Thursday, March 15, 2012

Cookies topped with other cookies

Not in a sandwich cookie way, either.

I was recently introduce to Biscoff Spread. It's essentially ground up Biscoff cookies, pureed into a peanut butter-like paste. It looks like gooey peanut butter, but it tastes amazing- like cinnamon-y nilla wafers. Or, it tastes like a paste made out of Biscoff cookies, but I'd never had those before.

We enjoyed biscoff on nilla wafers, pretzels and a spoon. It was good. This was at M's house, so of course once I got home, and was getting ready to have a few people over, I had to go out and buy Biscoff Spread for myself. You can find it with the peanut butter, and it's a little pricey, about the same as Nutella (although I lucked out and Nutella was on special this week! woohoo!). I branched out a bit and tried it on granny smith apples, and discovered it's quite delicious on bananas. Biscoff is good stuff- not the healthiest snack ever, but I like to think eating it on fruit almost cancels it out- or makes a better dessert choice.

It just so happened that at the same time as the Biscoff Discovery, I was looking for a good cookie recipe. I had some self-imposed restrictions which were making the search a little tough. No chocolate, not oatmeal, I was sick of sugar cookies, I'd just made peanut butter nutella cookies and wanted something different.... well, I found a snickerdoodle recipe. Sounds good. But there was a second part...

Snickerdoodle cookie sandwiches with Biscoff Frosting. Oh my.

recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups flour
2t baking powder
1/2t salt
2T sugar
2t cinnamon

Cream together butter and sugar and beat til fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt, then stir into the butter mixture.

Whisk together the 2T sugar and cinnamon. Form dough into tablespoon-sized balls, roll in the cinnamon sugar, then place on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350F for 10-15 minutes (original said 8-10, I needed 15min), until they just turn golden brown.

FINALLY, I have found a good snickerdoodle recipe. They have the perfect snickerdoodley, cinnamony, eggy flavor that I love, and are nice and chewy. Mr Snickerdoodle Expert over here says they're better than the last recipe I tried, but they're supposed to be flatter. Yeah whatever. I'll smoosh them down before I bake them next time. But whatever he says, I think these are absolutely great. But there is a next step...

Biscoff Frosting
3T butter, softened
1/2 cup Biscoff Spread
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2T cinnamon
2-3T milk

Beat together butter and biscoff, then beat in sugar and cinnamon. It'll get crumbly, then add in the milk, tablespoon by tablespoon, beating sufficiently after each addition, until it's fluffy. (I only needed 2T).

Spread the cookie spread frosting ON the cookies. Whoa! They were supposed to be cookie sandwiches, but I was trying to save on the calories and just used one cookie with frosting on top.

But then, my friends, I got a little crazy. I had to go to the grocery store for milk yesterday, and I was on the hunt for Lilly Pulitzer animal crackers (none at the Mayfield St Big Y, which I expected). I did, however, find Biscoff Cookies- the stuff the spread is made from! I had to get them. The package says "Europe's Favorite Cookie with Coffee". I haven't yet tried them with coffee, but they're pretty darn good with tea!

We're running out of snickerdoodles by now... but we still have a lot of the Biscoff frosting left. So I kind of went to town with the Biscoff.

Biscoff Frosting on Biscoff Cookies. And I ate it too quickly to photograph it, but I also put Biscoff Spread (straight from the jar) on the Biscoff Cookies.

Cookies topped with spreads made from cookies... it's the ambrosia of baked goods.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Happy Pi Day!

First of all, in case you didn't know, we're kind of nerdy in our household. Clint's a computer guy, I'm a biochemist. He goes on and on about computer stuff and coding and scheduling, and I get all excited by protein-protein interactions and diagrams of such. In the grand scheme of things, that's pretty nerdy.

And we both have an intense love of pie. Apple pie, blueberry pie, chicken pot pie, lemon meringue pie... we love it all.

So it's not surprising that we both freaked out for awesomeness when we saw this picture

First of all, HOW DID WE NEVER NOTICE THIS BEFORE?!? I love this, I'm still laughing over it now, a day after I first saw it.

So in our extreme nerdiness and love of food, we had pie for pi day. I always intend to make pie for pi day, but in the past it's just never happened. So this year I made up for lost time with three pies.
Chicken pot pie with biscuit crust (blogged previously here), apple pie and blueberry pie.

This chicken pie is one of my new favorite dinner recipes. This may be its last hurrah before fall returns, because it's great for a chilly night. It's the perfect way to use up leftover chicken- a week ago, I boiled up 2 split breasts and 4 bone-in thighs to make chicken stock. We made pizza and tacos with the chicken, but still had quite a bit left, so I tossed it all in here. And used the chicken stock for the gravy!

I don't use recipes for my fruit pies. It always causes a little trouble when people ask for a pie recipe- honestly all a fruit pie is is pie crust lining a pie dish, filled with your choice of fruit tossed with some sugar and spices of your choice, and baked. If you're using wet fruit (like frozen berries with a lot of ice crystals on them, or fresh peaches), I also toss the fruit in flour or cornstarch to soak up the liquid. I like tossing apples with cinnamon and cardamom, and blueberries with allspice.

The one exception to my "no recipe" pie rule is my infamous Lime-Peach Pie. The pie I worked so hard on, combining the delicious flavors of fresh peaches and fresh limes, inspired by a peach margarita... and when I entered it in the Cornish Fair, the judges ruled that it had "overwhelming citrus flavor". Which was the WHOLE POINT OF THE PIE. But I'm not bitter- more pie for me!

Did you enjoy pie for pi day?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Jeans, and how I deal with them.

Many people say they hate bathing suit shopping. I don't. I never really have. I'm far from happy with my figure, but over the years I've been lucky to find two brands of bathing suits that always have at least one style that works on me- Lilly (duh) and J Crew. I've gotten to the point where I can even order online. It's a big relief.

But one thing that's just impossible to fit is jeans. Pants are ok, it's something about the denim or the rivets or the seaming... I don't know, but jeans are awful to shop for.

I think this is fairly common. I mean, that's why there are so many different fits of jeans. Curvy fit, straight fit, relaxed fit, boyfriend fit, skinny, slim, petite, cropped, long, flared, bootcut... oy. I've tried on all of it. I got to the point where I found a pair of jeans that fit, and I bought 3 pairs. Then I went through a phase where I bought 2 sizes. Then I saw that sometimes sizing up makes them wearable, but I might have to belt them. All of this worked for a while, but of course when they started to wear out, I went to get more, only to discover they no longer make that style, or anything close to it. Ugh!

When I try on a pair of jeans, if I get my normal pants size, the waist/butt fits perfectly, but the legs are so tight I can hardly pull them up. If I size up, the legs are perfect but the waist is huge. If I try on anything flared, that scenario is more exaggerated. If I try on skinny jeans... well, it's the opposite, sizing up makes the waist fit nicely but the legs are weird and baggy. It makes no sense!!!

Over the summer I found a pair of really cute new without tags size 12 Lilly jeans on ebay, they were misspelled so not very easy to find, but I found them, and I got them for $29.99. They have adorable pink and green stitching on the back pockets, and they were kind of a consolation for a pair of size 8 jeans I bought at Nordstrom Rack a few years ago, completely forgot about while I was that size, and then had no hope of fitting into again. Well, like I said, lately I size up in jeans, and these were that up. They arrived, they're lovely- they look completely brand new, they're that good bootcut fit that I love from the pre-skinny jeans days. They fit perfectly through the leg.... but the waist was enormous. We're talking Jenny Craig commercial enormous (ok I exaggerate, but it felt like that!) There was no way I could wear them. So sad!

So I tucked them away while I tried to decide whether or not to sell them.

A few weeks ago, I went through a big closet purge- wear it or sell it, that's my motto now. I found these jeans again, tried them on, but I just couldn't bear to list them. Legs fit and look great, but the waist is too big to actually wear them, just walking around the house makes them fall down.Aren't they cute?

And then came my brilliant idea.

If you have a skirt that's just a tiny bit too big, how do you alter it? Take in the seams a bit. Easy peasy, just one seam on each side. Why not try that on a pair of jeans? The only obvious issue is the super thick denim.

I made a seam on each side, first about a 1/4inch in on each side, reducing the waist measurement by 1 inch (the pink seam), and then it was still too big, so I made a seam another 1/4inch in, reducing the waist measurement by 2 inches (the green seam). I stitched over the existing seam again, just to reinforce it.

The seams are kind of hard to see in these photos. This isn't a fool-proof fix, however, because pulling jeans on and off puts a lot of stress on this area and these seams, which is why I sewed again over the innermost seam. You'll probably need to resew them after a handful of wears. I had to urge my sewing machine along by turning the wheel thing with my hand, when the motor fought the foot pedal, but that's the same as when I sew something that has 6 or more layers of fabric, and other than that, sewing these seams takes just a minute and is very easy and straightforward.

Here's how the jeans look after the seaming. You can see the little indents on each side from the added seams. Honestly, the first time I put these jeans on those indents felt a little odd, but by now, after wearing them a handful of times, I don't notice it.
Over the weekend, I was going out with the girls, and the pub we chose is fairly casual, so I wanted to wear jeans- but what jeans? I found a pair of trouser-style jeans from White House Black Market (the only item I own from there, sadly), but these were a pair I bought after I decided I needed to size up in jeans- I tried on the 12s, too big. So the 10s: roomy, but there's no way I can still be an 8, I was sure of it. So I bought the 10s, and wouldn't you know, too big. The wide legs make the legs look fine, but they were another pair I had to belt. Well, on Sunday afternoon, the light bulb went on, and I sewed these up too. I'm wearing them as I type, so I can't show you any photos at the moment. I didn't have to take these in quite as much, only about a 1/4 inch on each side, and they fit perfectly. I'm so excited, yet another pair of pants available in my closet. :)

So if you have this same problem of baggy waists in your jeans, get out your sewing machine, or go to a friend who can let you borrow it for 5 minutes. It's such a quick and easy fix, and might open up a whole other section of your wardrobe. Also, it's a great way to salvage your old pants after losing a little weight- but I wouldn't suggest trying this to reduce the waist measurement by more than 2-3 inches.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Spring is in the air, part 3!

And I'll probably need a part 4, too. E.A. Davis has a LOT of spring in stock! They were unpacking a lot of it so I think even by today there are many more styles there.

Last Friday I had a meeting in CT, and afterwards I really felt that I needed some retail therapy. Yet, still being unemployed, retail therapy has to mean only trying on clothes (although I admit, I did buy a roll of Do the Wave wrapping paper. For my etsy shop! "Business expense"! I'll get some cupcake wrappers in that and I have a fab new item idea but I'm having trouble finding of the materials. I think I need to be brave and visit Home Depot.) I took the very long drive from north-central CT over to Wellesley. It was a long drive. I stopped at Marshalls and bought a bag of caramel corn... which I promptly devoured before I got home. Well hey, that was my lunch and snack. Fortunately, there was no traffic getting to Wellesley. (totally different story for getting home from Wellesley... Note to self: don't leave Wellesley or anywhere around Boston at 5pm on a Friday)

This wasn't such a successful trip, I really only liked one new thing, and improved my opinion on another. I also tried different sizes of the one thing I truly plan to buy, so that I can purchase online if a sale pops up sometime in the next 3 months (I'd like to get this for my birthday in June!). And I was a little tired when I got there, so I only had one round of trying on.

First up, the Cherry Dress. (In Prep Green Twinkle, for $268)
I really like this print. I'm not entirely sure it's the right green for my complexion, but it might have just been the dressing room lighting. This is a size L and fits comfortably, so I think fits true to size. I think the cut is pretty flattering, but the flutter sleeves aren't for me. I think this would be a great, easy dress to throw on in a hurry and still look lovely. I wish it were about $100 less, though! It seems awfully expensive for what it is- even though I think it's the same fabric as the Blanca and Blayneys, it doesn't feel as nice as those.

The Carolyn, in Shorely Blue Lavish Lillys, for $118.
This is super cute!! I'm in a L and it's roomy but not overly so. It's a good length for 5'6-me, and for the low, Cassie-like price, this is definitely an adorable dress to throw in on a hurry. I feel that the cut is far better than the Cassie, more fitted and less smock-like. The ruffled button placket is super cute. Unfortunately, I'm not such a collar person, so I probably won't get this... if only it had more of a nehru collar or a neckline like an Elsa! But the body of the dress is splendid, and I approve of the cute little ruffles on the sleeves.

The Ferra, in Call Me Kitty, for $198.
Sorry for the blurry picture, I had a horrible time getting a decent picture of this one. Why, you ask? Well, this is a size 12, but I couldn't zip it past the waist. My arm is clutching the dress to me so that it doesn't fall down. Not cool! This fit about as poorly as the Franco, although at least the bottom half looks fine. It comes in a 14, but the store didn't have one (actually, now that I think of it, the largest size I've seen there in my spring visits is a 12! Hmm, that's not good.) Other than running very small, this dress is very cute, but it's a little short on my 5'6 frame. So sad! I love this print. It's very me, since some people call me Cat, and I do love cats. The only other possibility this print comes in is the Delia, so that's on my list for my next visit.

Amberley, in Prep Green Twinkle, for $228.

I'm not sharing a picture of me in this because it was worse than the Ferra. It basically had the same problems in fit and length, but without the pretty bodice to save it. Very sad. Size up, size up! The 12s in both of these seriously had about 5 inches of space between the sides of the zipper. That's ridiculous!

Let's get back to something cute.
The Parker, in Lagoon Green Birds and Bees, $228

This is very cute! Fits a tiny bit snugly, it was tough to zip up at the bust but fits more or less comfortably. I wouldn't size up, but I might wear spanx or a different bra. I thought this was cut pretty well for me. The skirt's a little more poofy than I need, but really this fit the way I'd hoped Eryn would. The straps were too long, but that's normal for me, and the V-neck is flattering without being too low (I'm wearing the same Not Just Fringe necklace as in my last trip- convenient coincidence!). I probably won't get it, but I may look for it when spring goes on sale!
(I just remembered- this fits like the Chichi! Which I adore. Poofier skirt and has that cute rosette at the waist, but otherwise like the Chichi! No wonder I liked it.)

Here's my favorite from the day:
Adeline in White Sweet Daisy Eyelet, $228
This is a little snug. That day it felt like maybe I should have tried a 14 (but again, not in stock! geez) but looking at this picture it looks ok. Maybe I just need spanx? The bust was tight, but the way it's cut you can just spill out a little to relieve the tightness, which I'm doing here so it doesn't look crazy. It's pretty low cut, and you can see the edge of my demi bra, so I'd need to rethink undergarments for this. But the best thing is that I looked much better than the model in this-hahahaha!! I may be a little chubby, but I'm not awkward! This is a possibility for paging, although I'm not sure if it's too low-cut. Chichi is a little low and that's been fine, so maybe this would be ok.

Now, they had a few things on sale- a few. The Valentine's murfee for 50% off (SO tempting!!!!! But I left it there), a couple Minnies dresses in the Valentine's print, and the Estelle Love sweater.
Which, fortunately, I didn't really love. I mean, it's ok, it's not bad, but I just didn't LOVE it. So I was glad, because I had wanted it and was sad I couldn't get it, and now I can't afford it. So that worked out well.

I also revisited Joycee. You may remember in my last spring post that I didn't much care for the Reef Me Up Joycee. The shoulders were weirdly tight.

Well, today I tried on a larger size.
Scorpion Bowl Joycee, size L.
Size L feels good. It's roomy (quite roomy) but the shoulders feel right. So I tried on the same thing in M.
....fits well. A little roomy, but not too roomy, and the shoulders feel... right. Really?

Don't you feel like I'm wearing the same top in both pictures? I'm not. The first really is L, the second really is M. Let's revisit the M Reef Me Up.
it's hard to tell in this picture, and it's hard to say if the shoulders were super tight in this simply compared to the awesome Via I'd been wearing for all the bottoms I tried on, or if they really were tight. I didn't grab a Via this time to study that aspect.

But I dunno. I guess I conclude that I can wear EITHER M or L in Joycee. Just like in the Bidi tank, either M or L fits. Somehow that just doesn't seem right.

But at least it widens the possibilities for shopping sales!

Speaking of sizing oddities, I didn't photograph the Mariana this time, but I tried on SOM in 10 and 12. Remember I tried on Bloomin Cacoonin in 10 and 12, and decided I preferred 10, but SOM I only grabbed as 12 and thought it fit right? Well, without a doubt, the Mariana in SOM size 10 is TOO SMALL. I need a 12 in SOM. But I need... a 10 in Bloomin' Cacoonin'? This is just too confusing! Dresses should not vary in size in the same season! Last year's Adelson can fit different than this year's, or my 2010 Shell We Dance Blayney can fit completely differently (I need M) than this year's Starry Blue Drama Queen Blayney (size L is a tad snug), but things can't vary in the same season! Step it up, Lilly.

But Lilly, remember that I love you, even with all your peculiarities. After all, it gives me a great excuse for this fake retail therapy afternoons :)