Sunday, November 30, 2008

Peanut Butter Brownie Squares

Inspired by a photo I saw on the chocolate peanut butter gallery, I attempted my own version tonight:

Step 1. Make a graham cracker crust.

I actually ran out of graham crackers due to the recent Thanksgiving Day run on pumpkin pies, and substituted oatmeal biscuits instead. In a food processor, crumb biscuits with half a stick of melted butter. Add nuts or oatmeal if you want to seem slightly healthier. Bake in oven for approximately 10-15 minutes (or until dry and crispy.)

Step 2. Melt peanut butter.

FYI: Real, wholesome, organic peanut butter that you store in the fridge DOES NOT melt in the microwave. I learned this first hand - it tends to burn. Instead use Jiff or some other artificially sweetened variety that melts easily. Pour melted peanut butter over the crust.

Step 3. Mix up your favorite brownie mix - any recipe will do. Pour batter over melted peanut butter and bake as usual.

Let the brownies cool a bit before you slice them (as this can get messy otherwise.)



Thursday, November 27, 2008

Chocolate-Cinnamon Babka

After one prior attempt at making a chocolate babka (mine turned out like a challah bread with chocolate chips), I asked an expert. I followed this recipe and ended up with the most fabulously delicious chocolate babka I have ever had:


For The Babka Dough:
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons active dry yeast

For The Cinnamon Filling:
1/2 stick (2oz.) butter, melted
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

For The Chocolate Filling:
2 oz. bittersweet chocolat
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 stick (2 oz.) unsalted butter
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons rum

For Meringue:
2 egg whites
1/4 cup granulated sugar

For Egg Wash: (optional)
1 egg yolk, or egg white, beaten
1/4 cup milk, or water

Combine the flour, the sugar, the salt, and the yeast in a large mixing bowl, set aside.

Heat the oil and milk in a small pan until very warm, and pour over mixed dry ingredients.

With an electric mixer, blend at low speed until moistened. Add eggs, and beat on medium speed for 3 minutes.

Transfer dough to a floured surface. Knead dough until smooth and elastic, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Place dough in a greased bowl, turn greased side up, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until light and doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

Place dough on a floured surface, divide in half, and roll out each half to a 10 by 18 inch rectangle, and 1/4 inch in thickness.

For The Cinnamon Filling:
Spread each dough section with half of the melted butter or margarine. Combine sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over each dough section.

For The Chocolate Filling:
On a low simmer, melt chocolate in top of a double boiler, stir in sugar, butter or margarine, and milk. Cook over very low heat, stirring constantly for 15 minutes. Stir in vanilla extract and rum, chill in refrigerator.

For the Meringue:
Beat egg whites with the 1/4 cup sugar until stiff but not dry. Spread each dough section with 1/4 of the meringue, and 1/2 of the chilled chocolate filling, top with the remaining half of the meringue.

Roll up rolls of filled dough, jelly-roll style, starting at the long end. Braid rolls together to form a twist and place in a greased 9 or 10-inch bundt or tube pan, seal edges together and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until almost doubled in size, about 1 hour or so.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C), or 325 degrees F (170 C) if you are using bakeware with a dark, nonstick or colored exterior.

Brush dough with egg wash, and place the bundt or tube pan with babka in it in pre-heated oven and bake it for about 50 minutes or until the aroma becomes irresistible and the babka is golden brown.

After baking, remove the babka from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes. Take it out of the pan and place it on a wire rack. Let it cool completely before serving. Dust top of babka with confectioner's sugar,



Image lifted from

Thursday, November 20, 2008


While browsing through the latest edition of N.E.E.T. magazine, I came across these fabulous finds:

The Illiyon dress from Leanimal by Leanne Marshall. Now that she's won Project Runway, I'll never be able to afford her gorgeous clothes!

A Silhouette Necklace by Early Jewelry. Kitchy-cute and kind of funky!

Chainmail jewelry by Crescent Maille.

Tough Lolita Hooks by Poison Apple. Sweet and sparkly in a dangerous sort of way. I love the little silver skulls and I'm obsessed with those little metal bows.

Vintage treasures by This Charming Girl. So fun to browse!

A Shimmer Dress at Candy Store Collective. If only I had a real job I might be able to afford some of these clothes!

...and there's plenty more where that came from!


Images lifted from,, and

"Single Ladies" SNL skit disappears

Sadly, the most entertaining version of Beyonce's Single Ladies dance routine is no longer available on YouTube. If you weren't lucky enough to see it on SNL or on the web, read about it here.

And yes, that's JT in a spandex leotard. You should see that boy shake it!

Image lifted from

Beyonce: Single Ladies

Same moves - in spandex leotards. Now that takes balls:

Gwen Verdon: Mexican Breakfast Fosse

Check out the flashy matching 1960's costumes on these foxy ladies:

Engage Green

Check out these bags made of recycled materials!

[Engage Green]

I am especially drawn to the woven "paper" product line. If I weren't so broke I might consider investing in one of my own!


Image lifted from the green globetrotter. Check out her blog for more tips and ideas on traveling green!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Seven Up

One of the more hilarious and fascinating shows I've watched lately is the British documentary, Up series.

"The Up Series consists of a series of documentary films that have followed the lives of fourteen British children since 1964, when they were seven years old. The children were selected to represent the range of socio-economic backgrounds in Britain at that time, with the explicit assumption that each child's social class predetermines their future. Every seven years, the director, Michael Apted, films new material from as many of the fourteen as he can get to participate. The latest film, 49 Up, was released in September 2005; filming for the next instalment in the series, 56 Up, is expected in late 2011 or early 2012."

My all-time favorite character is Bruce. Even at the young age of seven he was concerned about the lives of other people. He said his heart's "greatest desire" was to see his father (who was living in Rhodesia.) Unfortunately, I couldn't find a clip of him talking about what he wanted to do when he grew up. Trust me, it's HILARIOUS. However, I did find a good clip of another classic moment (the interviewer just asked Paul whether or not he'd like to get married someday):

If you haven't got time to watch them all, at least see the first episode, shot in 1964. The kids are super-cute and then you'll be hooked.


Saturday, November 15, 2008


Who says fashion is boring?


"Fantasia, by its strictest definition, is a musical term: describing free improvisation and contrast of musical treatments that seldom follow textbook rules. Appropriate then that the same word should be the title of Nick Knight's latest fashion film: a free-wheeling exploration of joyous, unbridled movement in model and clothing alike. Harness to this the riotous creativity of some of fashion's greatest names and you have a mesmerising, full-throttle trip around the most sensational sartorial propositions of the past ten years. Worked to their fullest extent by the dynamic duo of Lily Donaldson and Jourdan Dunn, the array of outfits on show are a fashion fantasy - in the very truest sense of the term."


Images lifted from

Montreal French Fries

If there's one thing I love about Quebec (and it might only be one thing), it's the Poutine - the perfect comfort food. There is nothing else quite like it.

Canadian transplant, Gino, decided to open up shop in Massachusetts. So now, instead of driving north for four hours, one can drive south to Bridgewater, MA for some fabulous Montreal French Fries.

"What is a Montreal French Fry? The potatoes for Montreal French Fries are imported from either Quebec or New Brunswick. The fries are then hand cut and fried twice in peanut oil. The result is a french fry that is a cut above any other french fry that you've ever tasted!"



Montreal French Fries
757 West Center St (Rt. 24, Exit 16B)
West Bridgewater, MA
(508) 588-FRIES (3743)

Image lifted from

Design Hive

Although I'm really not a fan of Fox News in any sense, there might be some redeeming value:

Design Hive was featured this past Tuesday on Fox!

"The Design Hive is a rotating collective retail experience featuring different designers every week. It's a great alternative to mass-produced, mass-consumed goods and it's way more hip."

I, for one, am really looking forward to checking this place out! My good friend, pequitobun, will be there today and next Saturday as well. There will also be around 50 other independent designers selling their wares at Design Hive for the next 6 Saturdays! Find everything from clothing and jewelry, to handbags, housewares and art!

Happy Shopping!


The Design Hive is within walking distance of both Harvard and Porter Squares in Cambridge.

Maria Baldwin School (formerly the Agassiz School)
28 Sacramento St. (off Mass Ave. @ corner of Oxford St.)
Cambridge, MA 02138

Image lifted from

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Imasu by Kelly Nishimoto

Check out REVOLVE for some fantastic clothes and other goods!

I particularly love this unique coat by Imasu:

"At the age of 19, Georgia-native Kelly Nishimoto was named one of the "Top Ten Designers to Watch" by the Miami Herald. Always one to use a variety of materials in her designs, Nishimoto has gone from styling with Reynolds Wrap to designing innovative corsets for celebs like Tori Spelling, Jenny McCarthy, and even Dave Navarro. The designer introduced her full collection of feminine pieces during the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in 2006 and continues to bring originality and elegance to her line of womenswear each season."

Too bad I can only afford to window-browse...


Image lifted from

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Don't bother with those boring chain sandwiches - stop by Chacarero for a true Chilean lunch!

If only I worked downtown...


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Adopt a Turkey

Every year for Thanksgiving I am faced with the challenge of making an edible alternative to the traditional Turkey dinner. Last year I tried roasting an entire pumpkin stuffed with root vegetables. Sadly, the roasting time was off and the pumpkin (and stuffing) turned out hard, flavorless and far less appealing than the succulent poultry beast sitting next to it.

This year, I came across a novel idea (for a meat-eater at least). For a mere $25 adoption fee, one can ADOPT A TURKEY and save it from the frightening prospect of becoming someone's Thanksgiving meal.

There are two ways to adapt a Turkey:

1. Sponsor "adopt" a turkey who lives at Watkins Glen, New York or Orland, California shelter for farm animals. For a one-time $25 adoption fee, you will receive:

A special Adopt-A-Turkey certificate with color photo of and fun details about your new friend
- A Farm Sanctuary membership for one year,
- A one-year subscription to Sanctuary, our quarterly newsletter.
- As a turkey sponsor, you will not only contribute funds for the care of the rescued animals at our sanctuaries, but will also help us educate and advocate for turkeys, and other farm animals, everywhere.

Adopt a turkey online or by phone at 1-888-SPONSOR.

2. Home adopt and provide a safe, permanent and loving home for two or more turkeys.

Home adopters must be vegetarian and committed to providing lifelong care for their turkey friends. Individuals interested in home adoption must complete an adoption application. Turkey companions are personally delivered to approved adopters by Farm Sanctuary staff via the Turkey Express.

Option two I find quite intriguing. Apparently Turkey's require companionship and thus individuals who wish to home adopt must agree to provide a "safe and loving" home for at least two Turkeys. Which leads me to my next question:

Can one eat Turkey eggs?

As it turns out, Turkey eggs are edible. However, it is unclear from the website whether or not adoption includes a breeding pair.


Photo lifted from

Amish Friendship Bread

About 10 days ago, I received a 1-gallon plastic ziplock bag of liquid "starter" and a recipe for Amish Friendship Bread.

Having never heard of such a thing, I found the process of making the bread very intriguing! Not unlike a chain letter, Amish Friendship Bread is passed around to friends. The sweet, cinnamon-flavored bread probably has no connection to the Amish people (typical recipes include a box of instant pudding!) According to Elizabeth Coblentz, a member of the Old Order Amish and the author of the syndicated column "The Amish Cook", true Amish Friendship Bread is "just sourdough bread that is passed around to the sick and needy". I'll admit, I'm not sick or needy, but I do appreciate a loaf of homemade bread!

Amish Friendship Bread

Important Note: Do not use metal spoons or equipment. Use only glazed ceramic or plastic bowls or containers.

1 cup live yeast starter

day 1:
Do nothing with the starter.

days 2-5:
Squeeze the plastic bag.

day 6:
Add 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup milk. Squeeze the bag.

days 7-9:
Squeeze the bag.

Day 10:
Add 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk. Stir. Take out 3 cups and place 1 cup each into three separate plastic 1-gallon bags. Give one cup and a copy of this recipe to three friends (or keep one for yourself if you want to make more bread.) To the remaining batter, add the following ingredients and mix well.

1 cup oil (or 1/2 cup applesauce and 1/2 cup oil)
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 - (5.1 oz) box instant vanilla pudding
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup nuts (optional)

Mix and pour into two well greased and sugared bread pans. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour.

Enjoy and pass it on!


Image lifted from

Tuesday, November 4, 2008