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Sunday
Apr102011

Chocolate Nests

Chocolate Nests

It's no secret that I'm clumsy. My parents like to joke that they should have named me Grace. Oh, the irony. If only they had the foresight to actually do so—now that would have been truly ironic.

Unfortunately, my clumsiness (and uncanny ability to trip while standing still) extends to the kitchen. I'm a hazard to myself. I've burned myself more often than I can count. Currently, my arms and hands are host to a grand total of six burns. I honestly couldn't tell you where half of them came from. It's reached the point where I don't even notice when I've done it. Sometimes I tell people I won a battle between a renegade cupcake pan and myself. But really, who am I trying to kid? That cupcake pan kicked my butt.

I'm just glad baking doesn't require much knife work.

Chocolate Nests

After all that fuss, I decided that it might be smart to make something no-bake this week. No knives, no ovens, no chance to injure myself unless I seriously forget the function of a spatula.

In honor of spring and the upcoming Easter holiday, I thought these chocolate nests would be perfect. I remember seeing these in cookbooks as a child, but I had never made or eaten them before. I figured it was time to put my childhood curiosity to rest. Since Easter candy is rampant this time of year, it's the best time of year to make these treats.

Chocolate Nests

These Chocolate Nests are made from chow mein noodles coated in peanut butter and chocolate. I was initially hesitant to use chow mein noodles for these treats (chow mein noodles are associated more with stir fry and less with dessert in my head), but these noodles were destined for this dessert. I couldn't have been more wrong about them. They provide the perfect crunch and look with minimal taste so the chocolate and peanut butter really shine through. You can use any candy of your choosing for the eggs—mini candy eggs, jelly beans, foil wrapped chocolate eggs. The sky is really the limit here.

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Friday
Apr082011

Strawberry Pancakes

Strawberry Pancakes

This is a public service announcement brought to you by the National Highway Traffic Safety Council. Well, kinda.

It was a typical Wednesday afternoon. I went to the grocery store like I do every Wednesday afternoon, picking up the usual fare with one exception—a watermelon. Spring was in the air, it was 50 degrees outside, and it seemed like a good decision. Especially since it was on sale.

After making my purchases, I packed the groceries in the backseat of the car and headed home. I like to drive slow with a car full of groceries because I don't want them to roll around and make a big mess of the backseat—it's a very big pet peeve of mine. As I was driving down a steep hill, the car in front of me stopped suddenly which meant that I stopped suddenly. It's a real shame my groceries didn't get the memo. They flew about the backseat like birds just released from a cage. And that precious watermelon of mine, the one that seemed like such a good idea only moments before, bounced out of the bag, off the seat, and managed to hit me straight in the side.

I was hit by a watermelon. In a car.

Explain the physics of that one to me.

Strawberry Pancakes

After the initial shock of did-I-really-just-get-walloped-by-a-watermelon? wore off, I realized I had managed to puncture it with my elbow and it was now releasing watermelon juice at an alarming rate. As in getting-sticky-watermelon-juice-all-over-the-front-seat-of-my-car alarming. The orderly nature of my groceries had been shot to hell and my front seat was beginning to look like a gory crime scene.

I was peeved.

By the time I made it home, my only goal was to get that watermelon to the kitchen sink as fast as possible. It was a perfect plan except for one caveat—I'm clumsy. Yes, I managed to drop the wounded watermelon in the garage. Yes, it cracked open and shot watermelon juice everywhere. Yes, I had a second crime scene on my hands.

By the time I finally got it to the sink, it was in shambles—a shell of its former delicious self. So I did what any self-respecting person would do, I dug into the remains with a fork and cried over spilled watermelon. You would have too.

The moral of the story is to wear your seatbelt. You never know when you'll be hit by a flying watermelon. It's probably a good idea to buckle your watermelon in too.

Better yet, next time save yourself the trauma and buy strawberries instead.

Strawberry Pancakes

These strawberry pancakes are light, fluffy, and thick. Packed with strawberries, you'll have a burst of berry flavor in every bite (which is a welcome sight when you're desperate for spring). The pancakes are not overly sweet, so you have the power to control how sweet you'd like your breakfast. I enjoyed these drizzled with a little honey and maple syrup. These pancakes make for a lovely spring brunch.

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Wednesday
Apr062011

Thin Mint Brownies

Thin Mint Brownies

I have a confession to make. Not too long ago, I was the little girl at your doorstep. You know her. She was the shy little girl dressed in a uniform, hair braided down the sides, nervously clutching a sheet of paper. She looked up at you with big eyes and had an even bigger question to ask.

Would you like to buy some Girl Scout Cookies?

Thin Mint BrowniesThin Mint Brownies

I was a Girl Scout for many years and loved every minute of it. I sold cookies because it was a good fundraiser for the Girl Scouts. Buying a box of cookies from me would help send me to camp over the summer and pay for the activities I participated in, opening up a world of new opportunities. Or, at least this is what I told my cookie customers. More honestly, I just wanted to sell enough cookies to win a free giant stuffed duck. Somehow I don't think this pitch would have gone over as well.

Hi! Buy cookies from me because I want a free duck! It doesn't quack, but its squishy and bigger than my head!

Luckily, my pitch didn't matter because when it comes to selling Girl Scout cookies, I wouldn't even have to utter a word to sell a few boxes. No one can say no to these cookies. These cookies have been popular so long that by now everyone has their own favorite. My favorite happens to be the Samoas (those delicious chocolate caramel cookies), but the Thin Mints come in a close second.

Because Girl Scout cookies are so loved this time of year, I thought I'd share something else you can do with them besides eating the entire box in one sitting (which has been known to accidentally happen).

Thin Mint Brownies

These Thin Mint brownies are just fun. The brownies are fudgy and moist with an undeniable chocolate mint flavor. The Thin Mints are crushed and folded into the brownie batter to give the brownies that full Thin Mint flavor. The cookies may lose their crunch, but they certainly do not lose their characteristic taste. Make these if you have Girl Scout cookies laying around. Make them even if you don't—any chocolate mint cookie will do.

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