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Wednesday
Mar162011

Vanilla Almond Cupcakes

Vanilla Almond Cupcake

This past weekend I took some time off to be with family to go skiing. It's a spring break tradition we started when I was younger and have kept it up since. This year's destination was to Red Lodge, Montana. It's a small tourist town with the quaintest little main street you've ever seen, surrounded by mountains perfect for skiing or snowboarding (and hiking in summer).

The weather was perfect. It was bright and sunny with little wind and I couldn't have asked for anything better. With few clouds, the view from the top of the mountain was unbelievable. The mountains and country seemed to extend on forever. My sister thought she could easily see far enough to reach into the next state. I agreed.

Skiing in Red Lodge

Skiing in Red Lodge

Though the sun was shining, I still bundled up like I was headed into the arctic for the next year. Three layers on the bottom, five on the top, and a neck warmer that covered everything but the tip of my nose (which was the only part of me that sunburned, by the way. Call me Rudolph). Though, it was worth it. There are few things more exhilarating than skiing down a mountain as fast as you can.

Red Lodge Main Street

After a long day on the slopes, nothing seems better than a plate full of food. The main street is full of original shops and restaurants, including Bogart's (our favorite restaurant). Order the giant plate of nachos. And a margarita (or two). It's the best you'll ever have.

Bogart's Restaurant Montana Candy Emporium
Montana Candy Emporium

The town is also home to the Montana Candy Emporium. It is a renovated movie theater turned candy shop. It sells just about every discontinued or old-timey candy you can imagine, holding it all in rows of barrels. With vintage signs and paraphernalia, this place is really a sight.

Vanilla Almond Cupcakes

We stayed in a small cottage at the base of the mountain. Even though it was without internet (gasp), we found a way to entertain each other. Sometimes it just feels good to get a break from technology and reality, for just a little while.

Vanilla Almond Cupcakes

These cupcakes are light and subtly sweet. The vanilla almond cupcake has vanilla tones with sliced almonds right in the mix. The cake is barely sweet to allow the almond to shine. The frosting is a basic vanilla frosting with a hint of almond extract to cut the sweetness. The flavors in this cupcake really shine—neither the vanilla or almond outshine each other. These cupcakes are perfect for afternoon tea.

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Monday
Mar142011

Cereal and Milk Bars

cereal and milk bars

My sister loved these Brown Butter Rice Krispie Bars so much I made them twice in one weekend. Each time the batch didn't last more than 18 hours sitting on my kitchen counter. Either no one in my family has any self-restraint or these actually are addictive, delicious, little bars.

I'm going to go with the latter.

cereal and milk bars

After so much success with those browned butter bars, I thought I would try my hand with something along a similar vein—cereal and milk bars. I've seen this idea in the stores but I can't quite bring myself to buy them (mainly because they are stuffed with preservatives and still taste stale). I figured making these myself couldn't be too hard (after all, they are very similar to rice krispie bars), so I decided to give them a try.

I chose to use multi-grain cheerios because these are a favorite in my household. I figured I'm adding enough sugar with the marshmallows so using a healthier cereal would keep these bars from popping my shirt buttons. Though, I imagine a brightly colored cereal would make these look irresistible.

cereal and milk bars

This recipe is so diverse because you can honestly use any cereal of your choosing. The bars have a chewy and crunchy texture. The browned butter gives them a subtle nutty flavor with a greater depth of flavor. The milk glaze gives them more of a "bowl full of cereal" quality to them. If you like rice krispie bars, these are for you.

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Friday
Mar112011

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

peanut butter chocolate chip cookies

Three and a half years ago, living in my first apartment in college, I thought having a pet fish was the greatest idea ever. And it was, for a year or so. I had my very own fishy friend and he had a surprisingly interesting little personality that kept me entertained. I bought him a few friends and they had a swimmingly time together.

Three years later, having pet fish suddenly doesn't seem like the greatest idea ever. That very same fish tank now sits in my bedroom and begs to be cleaned more often then I remember.

I haven't always been the best fish mother. Sometimes I forget to feed them. Sometimes I don't clean the tank for a month. Yet, my fish preserver. They are survivors. I don't understand how people struggle to keep fish alive. I'm beginning to believe mine are incapable of dying.

peanut butter chocolate chip cookies
peanut butter chocolate chip cookies

Lately, my fish tank has been making strange noises in the night. The filter (or fish?) perfectly mimics the sound of someone breathing. Long intake of breath. Short exhale. Repeat. The pattern never strays from the steady beat. The sound is subtle. In the hustle and bustle of the day, you couldn't hear it if you really, really tried.

But late at night, when the house is dark and quiet, it's there. Sometimes it takes me offguard and for a split second, I think someone is in my room with me, quietly breathing behind me, lying in wait. Soon enough (and a heart attack later), I realize it's just the fish.

I really ought to get that checked out before I actually have a heart attack.

peanut butter chocolate chip cookies

First and foremost, if you are going to make these cookies, make a double batch. I didn't and immediately after tasting one, I sorely regretted it. These peanut butter chocolate chip cookies are everything you want in a cookie. The outside is crisp while the inside stays soft and tender. They are perfect for dunking or eating plain (though you will want a glass of milk). I used chunky peanut butter to give my cookies more of a crunch though I have no reason to believe creamy peanut butter wouldn't be just as great. If you are a cookie lover, I recommend you give these a shot.

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