Saturday, January 28, 2012

Bill Clinton! At AU!

Hey! Sam here!
As someone who’s political knowledge is in the negatives, I believe I am able to bring a unique perspective to Bill Clinton’s speech at AU. While he talked, I discovered three basic things:

1) I totally see where Monica Lewinsky was coming from. Bill Clinton is quite possibly the most charming person I’ve ever seen speak. Move over, Anderson Cooper. Bill may be emerging as my new silver fox.
I initially went with the intention of asking him if he thought I was hot enough to cause a political scandal. Let’s face it—coming from Bill, it’d be the ultimate validation. However, the more he talked, the more I realized that if he had answered the hypothetical question I posed, I definitely would’ve tried to turn it into a real thing.

2) Listening to him talk about Hillary Clinton was incredibly surreal. He briefly—and quite casually—slipped her name into his speech when he talked about learning string theory and “running home to tell Hillary about it.” In my mind, they might be married, but they definitely don’t speak. And when they do, it’s so not about string theory. It was weird—they are such separate entities in my mind that to hear him talk about her was off-putting. But when he did drop her name, there was spontaneous applause from the audience, which made me happy.

3) Bill Clinton is actually pretty funny. I was too young when he was president to watch him at his Correspondents’ Dinners, so I had no idea. He started the night off by saying that he didn’t care if the audience asked him controversial questions, because “he’s not president anymore so he can say whatever the hell he wants.” When he thanked AU for naming him “Wonk of the Year”, he couldn’t help giggling through the words. Later, he used the expression “you can’t get blood out of turnip” at least twice—try saying that without smiling. Finally, he ended by saying that as a democrat, it has been a sheer pleasure watching the Republican nomination process pan out. Funny, right?

All in all, I really enjoyed watching him speak. And for me, that’s pretty huge.


Not What Bill Had in Mind

As Sam mentioned in her last post, Bill Clinton came and spoke in American University's Bender Arena last night. And he was fabulous. And knowledgeable. And wise from all of his experiences. One of his experiences involves the current obesity problem in the United States. Bill (we're on a first name basis) spent a good 15 minutes discussing the need to eliminate processed and other unhealthy foods from our diet. In fact, The Clinton Foundation has removed 88% of sugar from the drinks in school lunch rooms (or something along those lines, there was lots of clapping while he spoke. It was like the State of the Union, but Bill didn't have built in pauses for the standing ovations).

I certainly agree with basically everything that Bill said. I'm a major proponent of eating whole foods with great nutritional value, until it's dessert time. I would say my diet is very healthy until about 7 or 8pm when my sweet tooth attacks with a vengeance. I love dessert and I have no issue going over the top. Exhibit A: this cake. AKA the Chocolate Wasted Cake.

Yes, that is a chocolate layer cake covered in more chocolate. To be more specific, this cake is composed of two 9-inch chocolate cakes that are each drizzled with chocolate wine. It is iced with a chocolate buttercream. Then, chocolate chips are pressed into the sides and the cake is topped with a variety of chocolate candy bars. Then, it is finished with a chocolate ganache to drizzle over top.

Why did I make this cake? Because I've taken a liking to giving people food as a gift.

When my friend Shari's birthday party was coming up, I asked what her favorite dessert was. She responded "anything chocolate," and this cake immediately came to mind. It's an awesome cake and Shari is an awesome person, so I knew it would be a good fit.

I found the recipe one day while perusing my usual food blogs and knew I had to find a reason to make it someday. I don't like cake (I know, I'm weird) so I knew I would have to make it for someone else, and this was my chance.

I will say, I had some issues with this cake (my mom can vouch-she had to wash one of my shirts 3 times because of the damage). I took the cakes out after 30 minutes (the minimum baking time) because they were firm and the toothpick came out clean. Well, I guess this just shows my inexperience with cake because when I flipped the first cake out, it was completely uncooked in the center. I quickly flipped it back into the pan and shoved both cakes into the oven. I would have done the creative take out the uncooked center and bake a smaller cake, but because of the way this cake had to be decorated, that wasn't an option. Thus, the cake was slightly over baked around the edge, but you could hardly notice because of the amount of toppings.

Then, when making the chocolate drizzle for the top, something went horribly wrong. I used the microwave against my better judgement and paid the consequences. It came out lumpy and grainy but I put it on top anyway. My one friend told me it looked like "gerbil poop." I got to hand it to her, that was the perfect description. It still tasted awesome though.

Despite the various issues, this cake was a major hit (I mean, how could you not? It's covered in candy bars for goodness sake). Everyone loved it! Including Shari, which was the most important part. So, all in all, a success. Plus, I bet even Bill Clinton would make an exception to his health-rule for just one slice of this monstrous cake.

Warming: if you want to make this cake (which you should), be sure to dedicate a whole day to the process. Because it takes that long-at least for cake-inept people like me.

Find the recipe here:


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Why This Puke-y Feeling is Totally Worth It

I currently feel like I might throw up. But it's okay. There's a good reason.

Let's go back to the beginning.

Sam and I are easily amused (you should see how excited we get when our pet fish, Leo, swims into his little Spongebob pineapple house in his tank. You would think someone had handed us one million dollars). Yet, we also become bored after a while. Especially when it comes to dessert. We go through phases-for a while we loved Moose-Track ice cream, then Chocolate-Pudding Pie, then TDR (our dining hall) cookies (pictured below are snickerdoodles, a common favorite, laying on top of my Intro to Political Research homework).

But after a while, the cookies weren't enough. I mean, they're still delicious, but they needed a little something to push them over the top. Like melted icing. And peanut butter. And m&ms. And candy bars. And cinnamon sugar. And the kitchen sink.

Basically, we started making cookie sundaes last semester when the cookie itself no longer excited our fancy. And they're back!

Sam made her first creation of the semester the other day using two chocolate chip cookies, whipped cream, and melted chocolate chips (as we hadn't picked up our Betty-Crocker icing from the school store yet).

Then, I requested one today and she simply outdid herself. Pretending she was a competitor on Chopped, Sam went for presentation as well as taste. I received two chocolate chip cookies sandwiched together with chunky peanut butter and chocolate frosting, topped with whipped cream, surrounded by a moat of peanut m&ms and garnished with chopped peanuts. I'd say this deserves the $10,000 prize, and a bucket for whoever eats the whole thing (me!), because that person may be in need of it later.

Now, you might be thinking, "what on earth is a foodie doing with Betty-Crocker icing, mass-produced cookies, and processed candy?" Well, even I enjoy me some processed food once in a while. If I had the time to make myself breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert from scratch every day, I would. But that's simply impossible at the moment, so I'll enjoy my heart attack cookie sundaes for now.

As for the recipe, there isn't one. Seriously, we've made sundaes with cinnamon buns as a base. Anything can go into your sundae. Just throw your favorite desserts into a bowl and microwave it if it feels right. I always love something melty and gooey for dessert, especially if it's chocolate related.

So go through your cabinets and get crackin'! You won't regret it (even when you feel like that sundae might make a reappearance)!


Sunday, January 22, 2012

What To Do With the Worst Neighbors On Earth

I actually don't know what to do with the worst neighbors on earth. I mean, they seem to live right next to me, and the situation has only deteriorated since last semester.

Let me explain a little more. After Sam and I moved in last August, we quickly learned that-let's call them Dumb and Dumber (but don't confuse them with the endearing JIm Carrey and Jeff Daniels, they're just stupid)-did not share our sleep schedule. As Sam and I made our way to bed, Dumb and Dumber were just getting started. Which is fine. This is college. We understand that we will never live next to people that are completely silent when we want them to be. But, we have a limit. And that limit was not only reached, it was far surpassed.

We have asked them to be quiet probably about 30 times now. We even got the RA involved. Nothing.

So, what could they be doing that keeps us up so long?

Oh, well we hear a myriad number of things coming from that Hell hole. Usually Dumb is preaching about some aspect of life (couples need to spend time in big groups of people because otherwise they would be forced to have sex ALL THE TIME-the most recent example), Dumber is fighting with her boyfriend about how he doesn't pay her enough attention, Dumb or Dumber is having really loud sex with her boyfriend, etc.

Last night was particularly horrible as it involved shrill shrieking from 11 pm to 2 am that included Dumb and Dumber and their multitude of drunk friends. That's all. Just screaming for no apparent reason. It would have continued if I hadn't gone over to ask them to be quiet. When I knocked on the door, I got some extra ridicule as Dumber looked through the key hole and laughed hysterically at my livid face for 2 minutes before finally opening the door.

"Can you be a little quieter please?" I asked. They stared at me with those blank eyes and shut the door in my face. Thanks.

Well, I guess they didn't feel like igniting my wrath-whatever that is-because they left the room for a while (they came back and woke me up, but that had less to do with obnoxious-ness and more to do with the intense hatred that bubbles inside of me every time I see or hear them).

Anyways, as I write this post sleep-deprived from my desk, I think about how I have managed not to go completely insane. Or at least report them again. It probably has to do with the fact that I am really non-confrontational. And, I get to share my anger with Sam (who has a much cooler head than I). Also, for today's remedy I will enjoy the most comforting breakfast around.


There is nothing better. Really, for me, breakfast is best served from a bowl. Granola, cereal, porridge, etc. But oatmeal is the ultimate. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside even when Dumb and Dumber are right next door. So, I will make some oatmeal this morning and leave my fuming for the afternoon and middle of the night.

These pictures are actually from home where I get to make steel-cut oats (which are amazing). They take longer to cook, but it's so worth it. The one pictured is my peanut butter and jelly oatmeal. Not only do you get to feel warm and fuzzy, but you get to feel like a warm and fuzzy child in elementary school. How delightful.

I hope you have lovely neighbors and that you can sleep peacefully. Either way, you can always enjoy this bowl of goodness.

P.S. listening to my new Lion King soundtrack from Christmas is also a very good way to calm the anger :)

Peanut Butter and Jelly Oatmeal


1/4 c steel-cut oats
1/2 c water
1/2 c milk of your choice
1 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp cinnamon
dash of salt

1 tbsp peanut butter
2 tsp chia seeds

1 tbsp jam or preserves, melted for drizzling
chopped peanuts


Bring the water and milk to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Add the oats, honey, cinnamon, and salt and cover.
Stir the mixture every 5 minutes or so, to check the water isn't getting to hot and that the oats aren't sticking to the bottom.

After about 30ish minutes, when the mixture is thick and most of the milk and water mix is gone, add the peanut butter and chia seeds and mix it in thoroughly. When the oatmeal is at a consistency you like, pour it into a bowl and top with the melted jam and chopped peanuts.

Remember, this is oatmeal and you can make it anyway you want. Prefer almond butter? Go for it! Want maple syrup instead of honey? Do it! Make it your own.

Oh, and if you think you added to much liquid and can't seem to get a thick enough consistency, leave the lid off the pot and it will evaporate instead of the oats having to absorb it.



Monday, January 2, 2012

Cake Balls!

I find bite-size desserts impossible to deny. They sit so prettily on the serving dishes, just calling out to each victim that passes by.

Their bite-size-ness is what makes them undeniable. Just yesterday, while at a family dinner, I fell prey to yet another sweet morsel. The main meal was over, which, for my family, means that you have to start working that metabolism to get ready for dessert (or not; we eat dessert even if we are bursting from dinner).

The cookie plates hit the table and I knew it was over. Actually, I thought I might be okay; a bite of this, a bite of that-but it never turns out that way. Sitting by itself in a mini-muffin cup (it just had to be mini, didn't it? Everyone knows that if it's mini, it's cute; thus, even more unavoidable), was a delightful truffle-y looking-thing.

I held off for a while. Then I gave up and plucked it from the red plate and dove in. It had a nut and chocolate filling. While it was yummy, it wasn't my favorite so I settled on eating about half.

Or, I thought I did. Then I gave up again, gradually. Suffice it to say that by the time we were ready to leave, there wasn't even a crumb left.

Anyways, the reason for this long-winded story is that I made my own bite-size wonders to bring to a New Year's Eve party. But I would never even consider eating only half of one of these. My new goal would be to try not to eat the whole plate.

They are Gingerbread Cake Balls with a white chocolate coat and mini chocolate chips on top (again, the mini chocolate chips doubles the desirability).

Warning: cake balls are time intensive. They are really fun, but you have to be up for a day of baking, mixing, refrigerating, dipping, and refrigerating again.

It's totally worth it.


White Chocolate Gingerbread Cake Balls
Recipe courtesy of Eats Well With Others

Gingerbread Muffins

Makes 14-16 (I made 14 good-sized muffins), adapted from Confections of A Foodie Bride

2 3/4 cups AP flour
2 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup molasses
3/4 cup nonfat greek yogurt
coarse sugar for garnish

Preheat oven to 375.
Line a muffin pan (or two) with paper liners or spray with nonstick spray.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients - flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, black pepper, and salt.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter with the brown sugar until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes.
Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the mixer after each addition, until well mixed. Try to have the eggs at room temperature-they will combine more easily.
Add the molasses and mix until well blended.
Add half of the dry ingredients, mixing on low only until just incorporated. Add the yogurt, mixing until well distributed. Add the remaining dry ingredients, mixing only until just incorporated.
Scoop into the prepared muffin tins, until about 3/4 full.
Bake 5 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350. Bake another 15 minutes until a skewer comes out with moist crumbs attached. Mine took a little (maybe 5 minutes) longer to bake. I think I made them a little too big.
Cool 5 minutes in the pan. Turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

Cake Balls

Makes ~50 from 14 muffins

7 gingerbread muffins
8 oz Philadelphia cream cheese
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1-2 cups confectioner's sugar
12 oz white chocolate (NOT chips)
mini chocolate chips, for decoration (optional)

In a large bowl, crumble the gingerbread muffins into small pieces.
Using a hand mixer, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Stir in the confectioner's sugar until the mixture resembles cake frosting-not too thick.
A half cup at a time, mix the cream cheese frosting into the gingerbread crumbs with your fingers. Add enough so that the gingerbread is moist and readily sticks together to form balls, a truffle-like consistency. You should have enough to blend with the 14 muffins. I did 2 batches of 7 muffins and had just enough.
Roll the cake and icing mixture into 1 inch balls. Once all dough is used up, place sheet in the fridge and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Melt the white chocolate in a double boiler, stirring frequently. Allow to cool for a minute or two and then dip each gingerbread ball in the white chocolate, turning to coat. Place back on parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with chocolate chips as you go. When all balls are dipped, place back in refrigerator for 15 minutes or until white chocolate is hardened.
I like to keep mine refrigerated in between servings.