 cup frozen raspberries
1-2 tbsp. chocolate syrup (depending on how chocolatey you want your smoothies)

Add the milk and Xtreme Cocoa Pebbles to a bowl and stir. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator for minimum 1 hour (stirring once or twice to make sure the cereal is evenly coated).

Add the bananas, raspberries, chocolate syrup, and the milk/cereal mixture to a blender and blend until smooth. Serve immediately.

Recipe by Kim
*Disclaimer: I received free samples of Post Xtreme Cocoa Pebbles cereal for the purposes of review. I received no further compensation. All thoughts and opinions are my own.* 

January 10, 2014

Stuff and Things 1/10/14

Life as I Know it
You guys, I almost forgot about Stuff and Things this week. And that would have been a scandal because the job has been totes cray cray all week. And I never say things like "totes cray cray" so that just lets you know how cray cray it been.

First, you know that cold snap we had this week? The sub arctic vortex thingy of wintery death? The lobby, where I sit all day, every day, is impossible to heat at the best of times. The 4 doors I have on either side of me have ginormous gaps in them, because our landlord is an a-hole and doesn't get that if he fixes them, it would help heating costs. Then, the lobby is open all the way to the roof (hence the echo problem), which had a skylight, obvi. Then the wall behind me is 100% windows. It is seriously the worst design and I sit in my winter coat huddled over a semi-illegal space heater all winter.
This is not a new problem. The vortex thingy didn't come upon us suddenly. We knew it would be cold, and we knew the lobby would be freezing because that's what it does in the winter. But Bossmans 1 and 2 were acting like this was news to them. They waited until the morning of to do anything about it, then they were scrambling around like this had taken them by surprise, trying to find more heaters and talking to IT to see if they could move my equipment. Which they did, in the middle of the day, confusing all guests and employees, and meaning the phone was off for 20 minutes during the busiest time.

Then, then, a temp (not one of mine, thank goodness) came in wanting to reactivate a loaner badge she'd had out for 3 weeks (loaner badges are only meant for 1 day use), and I told her she couldn't have a loaner because she'd had that out for so long. She copped an attitude (nothing new), interrupting me, trying to make it my fault. G, who had been standing by-- who does security with me, by the bye-- stepped in to explain procedure. To which the temp snapped, "I'm not talking to you, I'm talking to her."

Then an employee who we'd been talking to, who's a sweet as pie older guy and just happens to be one of the higher ranking executives in the building, stepped in to try and diffuse the situation, to which she responded, "I wasn't talking to you. I'm still talking to her."

Bitch, you know me. You want to cop an attitude with me, that's fine. You don't talk like that to an executive who is also the nicest guy in the building. And she had no clue who he was. He could have been a visitor, a client, the owner of the company. I had to report her to HR. I'm not a narc guys, but there was a client meeting going on not 10 feet away. If one of them had walked out and witnessed this, gotten involved, and she spoke to them like that, it could have caused the company mucho dinero. As it was, I had a director from a different department walk in at the end of this asking me if this sort of thing happens all the time. I laughed it off and said it was a first, but he pressed on and said, "But you get that attitude a lot?" I shrugged and said it happens, and he had this look on his face like
Then I hear from one of the mailroom guys--who I happen to work with-- that the HR rep from the temp's department was asking who G's manager was. Apparently the temp went to her complaining about how nasty G was when she asked to see the girl's manager. And the HR rep tells him the story. Um, no. I took I/O psych, that is a big breach of confidentiality. So the HR rep schedules a meeting with Bossman, but comes down to see me, no warning, before that, so I could tell her what had happened. She then apparently twists my words when speaking to Bossman, who then told G, who argued with him over what I had meant. But guess who he doesn't ask? That's right, the person who actually said the thing in the first place because Bossman is apparently scared of me or something. He never comes to talk to me, even when it's about things concerning me.

Then we had two interviews who didn't know their own names. Two guys came in at the same time, I called their respective contacts, one goes to the restroom. An employee comes down to pick up the first guy, I'm busy handling a badge for an employee, not really paying attention. She goes to the guy in the waiting area, says, "Hi, Scott?" and the guy stands to shake her hand. They go upstairs. The other guy comes back from the restroom, and a recruiter comes to pick him up, at the same time her next appointment comes in. There's a little confusion as the new guy signs in, but she goes to the one who's been waiting, says, "Hi, Robert?" and the guy stands up to shake her hand. They go upstairs. Then I get a call from the employee who picked up the first guy saying, "This guy is not my interview." Well, not my fault your guys don't know their own names.

And lest I forget, Monday at 1:15 in the morning, a transformer on my street blew up or something. There was this loud electric buzzing noise and white flashing light, and power went out for about 45 minutes. But nobody seems to know anything about it, and there's nothing on the interwebz about it and I just
First full week of the year, guys. I think I'm going to bed now.


January 8, 2014

Poppin' Pebbles Berry Almond Muffins

Cereal is a thing my family eats a lot of. I mean, we stock up on cereal like some survivalists stock up on canned food.

Breakfast? Bowl of cereal. Nothing ready for dinner? Bowl of cereal. Need a snack? Bowl of cereal.

So when I got the opportunity to try new flavors of Pebbles cereal, I jumped on it. I was all, "free cereal? I don't even care what happens to me the rest of the week!"
The two flavors I got to try were Xtreme Cocoa Pebbles and Poppin' Pebbles. The Xtreme Cocoa Pebbles are extra chocolate-y, so that it makes your milk taste like an "xtreme chocolate milkshake." I like chocolate cereal, so I liked this, but it was a little too chocolate-y for me. I actually don't like chocolate milk (I know, I'm weird), so chocolate cereal is a fine line for me. I need something on the less chocolate-y side so it won't add too much chocolate to the milk. Chocolate milk fans should totally run out and buy a box, though. As soon as the milk hit the cereal, it started turning to chocolate. It's not overly sweet, either, which is something I like. I can't eat too sweet for breakfast.

Poppin' Pebbles is a berry-flavored cereal with these big green pieces that fizzle like pop rocks. And because I'm actually 5 years old, I think that's pretty awesome. I literally will sit there with the open box, pick out the fizzle pieces, and sit there with my mouth open so everyone can hear it fizzle. Because I am totally an adult-type person.
The cereal itself has a good berry flavor without tasting too artificial. I will admit, I was afraid that it would be grossly sweet, especially after I opened the box and it smelled like candy. It did end up being a little too sweet for me, personally, as a breakfast cereal, but it is great as a snack. It satisfies my sweet tooth without wrecking any good eating I've been doing that day. I've been eating it by the handful. When I'm not picking out the fizzle pieces.
The berry flavor of the Poppin' Pebbles got me thinking how great they would be paired with something almond. A not-too-sweet almond muffin, in fact. An easy-peasy, eggless almond muffin that only needs two bowls and a whisk to whip up. So easy, even the kiddos can help. Whole wheat flour to add some heartiness, almond butter for protein, applesauce and a handful of frozen berries for fruit, and some Poppin' Pebbles for added flavor and sweetness. They are nutritionally dense muffins, but are still soft, moist, and light, packed with flavor.
I was a little sad that the fizzle pieces kind of fizzled out while baking. I was hoping you'd be able to bite into a muffin and be like, whoa. But c'est la vie. This means you can pick out all the fizzle pieces and sit there with your mouth open so people can hear it.
Poppin' Pebbles Berry Almond Muffins
Yield: 16 muffins

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup almond butter*
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 cup Poppin' Pebbles cereal, plus more for sprinkling
Approx. 1/2 cup your choice of berries (optional). I used a handful of frozen raspberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, salt, and baking soda. In a separate bowl, mix the buttermilk, almond butter, unsweetened applesauce, vanilla and almond extract. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and stir until well incorporated. Fold in the cereal and berries (if using).

Line a muffin tin with paper liners, and fill 3/4 of the way or more with batter. Sprinkle the tops with more cereal and bake 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool on wire racks before serving.

*I used an all-natural roasted almond butter, with no added oil, salt, or sugar.

Recipe by Kim

*Disclaimer: I was provided with free samples of Post Poppin' Pebbles and Xtreme Cocoa Pebbles for the purposes of this review. I was under no obligation to give a positive review, and I received no further compensation. All opinions are my own*