Category Archives: cooking

Need More Chocolate Bunnies…

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What a week!

On Tuesday, I got a call from a local radio station saying that I was a winner! That’s it – they just wanted to boost my self-esteem a little. No – actually, they were calling to tell me I had won an iPod nano and a $50 iTunes card. They were having a contest sponsored by Diet Pepsi for an “escape” to Arizona. You had to write in and tell them why you needed an escape and they would pick one preliminary winner a day and then a grand prize winner out of those four. I almost didn’t enter because I usually don’t enter two-part contests because the preliminary prizes are generally a cd or something I don’t care about. But this time, I figured an iPod would be great because mr b is very jealous of mine and the boy’s. And the clincher was that when I was considering entering, the weatherman was telling me about snow and I thought about Arizona and thought, “Oh yes I DO need an escape.”

So anyway, Tuesday morning I was happy and mr b was happy and then I realized that I now had one in four odds to win the grand prize! And Holy Shitballs, on Friday morning, I got the call! I fucking won! In September, mr b and I will be spending a weekend in Scottsdale, Arizona at this beautiful resort. I am so excited! We also won a Visa gift card, a blu-ray dvd and a two-month subscription to netflix. Woo!

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After getting the call on Friday, work was pretty much out of the question, especially since it was a slow work day, so I took the afternoon off and had a “girl’s day” with my bean. The boy was off to the movies and a sleepover, so she and I headed to the radio station to pick up our prizes and then headed out to eat and shop.

The girl had a couple of bucks to spend and we went into Claire’s. While we were there, she noticed the piercing chair in the front of the store and asked what it was for. When I told her it was where people got their ears pierced, she asked me if she could do it. I was a little surprised since for the past couple of years, she has been saying that she wants to, but not yet – when she’s bigger. I was worried she would be upset that it hurt, even though I was honest and told her it hurt a little bit. But she surprised me and both of the piercing ladies (they did both at once) by not only not crying but not flinching at all. Her expression never changed, except when she looked in the mirror and broke out in a huge smile. She told me that she was always jealous of people with pierced ears, but now she didn’t have to be. She kept saying how proud she was of herself (and jealous of herself), and how she was so big now. She looked in every single reflective surface she came across all that day and night. And she told just about every single person who even looked in her general direction, “I just got my ears pierced!”

See:

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Saturday, I had planned to clean the house, but that never really happened. I had the kids clean their rooms while I boiled eggs and prepped for dyeing them, which was a great idea in theory, but in practice, it was more me boiling/prepping all the while breaking up fights about who was cleaning and who wasn’t,(if only they spent as much time doing what they were supposed to as they do worrying about what the other is doing), kids getting distracted by everything that wasn’t room-cleaning, having to answer “is it time yet?” approximately twenty-seven thousand times, breaking up more fights, and denying requests for “a break” (because apparently 10 minutes of not cleaning is exhausting). Great fun.

After we made our groovy tie-dyed looking eggs, I was ready for a break, but immediately the “when are we making the cupcakes?” inquiries started. Yes, I – hater of baking – decided that the kids and I should make these adorable Bakerella cupcakes. See how cute those are? I assure you that ours where not even on the same planet of cute. My icing wasn’t quite thick enough (actually, it was exactly the way I like it, but not the best for “gluing” on the candies). And my sour punch straws were too short for handles – I don’t know if there are different size packages or if Bakerella is just magical. I think the latter. I ended up using rainbow twizzlers. They looked OK, but they were heavy and fell over. Then I discovered that I had one package of Airheads extreme things which are flat and multi-colored and they were actually perfect. But once I covered the cupcakes so they wouldn’t dry out, they – well – didn’t stay dried out enough – and the handles all collapsed. But even after that, they were still sort of cute. Until I dropped the container carrying them to my aunt’s Easter dinner and they all smooshed around. Whatever – they still taste good (minus the god-forsaken sour airheads).

Sunday was dinner at Aunt Twin’s house – the kids had a great time with the egg hunt I set up for them. I was smart this year and color-coded the eggs – one color per child, to ensure that they all got equal amounts of candy and prizes, which worked out really well.

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Anyway, this is the most boring entry ever. Here’s hoping I get more interesting soon.

I Don’t Bake

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I went to the Burgh Moms cookie exchange on Saturday, and let me tell you, I spent at least 5 days beforehand bitching and moaning about baking cookies. I told anyone who would listen that I was going because I love the Burgh Moms (and there was even a Burgh Dad), and I just wanted to socialize. I didn’t care about cookies, because I! Hate! Baking!

I am a good cook. A really good cook. But I am a non-recipe cook. I like to throw things together and experiment with new dishes. The upside is that I have come up with some really great meals. One downside is that when people ask me for the recipe, I have none. Now, if you are also a non-recipe cook, I can probably give you an idea of how to make it and you can either duplicate it or improve on it. But if you need a recipe, I am not the girl for you. I can’t tell you how many times over the years I have had this conversation with someone who liked a dish I made:

Friend: How much *insert ingredient* do I need?

Me: I don’t know. Some.

Friend: Well, what about the *insert ingredient*?

Me: Whatever it takes.

Friend: How many pounds of *meat/fish/pasta* do you use?

Me: As much as you want.

Friend (getting frustrated): What temperature?

Me: Oh, 350. Or 375. Or 400, whatever.

Friend (totally disgusted): How long do you cook it?

Me: Until it’s done.

It’s not too hard to see that the other downfall of this sort of cooking philosophy is that Gina + Baking = smoke, nasty-ass cookies, throwing of spatulas, second degree burns, tears and oreos. But I sucked it up and made cookies for the cookie swap, hoping that they would only be mildly bad and that I would get home and out of everyone’s scorn distance before anyone discovered just how bad a baker I am. So imagine my surprise when some folks actually liked them and wanted the recipe. I still think they are either 1) having some sort of sugar-induced hysteria or 2) smoking crack, but whatever.

So here is where I fess up that these are the least fancy cookies ever. Seriously. All they are is a basic sugar cookie, plus Gina’s own special brand of I Can’t Control My Compulsion To Dick Around With This Perfectly Good Recipe And See How Badly I Can Screw It Up. Basically, you use your favorite sugar cookie recipe. I don’t have a favorite, so I just grabbed a random one online (I made sure to choose one without milk or cream, since I was afraid of adding lemon to dairy).

First, whip up the sugar cookie dough. Then add (any one or combination of) a few drops of lemon juice, some powdered lemon (true lemon) and some lemon zest. Then mix in some dried sweetened cranberries. Roll into little balls and bake at 350 degrees for about 11 minutes. Normally, with sugar cookies, you would want them a little pale, with just a teeny bit of golden brown on the edge, but taste tests (me, shoving them in my maw) showed that with the lemon flavor they tasted better when I let them brown a little more to get crispier.

OK, now be very careful to pay attention to these precise instructions:

How much lemon juice/zest/powdered lemon? Some. Whatever. To taste (if you’re afraid of raw cookie dough, then I can’t help you. I suck in many ways.) Also – don’t use artificial lemon extract. It’s wrong.

How many cranberries? Lots.

What size balls to roll? Ummm…a little bigger than a superball. Were you not listening when I said I don’t measure????

And that, my friends, is it. Lemon cranberry cookies. I personally like them, but then I am not a big chocolate, nutty, coconutty kind of girl. I tend to like fruity stuff, so these are perfect for me. I also love pie. And pie gives you a little more leeway, so I can actually practice my crazy kitchen witchcraft on pies.

Now, if I could just get the recipe for the concord grape ricotta tart I had at Casbah last week, I’d be a happy woman. Well, I’d be pleased. I’d be happy after I suckered one of you into baking it for me.