Baking

Snickerdoodles

snd3

I was really craving some snickerdoodles the other day, and I was pleased to discover I had all but one ingredient to make them. That one ingredient was cream of tartar. At the time, I had no idea why I needed it, but it seemed like something I shouldn’t leave out. As I was munching on my freshly baked cookies, I did some research. 

I learned that cream of tartar (tartaric acid) is what separates snickerdoodles from sugar cookies. Being an acid, it reacts with another ingredient, baking soda, which is a base. You’re probably familiar with how baking soda reacts with vinegar, another type of acid, so you probably know that the two form carbon dioxide gas.

snd1

The carbon dioxide bubbles that form from the cream of tartar and baking soda is what makes snickerdoodles so light and airy. The acidity is also what gives snickerdoodles their classic tang. Unlike sugar cookies, snickerdoodles have no vanilla since that would interfere with the tangy flavor.

I found the following recipe from Betty Crocker. I didn’t change any ingredients, but I did change some of the directions. I also cut the recipe in half and found that half makes about 20 cookies. I suspect it’s not quite two dozen because I kept eating the dough, but it was worth it.

snd2

Snickerdoodles

Ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup sugar (for the coating)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (for the coating)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon for the coating. Set aside.
  4. With an electric mixer, combine butter, shortening, and 1 1/2 cups sugar until well incorporated. Add in the eggs. Once that is all combined, start slowly adding in the flour mixture until a dough just begins to form. Try not to overwork the dough.
  5. Roll dough into 1 1/4 inch balls. Roll balls in the cinnamon sugar and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  6. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until set. Allow the cookies to cool slightly before devouring.

Tip: If you overbake your cookies, they make for excellent dunkers, especially in hot chocolate.

Got leftover cinnamon sugar? Sprinkle it on toast, or use it to make cinnamon sugar popcorn!

Books and Beverages

Books and Beverages (#16)

Since the previous B&B, I’ve started two series, finished another, and continued another. I had a good mix of sci-fi, fantasy, mystery/thriller, and humor. I read about female computer hackers, female assassins, and teaching Neanderthals how to play Scrabble. All the while I enjoyed a secret Frappuccino and discovered a new favorite tea.

Books

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

24390078I read this as an e-book and let me begin by saying that you should definitely read a physical copy instead. This is the first book of The Illuminae Files, and by “files” that means each chapter in the book is some sort of record or email or transcribed audio file of the events. It’s quite different and rather refreshing, but some of the files have small font that my e-book could only enlarge so much. I think I missed out on some of the experience of this book, which is why I advise a physical copy.

It’s a sci-fi novel which takes place in the year 2575. The main characters, Kady and Ezra, have recently broken off their relationship and are not on the best of terms when a megacorporation attacks their planet. They flee with the other survivors on ships, but soon a deadly virus begins mutating and turning passengers into zombie-like creatures. Then the AI controlling the ship starts to go haywire. Kady starts hacking through the ships’ databases to figure out what’s going on and realizes that Ezra might be able to shed some light on things.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson

6892870This is the final book of Millenium, and it starts off pretty much immediately after the events of the previous book, The Girl Who Played With Fire. It’s hard to say much without spoiling anything, so I’ll stick mostly to what’s on the book jacket. This novel delves more into the government conspiracy as journalist Mikael Blomkvist continues to dig into Lisbeth Salander’s past. As soon as Lisbeth gets released from the hospital, she’ll be expected to go on trial for three murders she didn’t commit. And she’ll also need to go on trial as a witness for the things Mikael discovered. We learn more about this mysterious man Zala and the conspiracy surrounding him. There is plenty of suspense that will keep you flipping pages.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

23599075It had been awhile since I’d read fantasy, and so I went out in search of a fantasy novel on my to-read list. Several weren’t available to check out on e-book from the library, but Throne of Glass was. It definitely satisfied my fantasy craving. Celaena Sardothien is slaving away in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes when the Crown Prince Dorian comes to fetch her. He offers her freedom, but she must come with him to participate in a competition to become the king’s royal assassin. If she wins, she’ll serve a few years of service after which she will be freed. During the months-long competition, the prince starts showing an interest in her and so does her trainer, Chaol, who is captain of the royal guard and Dorian’s best friend. But soon, Celaena has other problems – competitors start showing up dead. Celaena starts investigating, trying to figure out who the killer is, only to learn a dark secret and realize her true destiny.

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams

6064941This semester has been really tough, and a bit of humor helped to lift my spirits. This is the second book in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and it was just as absurd and full of improbable events as the first. Zaphod Beeblebrox, Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect, Trillian, and Marvin the depressed android are on their way to Milliways, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, when they’re attacked by the Vogons. They escape and Zaphod finds himself on a search for a man named Zarniwoop, who insists they must find the ruler of the universe. Well, Zaphod isn’t interested in the ruler of the universe, but rather in finding something to eat, and so they escape from Zarniwoop and go to the nearest restaurant. After their meal, Zaphod decides he wants a new spaceship, so they steal one from the parking lot. You can bet that some more absurd adventures ensue after that, but I think that’s all I can say without giving too much away.

Beverages

Twix Frappuccino

While everyone freaks out about the Unicorn Frappuccino, I decided to try a secret menu item – the Twix Frappuccino. You probably guessed it’s inspired by the candy bar. It’s a caramel Frappuccino with hazelnut syrup, java chips, caramel drizzle down the sides and topped with whipped cream and more caramel sauce and mocha sauce on top. It’s not too sweet, nor does it taste like sour milk. (And the best part is you don’t have to worry if it’s made with unicorn blood!)

Good Earth Sweet and Spicy Tea

This is some good tea, man. It reminds me a lot of the Pike Place Market Spice tea, but the Good Earth tea is caffeine free. And every tea bag tag has a little inspirational quote on it, which is cute! Basically, it tastes just as its name suggests, it’s sweet, not bitter, and it’s got some spice in it that smells wonderful!

Bonus Blog

Eowyn Challenge Update

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

I made it to Rivendell! And I met my goal to get there by the end of 2016. The next leg of the journey will take me to Lothlorien, and I’m planning on traveling those 462 miles by the end of 2017. I’m already 120 miles there!

Dat View Doe
This view took my breath away! (Or was that from running up the hill to see it?)

If you’re not familiar with the Eowyn Challenge, it was created over a decade ago around the time when the LOTR trilogy was in theaters. Essentially, it’s meant to motivate people to get out and exercise in some form that can be tracked by distance (i.e. running, walking, hiking, biking, swimming).

Last year, I hardly did any running, but I still made it to Rivendell with a few days to spare. I accumulated a lot of miles by just walking around campus going to class. This year I’ve already done more running than I did in all of 2016! Fingers crossed that I might make it to Lothlorien well before December 31.

I’m trying to take running a little less seriously than I did last year because I think that was the majority of the problem. Last year I kept trying to increase mileage and quickly came to the conclusion that I simply didn’t have time to run. This year, I’m trying to tell myself that even if I get out there and run for 15-20 minutes, it’s better than not running at all. And let’s be real, starting out with 15-20 minutes every few days sounds a lot more manageable than starting with 5-6 miles a week.

IMG_20170410_190824_516

And to reiterate Bilbo’s advice, it is a dangerous business. Especially when you realize that Starbucks isn’t that far away and the idea of a literal Starbucks run pops into your head. Let me tell you if you can end your run with Starbucks, you will be amazed at how fast you can run. I do believe this will be quite dangerous for my wallet.

Baking

Panko Baked Cod

pbc1

Panko is a Japanese-style breadcrumb that is coarser than traditional breadcrumbs. In Japanese, it is written as パン粉, which can be broken down into パン (pan) meaning bread, and 粉 (ko) meaning flour or powder. The proper pronunciation is PAWN-koh, unlike the “PAIN-koh” I hear a lot of celebrity chefs say. Just remember, panko is painless.

05004
This is a picture of PAWN-koh.

(If you went around Japan saying “PAIN-koh,” you could be mistaken for saying ペン子, which is broken down into ペン (pen) meaning pen, like the writing utensil, and 子 (ko) which means child and is also a common suffix for girls’ names. Basically, you’d be nicknaming your pen when you want to be talking about breadcrumbs. You probably don’t want to do that.)

 

 

NewellRubbermaid_1904840_jttr_imgps_20
This is a picture of PAIN-koh.

Panko is widely available at most supermarkets and grocery stores, either in the baking aisle or Asian foods aisle.

 

Regardless of how you pronounce it, however, this panko baked cod recipe is really simple with only a few ingredients. I don’t dredge or do anything fancy (or messy), but I’m sure it’d taste great if you did. I like to keep things simple and make as little mess in the kitchen as possible.

 

pbc2
Mmm… Flaky and delicious.

 

There are undoubtedly countless ways to dress this up a little if you were going to serve it to guests, but this recipe is just the bare basics for a nice dinner at home with just a little effort! It makes two servings, so feel free to scale it up if necessary.

 

pbc3
I made this along with some pasta mix from a box and some sauteed zucchini and yellow squash. Really yummy and simple!

 

 

(Painless) Panko Baked Cod

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb of cod (or other mild-flavored fish such as pollock)
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 3/4 tsp lemon pepper seasoning
  • Cooking spray

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F and prepare a 13″ x 9″ baking pan with cooking spray. Rinse your fish in cold water to get rid of any scales or pieces of skin that may be hanging around. Set aside.
  2. In a gallon-size bag, combine the panko and lemon pepper. Add fish to bag and shake until coated.
  3. Place breaded fish in the baking pan and cover with any remaining bread crumbs.
  4. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until fish is flaky.
  5. Serve with your favorite sides and enjoy!