Friday, December 31, 2010

DIY Oreo Disaster

For just about all of December, I get insane cravings for the chocolate/peppermint combo. Peppermint mochas, peppermint hot chocolate, peppermint bark (not my favorite, actually, because I cannot stand white chocolate)...they're all great, but nothing comes CLOSE to the elusive Candy Cane Oreos, and their OMG-EVEN-BETTER cousin, Candy Cane Joe-Joes.

This year, I somewhat unintentionally held off. Being in the city, I don't grocery shop all that often - typically we do a big Costco run once or twice a month, and supplement with produce from our corner grocery store as we need it. I always checked the cookie aisles, but neither of my regular places carried the Candy Cane Oreos this year. I never felt like making a special trip to Trader Joe's, so I went most of the month without them.

And I guess that's why my craving intensified. And intensified. And intensified. Until one Friday night, about a week or ten days before Christmas, I snapped. It was about 8:15 and I couldn't stand it anymore, so I bundled up, hopped in the car and drove the ten blocks or so to Trader Joe's.


Over the next week, PhillyGuy, being the amazing husband he is, made a bunch of calls to the local Trader Joes...Ardmore, South Jersey, and our Philly store - only to be told that TJ's was SOLD OUT NATIONWIDE. Argh.

And that's why I decided I was just going to have to take matters into my own hands and make my own Candy Cane Joe-Joes.

You have to love any recipe that starts like this, right?

The dough looked amazing.

I got flour and powdered sugar all over my new lululemon sweats.

I LOVE THESE, by the way. LOVE. They're the Cuddle Up pants...this year's version of the Cozy Up II pants, which are my favorite sweats ever. Apparently no one else likes them. Sad face.

I also love making buttercream. I had no idea how easy it was to make until a few months ago...let's talk life-changing.

I rolled the dough into little balls and flattened with my hands. I did overbake the cookies by a couple minutes, but they looked fine when they came out, so I just ran with it.

Um, and do you want to talk about things that look "just fine?" HOLY COW.

I filled the cookies while watching Rocky V on TV. Um, yes, that movie is exactly as bad as you remember it being.

I could.not.WAIT to dig into these bad boys. I was pretty much shaking with anticipation. Poured myself a little glass of milk, called PhillyGuy into the kitchen, and handed him the inaugural cookie.

I knew something was wrong when PhillyGuy took a bite of his Joe-Joe...he looked at me and said "so, do you want your own cookie or did you just want to finish this one?"

Uh oh.

Guys, it was like eating cardboard. I don't know if I overbaked them, or if I screwed something up, or if the recipe just wasn't great, but these were NASTY.

The peppermint buttercream was good, though. So I did what anyone would do.

Scraped out the filling and threw out every single one of the cookies.

I think the worst part was that I was planning to wrap these up and give them out to my coworkers for Christmas. Um...not so much. Thank goodness I had a huge stash of RhodeyGirl's chocolate covered pretzel rods.

Can't win em all. And the true Christmas miracle?

ALLISON (from the Sunday Flog) FOUND CANDY CANE JOE-JOE'S AT HER TJ's AND SENT ME A BOX. So I got my fix after all.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Dinner Party...

...minus the dinner.

PhillyGuy and I love any excuse to have people over for dinner - friends, my siblings, whatever. We recently invited two couples over for a small, random, spur-of-the-moment dinner.

We might have invited more people, of course, if we'd actually thought about having a dinner party earlier than, say, 24 hours in advance of said dinner party. But we can always count on at least a couple people to have nothing better to do, so it was good stuff.

We had a decent, simple menu in mind. Beer and wine and simple appetizers - pigs in a blanket! Pita chips, hummus and an artichoke dip. Steaks on the grill, whatever veggie we had on hand, and roasted potatoes.

You guys, the REAL reason I wanted to have people over? I wanted to make Jenna's Triple Layer Mint S'more Brownies.

It should come as no surprise that I spent a disproportionate amount of my day preparing the brownies.

and then

and then

the most important ingredient:

I don't know about you, but my peppermint patties exploded in the oven. When I pulled the brownies out, they were peeking through the second layer.

...or maybe THIS is the most important ingredient:


While they were baking and the marshmallows were toasting, I assembled the dips.

And set up the bar.

AND THEN PROMPTLY STOPPED TAKING PICTURES. But I swear...we eventually made steak, and I chopped and roasted potatoes. And we ate and drank and were merry. Especially when it was time for the brownies...which came out EXTREMELY chewy, since I let the marshmallows cool completely before we dug in.

oh well. I love my wine markers...that's the other reason I really love having people over. When else do I get to use these adorable little things?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Chocolate Pretzels for Christmas Eve

In the spirit of getting things done, I was up and at the gym by 9:15 this morning. Not going to lie, I was feeling rather pleased with myself on my walk over - good for me, getting in some sweat-time on Christmas Eve! I was confident I'd have the place more or less to myself, like I did on Thanksgiving morning.

Not so much. Seems like everyone in my neighborhood had the same idea. Every single piece of cardio equipment was taken when I strolled in the door. Oh well - whatever. I lifted first, knocking out P90X shoulders, biceps and triceps in about 25-30 minutes before spending 20 minutes on the elliptical. It's amazing - that video takes about 55+ minutes to do, but when you cut out Tony Horton's blabbering, and the 8-10 minutes of "warm up" and "cool down" stretches (most of which I find useless, and I'm sorry, but I just don't need to march in place for 60 seconds before I can do shoulder presses, you know?), you can really shave off some time.

Anyway - more fun things. Last Sunday, I spent a lazy couple of hours making some gifts to hand out to my coworkers, hair stylist, dog walker, etc:

I started with an economy-sized tub of pretzel rods from Costco.


I gave PhillyGuy the job of crushing the peppermints. Word to the wise: while a rolling pin does just fine for crushing oreos, it's not strong enough to kill the peppermints. When I started melting my chocolate, I heard a fierce banging in the other room. I ran in from the kitchen to find PhillyGuy bashing away at the peppermints WITH A HAMMER.

Oh well. Whatever works!

For something so simple to make, these look truly impressive.

They have definitely been added to my holiday repertoire!

On today's agenda: knock out a couple of last minute errands, pick up a new pair of running shoes, and make chocolate cupcakes. You see, I have a tub of homemade peppermint buttercream hanging out in my fridge at the moment. It's due to a little baking FAIL that I'll be discussing with you all later...but I figure there's no better way to salvage peppermint frosting than with chocolate cupcakes on Christmas Eve.

What are your plans today?

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Don't worry, this is from last year.

There's no snow on the ground here in Philly at the moment.

Also, we got her a new coat shortly after this surprise blizzard. She was about 7 or 8 months old in this picture, and baby puppies grow FAST. Her coat is no longer cropped.

Things I've been up to this week:

- copious amounts of work
- forcing myself back into a regular workout schedule (averaging 3-4x per week - yes, I should be going more like 5-6 times, but baby steps...this is better than my 2-3x that I'd slipped into)
- running shorter and faster - I LOVE INTERVALS! they're good for avoiding the hamster wheel syndrome
- hosting a dinner party
- making holiday treats
- hunting down Candy-Cane Joe-Joe's (sold out everywhere - EXCEPT for the store by Allison's parents' house! HOORAY FOR FRIENDS!)
- attempting to make my own Candy Cane Joe-Joe's...which was an epic fail.

I'll share my adventures with everyone shortly. SWEAR!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

More Soup

Um, yeah, I made soup again.

It's been cold lately. Very cold. And I had a bunch of carrots and celery left over from the last time I made soup.

And PhillyGuy was insistent that I make it the EXACT same way I did last week.

So I did.

He tops his with tons of Locatelli.

I prefer mine straight, and poured over a handful or two of fresh baby spinach.

In the meantime, I've been running again - much, much shorter distances, but I've been working on trying to build up at least a LITTLE speed again.

Tonight, all I wanted to do was sweat, and I didn't care how. This meant that I ended up running a very random three miles:

.75 at 6.5mph
.25 at 7.0mph (I started itching to run a little faster)
.25 at 6.0mph (I slowed down thinking I'd start doing short and fast intervals...)
.25 at 7.5mph (...but then I decided otherwise)
repeat 6.0/7.5mph intervals for a total of three miles, with a pickup during the last .25 so that I ended the interval at 8.0mph

Altogether, I covered three miles in 27 minutes exactly before slowing it down to walk for the next three minutes. The gym was packed tonight, and I like to be considerate of that whole "keep your cardio to 30 minutes" rule (even though I'm pretty sure NO ONE else college gym had that "rule" and no one enforced it, and I remember how frustrating it was to be sitting there like an idiot waiting for a treadmill).

Sophie has been a little stinky lately, so I gave her a bath tonight after the gym.

She's pretty good about bathtime - she doesn't love it, but she doesn't fight it, either. She just kind of gives up and submits, standing there like a pathetic little drowned rat while you scrub her. And then it's time to get out and shake off.

And that's when she gets what I call "the bathtime zoomies."

Apparently, getting wet makes her a little nutty.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Yesterday was a big day.

It started out pretty normal - just about every weekend morning, I wake up around 7 or 7:30, take the dogs out, and make a cup of iced coffee (FYI, the regular starbucks VIA dissolves perfectly well in cold water - you don't have to buy the special "iced" kind). I bring the coffee, the dogs and my laptop back up to bed, where PhillyGuy is still sleeping, and we all hang out while I catch up on my google reader, twitter, and all the other stuff that the internets have been up to while I slept.

But see - I had an appointment to get my hair cut. As I mentioned on twitter earlier in the week, I got it in my head that it was time for another big change. I spend most of my time "growing out my hair." I gravitate towards the same long, layered cut constantly. But then every few years, I very suddenly and very intensely decide that I am "OVER" long hair. And I get it chopped. A few months later I decide to grow it out again. Repeat every two to three years.

I was thinking about it all morning. We started out with breakfast at Rachael's, a little deli at 19th & Sansom. Normally I get lox and bagel there, but I was feeling eggs yesterday.

Ham, onions, green peppers and cheddar. Coffee:

I don't know what kind of coffee they use there, but this was really good - almost chocolatey.

So I had a little talk with my stylist. I warned my husband what might be coming. And yes, I went with the chop. Here's what my hair looked like Friday night:

You can't see it THAT well, but the longest layers were down to my bra strap in the back. And now:


It's been a good ten years since I've had it THIS short, but I'm in love. Now I need to invest in some better headbands for the gym...