16.9.13

Brownie Pillow

There is a time in a CTE teachers life every season wholly dedicated to conferences. Full blown, 8-5, PowerPoint riddled, free-lanyard covered conferences. Some dull, some interesting, all long. One conference I attended in August (2 days) had a bright spot among the group activities and endless handouts. The brownie pillow. Nestled between other store-bought confections and veggie platters, this little jewel took me to a beautiful place for the last 2 hours of conference day one. What would seem to be another sugar rich flat cookie from Albertsons (Fresh-Mart??), was in fact a texturally complicated baked good. Chewy and dark, while still light and sweet? Like a sugar cookie tightly hugging a tender brownie.
I sneaked some Google searches in between “note taking” and found one disappointing recipe after the other. All required baking a box of brownies, and then squish-rolling said brownies into a ball, then covering the ball of pre-chewed brownie in chocolate chip cookie dough (store bought being cookie of choice). The result looking like a pregnant flounder, and only one greasy brownie bite in the whole thing.
Now that was completely snobbish of me to write, but when I see inequality and bakery blasphemy like that, I must correct it. So I invented my own recipe, and I want to share it with you (which is kind of un-snobbish of me to do).
Just look okay?
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Do you see why this is so important?
Now I’m going to do a blog like recipe reveal for this one, but just bare with me. I want to set the brownie Pillow record straight.
Method: 2 cookie doughs, measure out equal balls, refrigerate, combine. freeze, bake
For both doughs start by creaming butter and sugar until nice and fluffy. Butter is what takes this from day-old bake shelf to after dinner show-stoppers. (I know, I’m going to do this food blog way remember?)
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After creaming the butter and sugar, add the eggs one at a time, beating really well before adding the next. This should help the batter stay fluffy and velvety, like this:
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Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. The sugar cookie dough should be like playdough, hardly sticky at all. If not, add some flour.
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If you have a cookie scoop, pull that sucker out and make your life easier. I scooped the sugar cookie dough into a separate bowl, covered it and refrigerated it. Cold dough will make things a lot easier. My scoop is about 3/4’s, or the equivalent of 2 tbsp. We want good sized cookies here.
Next, start your “brownie” cookie. Don’t even bother washing the bowl and mixer, who cares? The secret to getting a cookie that tastes like a brownie is this recipe. Just stop looking. Same method, but this time our dough is going to be a bit softer, and we are throwing in some chocolate shavings for extra richness (because lets face it, once we started using butter, we just had to go all the way.)
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Yeah. That’s going in our cookie.
No chocolate bar? Don’t use chips, because we want a flat, level end-product. The shavings aren’t even that necessary, but just make the cookie better enough that I care. Dark, rich, moist, this is what the chocolate helps us achieve. Yeah, the cookie is pretty dang good without it.  In fact, I like this recipe so much I didn’t bother to change it, and you are going to get some leftovers. Save that dough for later!
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Mixing the dry ingredients in. Notice messy bowl, and no I don’t combine dry ingredients separately at home. No time.
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Do you see the depths of chocolate?
Now lets take a break, because I want to say that I love both of these cookie recipes by themselves. It’s just that sometimes when you have the patience something's are more amazing together.
Scoop this dough into a separate bowl, cover and refrigerate. Use the same size cookie scoop (about 2 tbsp). Let the dough chill for 1-2 hours, the colder the better. Plus you might thank me later for this break. It’s about to get crazy.
After the dough is good and cold start combining.
Flatten a sugar cookie dough ball, top with a chocolate ball (sometimes a chocolate ball a little smaller then the sugar cookie one worked better for me)
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Cover the chocolate with the sugar cookie dough, there is an art to this, but you will get it. Use floured hands and a floured surface.
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Pat or roll out the dough about 1/4 inch thick (on a floured surface). Like a sugary papusa! Lean towards the thicker side if you are nervous.
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Place cookies on a sheet, 6 on a pan, and freeze for 10-15 minutes. This will help keep the nice shape, and keep the cookies thicker. Meanwhile keep rolling out the cookies…
Bake for 9-11 minutes and you have it! The sugar cookie should be dry, but light colored on top, then golden blonde on the bottom.
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The more equal brownie and sugar dough, the more awesome marbling you get. (less brownie dough then sugar dough = smoother top)
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So…. do you want the recipe?
Okay.
But this is important, no more smooshing brownies and covering them cookie dough and baking again. You know better. You know better…
Brownie Pillow
sugar cookie dough :
14 T butter
2/3 cup + 3 T Sugar
1 egg
¼ tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/3 cup flour
  1. Cream Margarine and sugar till fluffy
  2. Beat in egg till combined (and a bit fluffy)
  3. Add vanilla and the rest of the ingredients. Mix until combined (do not overbeat)
  4. Portion into equal sized balls, about 2tbsp and refrigerate for at least an hour
  5. Prepare Brownie cookie
Brownie Cookie
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped dark  chocolate
  1. In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar (with a wooden spoon) until creamy and a little fluffy.
  2. Add the eggs one at a time and vanilla and beat until well blended after each addition
  3. Add dry ingredients and mix until combined.
  4. Finally, add chocolate and combine
  5. Portion chocolate balls same size as sugar cookie dough-balls. Cover and refrigerate.
  6. Preheat oven to 350
  7. When dough is cold start assembling. Flatten sugar cookie dough and wrap it around a chocolate cookie ball. Once covered, roll or pat out on a floured surface about 1/4” thick. Place 6 of these on a cookie sheet and freeze for 10-15 minutes.
  8. Bake for 9-12 minutes. Cookies should look dry on top with a few cracks, and golden on the bottom, do not let them get brown, or they will get too crispy.






15.9.13

Birthday Breakfast

Mr. Wood turned 26 yesterday. I started his morning off right with this fancy breakfast, because what man doesn’t want a fancy breakfast for his birthday?

 

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His birthday Juice.

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Waffles with berry and plum compote, and sweetened ricotta.

The rest of his birthday was nice too, but un-photographed.

19.8.13

We got 2 years

Mr. Wood and I have been married for 2 years and 1 day. And it is true, marriage really does get better every year. For that fact alone I will continually be grateful and work hard for the marriage that we have and that we want.

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Our celebration was a little more home-based this year. Saturday Mr. Wood took me on a torrential rainstorm roadtrip to Draper, then back to Provo with calmer weather and Black Sheep Cafe. It’s pretty swanky, Mr. Wood even ordered Rabbit which was so tender and delicious. I got the Navajo Taco Trio, which was also quite good, but maybe not as swanky..

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look, it’s us on the actual 2nd anniversary day. August 18th 2013

He also gave me a bouquet!

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Mr. Wood once promised he would only give me flowers when I least expected it. Now, I’m a hard one to surprise. But I really didn’t expect flowers on my anniversary! That would be too obvious! So he got me.

Then Sunday, our real anniversary, I was in charge of the meal.

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I got out Grandma Malaska’s China.

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There was a blackberry apple pie

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Mr. Wood made some fresh bread. I called up a creamy balsamic basil salad for the first course. And finally, Steak “au Poivre” with a creamy red-wine and mushroom sauce. Really an improvisation, which is what I get for not deciding how to make the steak until Sunday. With a side of Crispy Parmesan Roasted Potato, and Garlic Sesame Green Beans.

It was almost as wonderful as 2 years of marriage to your best friend.

Almost.

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Shannon

Oregon step 2

Day 2 in Portland we roamed Portland parks. We were too busy to take many photos.

1st: Mt. Tabor: A little dormant (dead?) volcano in the middle of town, and excellent viewpoints.

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2nd: “Forest Park”: There is a point when the city ends and the forest begins. Here you will find Forest Park. We read Colin Meloy’s children’s series “Wildwood” earlier in the summer, where he refers to Forest park (aka wildwood) and St. Johns, so we had to visit. This is a good old forest, that is difficult to find entrance to.

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ew.

3rd International Rose test gardens: When I was young I was convinced this place was unbearably huge. One could hardly traverse it in a day without a nap and a snack. Maybe it isn’t as big as my childhood, but it is still gorgeous and very large.

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It’s like. a million roses.

4th and Last Silver falls: where we camped for the night! Wow, camping is a lot more fun with your husband. Then say when you don’t get any sleep because 20 teenage girls are chittering about the bishop’s son nonstop.

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Of course there are hikes. But we were pretty pooped by then to go very far. There is also a river where Mr. Wood called his manliness to him so that we could jump into it at 8:30 at night. In the mountains!

I’ve always liked this hike because you get to walk underneath the fall!

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That morning we packed up before the camp awoke, and left for the coast! Finally, the sweet spray of ocean! The clean air! The smooth sand! And the constant 30 mph winds!

We stopped at Devil’s punch bowl, saw some tide pools, walked around historic Newport Bayfront where this happened:

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Yeah! So, right as we were driving on the street at the bottom of the photo we watched as a river of fish guts rolled down the hill. Those huge boxes? All tumbled out. All filled with fish remains. Nasty.

Don’t worry, they brought in a small firetruck and snow shovels to clean/spray it out.

The coast, though gorgeous, was a complete sandblast. So no pictures. But Mr. Wood again subjected himself to freezing Oregon Waters and dunked in the ocean.

IMG_1363We stayed at Nye beach. Exhausted.  And enjoyed the views from or window.

While at the coast it is hard to imagine how people live without the coast.

 

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The next morning we enjoyed a frigid kite fly, then headed somberly back to the Desert. Where we now reside.

Shannon

6.8.13

The Oregon Trip

IMG_1227 We had a road trip! I grew up in Oregon, and it was about time to visit the place. Mr. Wood had to see if it really was the over glorified sanctuary I always described it as.

Turns out it is.

We left Sunday evening, which led to our first “sleeping in a rest-stop” experience. This one appropriately called “dead man’s pass”.

We drove through the gorge to get into the state, which made our first touristy stop “Horse tail falls”. Sure we could of gone onto the more popular, famous Multnomah type falls, but after Idaho anything seems breathtakingly gorgeous. And who needs crowds?

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The fresh air, greenery and peacefulness of moving water is perfect for healing a weary travelers soul.

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After that we slowly made  our way to Corvallis. Maybe a little to eager lay down straight we stopped at Avery park for a nap.

The followed by a lovely meal at a friend’s house and then one of my favorite less known places near my home-town Corvallis. Kings Valley is best viewed near sunset and is the purest form of “my Oregon” that I know of. “My Oregon” being the Oregon I remember growing in, running in, driving on gravel roads for hours as my family explored every nook and cranny. Just forest.

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Beazell Forest is always my first stop in Kings valley. It has some lovely moderate hikes straight into old forest, complete with bubbling brook. It also has this quaint empty house.

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After a quick tromp we headed towards Fort Hoskins. Which includes a very old orchard and some gorgeous views.

 

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Day 2: a tromp in downtown Corvallis.

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Okay. So I only have one picture of my teenage stomping grounds. But who cares? We were having to much fun. The Carlson’s treated us to lunch at American Dream pizza. The website makes it look kitsch. But it is a cool kid staple of Corvallis life. Pizza that is so good I won’t even try to explain. But just know it is worth it.

Day 3: Portland, the city

We used airbnb.com to find accommodations in Portland for 2 days. The owners were kind enough to let us use their bikes. So we started off day 3 with a 14 mile bike ride twisting around highways, towns and forests on the outer edge of Portland. Then we set off into the big city starting with a lunch at Burger Guild. You probably know Portland Oregon is one of those “hip” cities. Don’t roll your eyes. We all know if it wasn’t for “hip” we wouldn’t have cool new forms of popular food. Take the Food truck. Without hipster cities the food truck would of never developed into more than just hotdogs and falafel.

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Burger Guild. I don’t even know why we were compelled to find this among dozens of others but it was so worth it. Packed in a parking lot dedicated to food trucks, this under-reviewed gem has my new favorite burger. Shoot. I don’t even know what it is called. But all his burgers (yes it is just one man) are stuffed with delicious. Mine had kalamata olives, feta and peppers. Mr. Wood’s was filled with Muenster cheese, mushroom and some spicy pickled pepper mix. So good! If I had to build a pro/con list of moving to Portland Oregon, Burger Guild would weigh heavily in "Pro’s” column. 

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Oh what is that? Sweet potato fries dusted with fresh herbs? Oh thank you burger guild. Thank you very much.

I am tempted to turn the rest of this post into a food blog. But I won’t. Let’s move on.

IMG_1283Did you know you can take any public transportation around Portland Oregon all day for only $5? Yeah. You can. But Mr. Wood and I are crazy and drove in. Bonus, we got to stop by the mall. The train is actually quite nice though, and we rode that across the bridge.

 

We forgot to take pictures most of the day, because I just love wandering through a big city. And it is so fun to do with your spouse. Portland is part old, part new, part creepy, part gorgeous, so perfect for exploring.

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We spent the afternoon walking through several districts, getting lost in Powell's book store. Stopping at fountains and parks and anthropologie. Oh, Boy’s Fort or “Manthropology” was a new favorite of mine. Part collection of aesthetically pleasing items for the male, part botanical shop. It smelled really good. Tired feet and Eye weary we meandered back towards place to rest, only to be deterred by ice-cream. “Salt and Straw” ice-cream to be specific. So creamy, so worth it.

With that, I will end. The rest of the trip will have to be documented in part 2. But don’t worry, we aren’t dragging this out into a trilogy.

Shannon