gimme the keys

I dreamt I was an amazing painter.  Last night, circa 12am, I threw paint on the canvas and things beyond my imagination (and much, much beyond my skill level) appeared: blooming flowers, bursting sunrises, and close friends.  When the painting was finished, I flew (wings and all) to a vineyard in Tuscany for some vino with my sister, Caitlin.  A pretty awesome dream, right?
The funny thing is how dream-like things kept occurring throughout the day.  Jon and I visited the Artisan Parade of Homes, and we pretended to be the Mr. & Mrs. of some of Minneapolis’s finest addresses.  We probably won’t be purchasing any of *those* homes, but we did get business cards from a couple architecture firms 🙂
Last but definitely not least, I made some blackberry cream cheese bites worthy of Top Chef.  I’ve never claimed to be a master in the kitchen, but the sweet treats have me feeling pretty excited about my kitchen skills.

If you’re feeling lazy but need a recipe to impress the masses, try this: put blackberry jam and cream-cheese inside a pillsbury crescent, wrap it up, bake inside a mini muffin tin, and then top with a blackberry.  Voilà!

deceptively delicious

315 entries in Webster’s Dictionary are misspelled.  If the dictionary is misspelling that many words, can you imagine how many words are misspelled in books and blogs and newspapers and birthday cards?

And then I wonder, can something truly be misspelled in the dictionary? I mean, if the dictionary claims a word is spelled b-a-n-a-n-n-a, then maybe we should all follow suit and use the double n?  What do you think?

I suppose this is quite a bit of musing on something not entirely related to what I want to write about today: the battle between deceptively delicious pictures and actually delicious recipes.  Sure, sometimes the final product ends up being as “every-bite-is-heaven” as the photograph, but, every now and again, I feel truly duped.  Am I the only one?

This story begins yesterday when I went to buy I Am Malala for my new book club.  Per usual, I got a little distracted in the book store and found 2 other books I want to read (Orphan Master’s Son and The Circle) and a sweet Valentine’s Day books for my little cousins.
Headed for the checkout, however, I was distracted yet again by a gorgeous cookbook.  I set down my purchases, flipped through the pages, and decided that some oatmeal marshmallow cranberry seed bars would be on my table come nightfall.
Sounds like a good afternoon, right?  Well, well, well.  This where deception comes into play.  Take a good look at the photo above, and now see what I made in the kitchen yesterday:Image
Similar? I think not.  It made me wish I hadn’t been lured into cooking by a pretty picture.  Perhaps I shouldn’t have strayed away from my tried-and-true granola recipe?  I suppose there is a fine balance between making and remaking your favorites (like when you’re sharing) and experimenting in the kitchen.

Anyway, I want to share my good old reliable granola bars here so that you can avoid making similar cookbook mistakes.  The granola bars below are truly as good as they look (if they look terrible then scratch that – they are just simply good).

Good news: they are also easy as pie (is pie easy for you? This is a terrible expression).
Recipe adapted from Good Life Eats:

Granola Cranberry Raisin Bars:
1/3 c chocolate chips
1/3 c raisins
1/3 c craisins
1/3 c walnuts
1 c applesauce
1 c agave
1 tspn ground cinnamon
1 tspn vanilla extract
2½ cups rolled oats

Preheat oven to 325 and grease an 8×8 baking pan.  Mix all ingredients besides chocolate chips in a large bowl.  When the mixture is smooth, fold in the chocolate chips.  Place mixture in bowl and bake for 20 minutes.  When the oats are done baking, place in the freezers for 1 hour.  When the oat mixture is firm, remove from freezer and cut into bars.  Makes 8 delicious bars that you will probably eat all at once.

do you carrot all?

An easy way to find out if your friend ‘carrot alls’ is to ask them to watch your puppy for a weekend.   For some reason, ‘carrot all’ made me think of ‘carrotalls’ – like carrot overalls, and I ended up drawing this picture:

But, dear reader, what we’re here to talk about today is not carrot alls, but thanking people with carrots.  Jon and I are going out of town for my birthday, and I sent my next-door-neighbor a text to see if she would mind puppy sitting for me:

I know, I know, she is the best.  She said presents aren’t necessary, but I disagree 100%.  I figure everyone loves carrot cake, and what could be nicer than carrot cake in a mason jar?  An ‘Eat now or save for later’ sort of thing?  I decided to fancy-it-up a bit and do three layers: caramel,  carrot cake, and homemade cheesecake frosting.

I used a box cake:
Made the cream cheese frosting from scratch:Image
Put caramel bites on the bottom of the jar:
Added the carrot cake:
nd then topped the cake with the homemade cream cheese frosting:ImageImage

Lastly, I gave Kinzie a bath to prepare for her weekend away.  Here is the during and after photo:Image

yolo rolo

Knock knock
Who’s there?
YOLO who?

Laughing? Probably not, but that’s because the joke only works while eating YOLO ROLO cake.  Now, after you make this cake, you can say the joke, and then eat the delicious treat.  YOLO ROLO! Get it?

Okay okay, still maybe not that funny.  I don’t think the Lonely Island rappers meant for me to get comedic with their song, but it makes perfect sense: YOLO, so why not eat chocolate caramel ROLO cake?

The ROLO YOLO cake is easy as 1-2-3: simply prepare the batter for an angel food cake, mix in rolos, and top with chocolate caramel frosting.  Enjoy, and remember: YOLO!