Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies? No wai!

This semester turned out to be too hectic to be able to really do anything post-worthy. I continued to make bento lunches, but mostly rehashes of things I've already posted (oldies but goodies!) or just simple sandwich and fruit bentos.

Lately, I became determined to make something, and given my love of (and obsession with) pumpkins, I decided to try a simple pumpkin cookie recipe. I looked up something online to get a starting point, and came across a Vegan Pumpkin Oatmeal cookie posted on by guest poster Heather Green. It was almost perfect, so I went from there. I'm going to post the ingredients for the recipe I followed, and any changes I made I'll put in bold, for ease of following either the original, or mine. Granted, most of my changes were due to lack of the ingredient called for (I could have sworn we had all of them in the pantry!), but the result turned out pretty damn good if I do say so myself.

And to the original author: If you have an issue with me posting your work, please let me know and I'll fix it. :)

To everyone else: Check out either for the Vegan cookies or for the myriad other delicious-looking goodies you can find there!

2 cups flour
1 1/3 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon (I loooooove cinnamon, so I added about twice this much, totaling ~2 tsp)
½ teaspoon nutmeg (We didn't have any of this somehow, so we substituted apple pie seasoning, which we thought would be interesting, and it turned out to be a really good idea, plus more cinnamon!)
1 2/3 cups sugar
2/3 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons molasses (Once again, we had none of this though we could have sworn we had a massive jug at one point, so we used maple syrup. It doesn't have the same flavor intensity, but it served the purpose well.)
1 cup canned pumpkin or cooked pureed pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla (We added a little bit more than a tsp just for a little more flavor, so about 1.5tsp total.)
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
½ cup raisins (I don't really care for anything in my oatmeal cookies usually, so I left out the raisins. Scandalous, I know.)
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped  (I didn't want to add these *see reason above* but the reaction of my boyfriend's father to me not including them prompted me to adding a small decorative sprinkling on top of the last batch just for those of my tasters that preferred them.)

Now that you've got everything out and ready, get to cooking!

 Preheat your oven to a toasty 350° F and lightly grease up two of your favorite baking sheets. Combine the flour, oats, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg (or apple spice) into a large mixing bowl.

In another bowl, mix the sugar, oil, maple syrup, pumpkin puree, vanilla, and flax seeds. Combine the ingredients from the second bow to the ones in the large bowl and fold to mix. I had never folded, so I had an awkward moment where I had to ask if you literally "fold" or not. Yeah, you do, by the way. Go figure.

You're supposed to do a "drop cookie" kind of deal here, taking a teaspoon and plopping a small ball of dough onto the cookie sheet about 1 inch apart, which I did, but I would have liked them a little bigger. Take that as you will. :3. The original cook was right, and they don't spread out as much as other cookies tend to, so you'll have to push them down a little and mold them into a more cookie-ish shape. Be warned, they are really tempting to eat out of the bowl. :3

Put your disks of deliciousness into your preheated over and bake for around 15-17 minutes. The original recipe says you'll make around 4 dozen cookies, but I only was able to make somewhere around 3 dozen, and would have been much less with the larger cookies I wanted to make, though you may have better luck with sizing and whatnot.

When your handy-dandy timer yells at you, take the cookies out and cool them on a wire rack. Get out a nice wooden spatula and apply liberally to the hands of any passerby. If you're not vigilant you'll lose them quickly. I left the room for a measly 5 minutes, and 3 mysteriously disappeared, and my helper cooks kept saying they needed to "taste" another, although they kept saying they were really good.

I made these mostly for Thanksgiving. My mother hates pumpkin, but after some encouragement she ate one and liked it. That may be due to the one complaint I had about this recipe: that it really didn't taste like pumpkin. To quote my boyfriend, "they taste like oatmeal cookies with a little something extra that you can't really place". They still were tasty and chewy, but he was right.

I plan to remake these this weekend, and will add the entire 16oz can of pumpkin puree instead of just the 1cup to see if there's any difference, and maybe end up adding more than that if I still feel like there isn't enough. We also picked up molasses so we can make sure to correct that little flub, but I like having the apple pie spice instead of nutmeg, so that change stays, I think.

So, we would definitely give these a 5/5. Something to put into the "make a lot" pile if it wasn't seasonal treat. I recommend everyone who likes oatmeal cookies to try this, especially if you like pumpkin at all.

Update: Remade them tonight, using molasses and the full can of pumpkin puree. I had never seen molasses before (I swear I'm from the south!), so opening the jar was an event in and of itself. I expected something like really sweet, dark, honey-like syrup. The smell that hit me was more akin to soy sauce someone poured honey in and somehow let it go bad. I tasted a bit, and yeah, it was sweet, but jeez it smelled awful. Who eats this stuff? Give me honey anyday.

Despite my new-found dislike for one of the main ingredients, I went on with the baking. Tasting the dough (hell yeah cookie dough!) I could definitely pick up on the pumpkin better, so I was very hopeful. After that, everything went as expected, until the first batch came out of the oven. 15 minutes wasn't enough, so they went back in for another 5, but hey still came out a squishy. I let them sit for a bit, and they cooked themselves a little, and got these really amazingly crispy delicious tops, but the bottoms were still...well, sticky. We chalked this up to using a new set of Airbake baking sheets, so I pulled out the old one I had used last week. They still took 20 min to bake through, but the bottoms got really brown. I'm a bit perplexed, to be honest. None of them taste bad, mind you, but why such a difference in texture?

Oh well. They still taste awesome. Til next time!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Rainy Day Bento

This is a bit of a late post, but I've been busy with moving back to campus, so I hadn't had time to get this up. It was our bento from last Wednesday, and since the weather had been monstrous around here lately, we had to eat it inside. The picture quality isn't too good because of the lighting, so you'll have to forgive us. :(

We gave this meal about a 4/5. All the pieces were good, but we could have made them better with a little tweaking, and the curry we were expecting something different, but it wasn't bad by any means, just not what we were expecting.

Top tier: Salad with Ross's homemade cherry vinaigrette dressing, feta crumbles, and walnuts, and a fruity "dessert" (for lack of what else to really call it) made from fresh peach chunks, Laughing Cow swiss cheese triangles, and apple butter.

The salad (if you'll pardon the terrible picture) was good, however we both agreed that it could have been better. We were under the assumption that we had fresh cherries for the dressing. But nope! We were determined, however to make the vinaigrette anyway, so Ross used a jar of sugar-free cherry preserves. It wasn't bad, but would have been better. We also realized after getting set up that we both would have liked more feta. The walnuts did add a little bit of texture that would have otherwise been missed, so that was a major plus. Besides, who doesn't like cherry-walnut salad?

The fruit mix was really my favorite of the top tier dishes. I LOVE peaches, and these were just under ripe, so the sugar from the apple butter didn't add too much to the sweetness. If they had been perfectly ripe, I think it might have been too sweet. Adding the apple butter was a last-minute suggestion by Ross because he said it needed more color. Seeing as it's all mostly pinky-orange or red, adding the deep red of the butter didn't seem to help much in that direction in my opinion, but whatever. It still tasted good. And I always love swiss cheese and fruit. It's healthy and delicious. :)

Here's a pic with the flash on, to try to capture some of the color. Didn't work too well. I still say we need a much better camera for this!

Bottom tier: Mango curry and rice. I am a BIG fan of curry. And mangoes. We thought that putting them together would be the best idea, and we were right. The only problem was that we were expecting it to be spicy, and it wasn't. It was sweet. A minor let-down, but it was still very tasty. We used Boca Chik'n nuggets for our protein, and it worked out really well, and the curry was Patak's Original brand, which we've used before for their Tikki Masala and loved. I think we'll definitely be making this again at some point, just when we aren't craving spicy curry.

Overall, I think we both liked the meal, but it was a blah day with the storm outside, and it dampened our mood a little. With a better day, and a little bit of tweaking with each of the pieces of the meal, it would have had a better score with us.

Oh, and the tea on the side there is a Rooiboos karoo tea, which we selected for its spicy flavor to compliment the curry XD
It still worked, but only as more of a substitute instead.

I think the fruit/swiss cheese is going to become a staple of my diet, since everytime we've had it, I've loved it :D

'Til next time!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Today's Bento Adventure

We gave this one a 5/5. We liked all the parts to it, and I tried really hard to make a better presentation than we'd previously had.

Top tier: "Chik'n" patty sandwiches (Ross's with bleu cheese and fake bacon bits, mine with just pickles), strawberries separated by arugula baran, cherries, and blueberries.

Mmm strawberries...

Neither of us really like arugula that much outside of a real salad, so we ended up just tossing it into the garden, but it helped keep the sandwiches from getting all squishy from the berries :)

Cherries and blueberries that were just starting to go off a little, so I wanted to use them up. It started out as just trying to fill in the spaces around the sandwiches, but it ended up pretty attractive, I think. Not to mention delicious :3

(I do really love berries :P)

Bottom tier: Regular Ramen noodles with a can of mandarin oranges, some peanut sauce, sesame oil, and soy sauce. It didn't look as pretty as the top did, but it really stole the show taste-wise.

Close up look at the oranges. I just love them. And orange + noodles + peanut is always a good idea. The only real problem was that there wasn't a good mixture of textures, but if we had had some peanuts to throw in, I think that would have fixed that, though I loved it just as it was.

After getting outside, we decided that some furikake on top of the noodles might be kind of good, so we grabbed some that we had prepared for an earlier bento and dashed it on. Ross made it out of white sesame seeds ground with salt, ginger powder, and a little black pepper for color. It doesn't add too much to taste, but then again, I don't think it needed to in this case.

Overall, the sandwiches were yummy yummy (if you don't mind the technical jargon there), the berries always awesome, and the orange peanut ramen especially stellar, with just a hint of heat mixing oh so well with the cool of the oranges. I will definitely do this on again sometime. It made a contented kitty :3

It made my face do this. :)

Mmmmmmmmm....happy tummy.

Ross says he would have liked some kind of salad on the side, but with these particular bento, we might not have had room unless we moved the ramen aside (which, on reflection, would be fine really) and put some either next to a baran or in a side dish cup with some dressing containers.

I loved the food, but would have liked some cute food picks. Since we're "bunny and kitty" some appropriately-themed ones would be really nice, but I have none, and can only ever find rabbits paired with bears for some reason :( I also would like some different sauce containers, as we've only obtained the see-through soy sauce ones. While I do like those, some "zomgkawaii" ones would be awesome :3

Until next time!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Been a few days since my last post, but we went on a small vacation and I've been a bit tired since then.

Carowinds isn't quite what it used to be. Not nearly as whimsical as I remembered it, but then it's been over a decade since my family's last trip there. This time I went with my boyfriend and his parents. I had a good time, however I definitely missed the Hannah-Barbara section. It felt dirtier somehow, too, though as a kid I probably just didn't notice the grime. It's your typical amusement park. Rides and food and shops everywhere. There's a water park area as well, if you're willing to pay a little extra for it. I used to like the water park; swimming in the wave pool and such, but I don't recall it being mostly 14 year old girls half dressed and showing off themselves. That was pretty creepy. There really should be more inforcement about wearing pants outside of the waterpark. It's one thing to be in a bathing suit underwater, but when walking around families with no clothes on hanging on your teenage sweetheart and making out in public is a little disgusting. We get it. You think you're hot. You know what's hotter? Self-respect. Gain some and the quality of your dating pool will rise. /rant

All in all, it wasn't a bad day. On the contrary, I had a good time, though the company might be part of the fun. I have always been afraid of roller coasters, so I took this opportunity to try to get over that. Granted, I didn't get on any of the bigger ones, but what I did ride was more than I ever had. At least at one time. Next time I go back I'll get on something scarier. I'm just proud of myself for trying :P. We topped the day off with some funnel cake and left the park.

After Carowinds we came back home. We had planned on making a two-day trip of it, but after a while we just got a little bored. To make up for it a little, we went to Greenville for a couple of hours the next day. Ross and I got bubble tea at O-cha Tea Bar and cuddled under the bridge while his parents did a little shopping.

Also, we just (finally) got Netflix. We got the disks for the PS3 and the Wii as well, so I've spent pretty much since the vacation watching things from my childhood. On the TV right now is Jim Henson's Storyteller, which was on HBO first thing in the morning before school when I was in elementary school. So many days started with this show and a bowl of Lucky Charms, wrapped in a blanket half-asleep and finishing up homework.

Oh I want some sugary-cereal goodness...


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Ross got a free trial of Netflix last night, so after we did a couple of pug RS raids we fired it up on his laptop and ran it to his awesome tv. Watched a looot of Top Gear :).

We love the interaction between the guys on the show. It's such a male series, but I grew up loving cars with my dad, so maybe I'm just lucky and have a little bit of residual testosterone or something, because it's one of my favorite things to watch. I would love to have the access to supercars these guys do. *daydream*

My dream car is a '69 Chevy Corvette Stingray, gunmetal grey. Doesn't even have to be convertible. And I hate T-tops, so that's right out. I'd want to put a new sound system in it, and update the airconditioning a bit, but other than that, it'd be perfect in the original state. Well, as long as it still runs, and hasn't succumbed to the ravages of age, that is. >.<

This amazing blue works, too. *drools*
How can anyone not look at this and be in awe?

For anyone that hasn't watched Top Gear yet, like most of Americans...shame on you...go there and get some clips or something. Top Gear is on BBCAmerica, finally, so look up the times and curl up on the couch with your best gal (or guy, ladies) and start laughing. Even if you're not that into cars, it's a funny show, and you learn a lot.

Plus the Stig might just be watching you...

Monday, July 5, 2010

Sitting in the floor watching an LP of Blood Bowl with my bf. We would really like to get some LPs of our own going, but we lack the equipment (and the motivation :P) to do it right now. We've been wondering for a while about where to start with our food blog, so that will take priority over any other projects. I can't wait to get it started.

Had a friend over last night for the 4th, and that was fun. Wish the others that were originally coming could have made it, but family comes first, and I understand that. The little cousins came, and that was great. We haven't seen them since their grandfather's funeral, so we've missed them. They learned not to stand too close to mortar shells, and that they really really like ginger ale. They are so cute when they aren't being monsters.

The scale at this house is broken, and I think is abotu 10 lbs off, putting me at 119.0 and not 109.0 I'm thin, but not that thin >.<. I KNOW it's at least a little off, because it tells me my BMI is 8. Wouldn't I be dead if it were that low? I would really like a new scale to use. But for now, I'm using it to see how much I'm going up or down, and it kind of takes a little of the stress out of it to not know exactly the weight, but the change. I'm also working on a weight-loss theory that if it fleshes out, I'll talk about later.

My eBay watch list is getting sooo freaking long! I've only received one of the dresses I ordered in my little cheap-dress spending spree the other week, and I'll be super upset if I got gypped. Maybe I should make a wishlist on here to keep up with the things I need, like new glasses and my wisdom teeth taken out? And maybe some slots for things I want....

Well, anyway, first post entered. Took over a year after getting the blog due to lots of drama and homelessness and depression that happened right after I made it. See you soon!