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I haven’t made the cinnamon pull apart bread yet. Somehow, I managed to not be distracted by my kitchen this weekend (I had delicious chilaquiles here instead!). Here I am on a rainy Tuesday, trying to formulate a research question while making butterscotch brownies. This recipe came from my mother, who has been inspiring me with her gardening and kitchen skills for three decades already. Enjoy!

Butterscotch Brownies 

*This recipe is intended for an 8 x 8 pan. I  a) don’t have one and b) am greedy with these brownies so I’ve doubled it for double the deliciousness. Its up to you….

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Measure and set aside:
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
In a saucepan:
Melt 1/4 cup butter

Mmmm melting butter.

While your butter is melting, whisk 1 egg and 1 tsp of vanilla in a separate bowl.

Egg + Vanilla

Stir 1 cup of brown sugar into melted butter until dissolved. Allow to cool slightly, then mix into egg + vanilla mixture. Combine thoroughly with dry ingredients.

Press walnuts into brownie mixture…

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until done through. Be careful not to burn or overcook them – you want these butterscotch brownies to be chewy.

I’m supposed to be writing I will  am write writing a thesis this year. It will be the culmination of a three year dual masters program that I’m looking forward to finishing come June 2013. We’re on a quarter system, and just finished week 5 out of the 10 week quarter. That means, I have 5 weeks remaining to write a thesis prospectus that me and my committee feel good about, while working full time and going to class until 10pm three nights a week. It’s exciting, terrifying, and exhausting all at once. I’m almost surprised to find myself standing and able to make it out of the house to work once Friday rolls around.

The most challenging thing about my crazy schedule is finding the time to go to the gym and cook proper meals. I love to make dinner – I find it sort of meditative. The second most challenging this is my serious problem with procrastination. Last weekend I wasted away making this amazing pull apart pumpkin bread (I had to skip the glaze – the bread was a bit too sweet for me as it was) and this array of roasted gems. Keeping with the pull apart theme, I plan to give this one a try this weekend. I’ll let you know how it goes.

If you finished all your roasted vegetables and you just don’t know what to make next because the rain has washed away all of your brilliant and delicious plans: make a spaghetti squash and top it with a simple marinara. If you’re worried it won’t be substantive enough, add some lentils to your sauce. Somehow, I managed to go through more than two thirds of my life without understanding the wonder that is spaghetti squash. If you don’t love it already, it’s only a matter of time…

Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Marinara

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 t oregano
  • 1 T basil
  • 2 T olive oil
  • Roughly 2 cups diced tomatoes
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup lentils (optional)
  • Salt + Pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Put your squash into the oven whole. Allow it to roast for about 30 minutes or until it feels tender. While your squash is roasting, prepare the sauce. Saute the onion in the olive oil until its translucent. Add the garlic, oregano and basil. Saute another couple of minutes. Add the tomato paste and diced tomatoes. Allow the sauce to simmer. Add salt, pepper and other spices to taste. I’m really informal about tomato sauce – sometimes I add balsamic vinegar or red wine, sometimes chili flakes for a spicy sauce, sometimes a little agave if the tomatoes aren’t sweet. Occasionally a touch of cinnamon. I like to keep it really simple for the spaghetti squash though – its so sweet and hearty on its own, a fresh tasting sauce really balances it out.

If you’re planning to add the lentils, precook them a bit first and then add them to the sauce.

Remove your squash from the oven with hot pads or oven mitts. It should give a little when you pick it up. Cut off the stem end, and then slice it in half. Gently remove the seeds with a fork. Once you’ve removed the seeds use the fork to separate the strands of squash from the skin. I find it helpful to scoop them into a bowl as I go. Toss the strands with a little olive oil and pepper. Serve as you would spaghetti topped with marinara!

Sorry for the lack of photos. What I will share with you is this: tomato paste in a tube! Brilliant, Trader Joe’s. Brilliant!

Image

I have a lot of studying to do today. As a result, I’ve made these cookies, scrubbed the floors and the cupboards, done two loads of laundry and all the dishes, and am about to paint a closet, weed in the backyard and go out on a boat. Before I continue with my epic sunday of procrastination, I need to share this recipe; mostly as a service to myself given that its already ALL. OVER. THE. INTERNET.

This recipe came from the New York Times in 2008 and has been bouncing around since. I read about them last week on Emily’s blog, and Emily heard about them from Kate, who had them when she stayed at her friend Shirley’s house and remembered them years later. I didn’t really need to make cookies today. I made some cookies last week, but I had some cake flour lying around and needed to see for myself what all the fuss was about. These cookies are worth all that fuss.

You will need the following ingredients plus some patience – the dough has to be refrigerated for at least 24 hours for maximum success:

  • 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
  • 1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour (*I didn’t have bread flour and used all purpose and think these came out amazing anyway)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate chips (at least 60% cacao)
  • Sea salt

1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

2. Cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Add chocolate chips.

3. Wrap well with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat. Set aside.

4. Scoop balls of dough roughly the size of a golf ball onto baking sheet (in the original recipe 3 1/2 ounce mounds are called for, others have success with an ice cream  scoop. I just made larger-than-usual balls of dough about the size of a golfball. The trick is to not make small cookies – thats how you get the chewy center and crispy edges).

5. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, about 15 minutes. Allow to rest for about 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Enjoy!