Monday, February 7, 2011

Chewy Chocolate Mint Cookies

I have a post on feminist marriage that I've been playing with for weeks, and another on gender roles and child rearing. And instead I'm posting about cookies.

Is this a metaphor for my life? Okay, okay, I'm intellectualizing again.

Anyway, I made these cookies for a Super Bowl party, and hot.damn they were good. Some of the best I've ever made. The recipe is adapted from the best cookbook of all time, The Complete America's Test Kitchen Cookbook. Everything I've made from this book has been amazing. Go buy it.

I used Andes mint baking chips, which made the cookies taste like chewy Thin Mints. And since my Girl Scout cookie order won't be arriving for another few weeks, these will have to do.

Also, this is on it's way to my house:

Tell your husband that you want a Packers t-shirt, and he's ordered it faster than I can finish one of these cookies.

Chewy Chocolate Mint Cookies

(based on the chocolate cookie recipe from The Complete America's Test Kitchen Cookbook)

1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/2 cup for coating
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 Dutch processed cocoa (I just used Hershey's)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1 large egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 package (10 ounces) of Andes Mints baking chips OR 1 teaspoon peppermint extract

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Add 1/2 cup white sugar to a bowl. Whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl. Whisk the corn syrup, egg white, vanilla, and optional peppermint extract together in a small bowl.
2. In a standing mixer or using a hand mixer, beat the butter, brown sugar, and remaining white sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy (the book says two minutes, but my cookies took less time). Reduce speed to low and add the corn syrup mixture until fully incorporated, about 20 seconds. Add the flour mixture and mint chips until fully incorporated. Chill the dough for 30 minutes.
3. Divide the dough into equal portions, about 2 tablespoons each. Roll each portion into a ball and coat the portions in white sugar. Place the dough balls onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Bake, switching and rotating the sheets halfway through the baking time*, until the cookies are puffed and cracked and the edges have begun to set but the centers are still soft (the cookies will look raw between the cracks), 10 to 11 minutes.
4. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 5 minutes; transfer the cookies to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.

*This cookbook has you rotating most of their cookies during the baking time. I've always done it, so I don't know what impact this step really has.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Knights, Dragons, Demons, and the Inquision

Guys, I have an addiction. An extremely nerdy addiction. Here goes.

I can't stop reading this:

More specifically, the series A Song of Ice and Fire. I finished this book two weeks ago and I'll already two books ahead.

I heard about the book because HBO is turning it into a series. It sounded intriguing, plus I'm surrounded by fantasy lovers. I don't normally like books like this, but I. can't. stop. reading. It's like Lord of the Rings if V.C. Andrews wrote it. Betrayal! Incest! Murder! and, more importantly, dragons!

Seriously, I've been reading these books at night under the covers with a book light. It's a little amazing/sick.

I proudly fly my nerd flag, although I feel a little self-conscious toting these books with me everywhere I go. They're huge--roughly 800 pages a piece--so it either looks like I'm reading the Bible or War and Peace on the train. Plus I generally read higher quality fiction (I love Jhumpa Lahiri and Tom Perrotta) so I'm a little embarrassed to be reading the literary equivalent of Sour Patch Kids.

There's one more book left in the series that I need to read, that is unless George R.R. Martin finally releases the next one. I think there are supposed to be six in the series total.

So, what is DH up to while I'm frantically reading?


DH is the GM (or game master) for our gaming group's Dark Heresy game. A GM is kind of like a storyteller or a referee. He writes/tells the story, sets the atmosphere, and makes sure the players are following the rules. (This is a very short explanation. If folks are interested, I could do a whole post on this topic.) It's a lot of work, and DH has been spending most of his free time going over Dark Heresy rule books. Our idea of a fun Friday night is us hunched over our respective books. Sounds amazing, I know.

Anyway, what are your guilty pleasure books? Any suggestions on good quality fiction?

Monday, January 3, 2011


Happy new year! Yes, this is late, but I'm on vacation until tomorrow so the holidays aren't over for me yet.

Christmas brought my MIL and SIL to Chicago, and we all celebrated at my parents' house in the suburbs. There was much eating and drinking, as well as a game of Scene It. I won, of course, because trivia is the only game I ever win.

DH and I spent New Years' Eve at a friend's house party. With deep-fried turkey! And steak! And homemade peanut butter balls! Speaking of, I may need to sneak into my friend's girlfriend's house to steal that recipe. Or ask her politely, whichever is easier. I don't have any pictures yet since my friends haven't added them to Facebook. Jeez guys, you need to get on that.

So, resolutions... I don't usually make them, but I thought I'd give them a try this year. All of them are easily achievable, and I always have DH to bug me in case I get lazy. Here goes:

1. Make something with the squash that's been sitting on our kitchen counter for three months. (Done. And the soup was delicious.)
2. Meditate on something I'm grateful for each day.
3. Go to the gym at least three times a week.
4. Take my vitamin every morning.
5. Blog at least twice a week.

Okay, I added the first one after it was already completed, but I wanted to get the resolutions off to a good start. And I'm going to cardio boxing tonight, so that's another step in the right direction.

I've lost a lot of motivation to blog lately, so my posts will probably be about food. Recipe entries are the easiest for me to write; I just have to remember to take pictures of the food before I eat it.

As far as being grateful: today I'm thankful for a washer and dryer. Our building has two washers and dryers for all the tenants, so jockeying for space can be cut-throat. I was complaining to myself about not having a washer/dryer in our apartment when I remembered living in Spain and not have a dryer at all. I had a clothes line outside my bedroom window, but I never got the hang of clothes pins. Waiting all day for a dryer beats asking your creepy Spanish neighbor to retrieve the underwear that had fallen on his air conditioner.

So, do you have any resolutions? What are you grateful for in the new year?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Here Again

Hey there, blogging world. It’s been a while.

I wish I could say I’ve been spending my time cooking gourmet meals and enjoying drinks with girlfriends or finishing a creative and adorable craft. Really I’ve been working, moping, and watching a lot of TV.

Not to bore you with details, but I’ve been depressed lately. I didn’t want to admit how much DH’s move has affected me, but I finally broke down last month. Both of us have been hurting lately, and we needed to reconnect.

Not to say that we didn’t have some fun times in the last month. There was my birthday, DH’s birthday, and Thanksgiving, just to name a few. Excellent food. An introduction (and mild obsession) with Turkish tea. Exciting and inspiring work projects.

Christmastime has bumped up my spirits a bit, that and long, meaningful conversations with DH. I do love him so.

(Taken this weekend by the lovely Jenna at her Christmas party!)

Thanks for listening to my self-reflection. I’ve got a few posts coming over the weekend, and next week is my holiday baking extravaganza. Expect many photos and family recipes.

Finally, here's our Christmas tree. It's a terrible picture, but I get warm and fuzzy when I think about it. I love the holidays.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

...And Many More!!!

It's November, and that means its birthday season in the Dorky Household. People must get really bored in February, because that's the only explanation I can think of for the insane number of birthdays we celebrate this month.

Here's the list in order of birthday (if I know you and I forgot you, I'm sorry!):
  • Me
  • My coworker (the day after me)
  • My grandmother (even though she died three years ago, I still celebrate)
  • A very close friend (Hi, S.!)
  • DH
  • My aunt
  • My cousin
  • My cousin's son
Yep, I'm first on the list. DH is taking me to the Museum of Science and Industry this weekend to celebrate. The museum itself is awesome, but right now they're featuring a Jim Henson exhibit (!!). AND, I'm told the exhibit features the "bride" Miss Piggy from The Muppets Take Manhattan.

Was I the only bride who had this stuck in her head on her wedding day?

DH's birthday is around Thanksgiving, so we usually celebrate with his family at Thanksgiving dinner.

Does anyone else have a crazy birthday month? How do you like to celebrate your birthday?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Please Vote

I'm taking a break from crazy cat posts and photos of inappropriate baked goods to encourage everyone to vote tomorrow. It seems a lot of people aren't happy with the candidates in their states, but it's still so, so important to get out and cast your ballot.

Illinois has given voters the choice between two serial underachievers for governor, so I still have to make my pick. I've got at least another 12 hours, right?

Full disclosure: DH and I met in College Democrats. We're not active in campaigning anymore, but civic engagement is a big deal for us. It bothers me when people my age don't vote and don't follow the issues. It's your country and your taxes, so you should at least get your views across in the voting booth.

(Obama's victory rally in Grant Park, election night 2008)

So, whether you support Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Greens, or anything in between, please vote!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Joys of Apartment Living

DH and I received this email from our landlord a few days ago. As background, the apartment below us has been vacant for about two months.

"Hi Dorky Husband and Dorky Wife,

One of the tenants in the building is considering renting the apartment below you.

The reason that he is considering the move is that he has continued issues with noisy neighbors above him. So, he is considering moving to another unit in the building.

The reason for the e-mail to you is that he was wondering if he could speak to you before he makes his decision. I think he would just kind of like to get an idea of your "lifestyle" before he makes a big move and then ends up in the same situation.

If you are comfortable with it, I told him that I would forward his number to you so that you could call him. His name is (blank) and his telephone number is (...).

Please let me know if you can give him a call in the next day or two.

Thanks and have a great day,
Your Landlord"

My gut reaction to this email was "ummm...No. No, I can't explain my 'lifestyle' to you." I shouldn't have to justify what I do in my own apartment, as long as I'm being reasonably considerate (e.g., no cat yodeling after 10 p.m.).

I did feel for the guy, though. We've had our share of crappy neighbors, especially in the apartment he was looking to rent. However, that's the risk you take by renting an apartment. Sometimes your neighbors are awesome, and sometimes they suck.

I asked some coworkers if my reaction unreasonable, and everyone thought this request was a bit much. Here's what I replied to our landlord:

"Hi Landlord,

Dorky Husband and I are not comfortable speaking with (possible tenant) about this issue. I don't consider us any nosier than regular tenants (unless there have been noise complaints about us in the past.) I hope he understands, and we will treat him with respect and consideration, just as we would with any neighbor, if he decides to change units.

Dorky Wife"

But here's what I really wanted to say:

"Hi Landlord,

I have no issue speaking to the possible tenant, especially since he's curious about our 'lifestyle.' My husband and I have two-month-old triplets, who are just the apples of our eyes. Yes, they have colic and have never slept more than two hours at a time, but we just love our wittle babies, yes we do!

Dorky Husband moonlights as a firefighter, so he will often break down locked doors for practice. I have taken up professional clog dancing, and with regionals coming up, I need to practice day and night. Of course, that's not when I'm training our assortment of exotic screaming monkeys.

If the new tenant has no problem with a family of firefighting, monkey training, clog dancing new parents, then he'll be right at home.

Dorky Wife"

Have you ever dealt with bad neighbors? How did you cope?