Matcha Almond Cookies

matcha almond cookies // sweetsonian

matcha almond cookies // sweetsonian

I am a creature of habit. If I force myself to do something over and over again, as annoying as it is at first, the task gets easier every day. Part of this process is repeating this statement over and over again, because if I train myself to become a creature of habit, well, perhaps one day it will be true.

On the one hand, I am and have been a creature of habit in the past, but on the other hand, I am incredibly stubborn… and sometimes lazy. Perhaps laziness happens as a result of being a creature of habit — because if I make being lazy a habit, well, then I’m back to square one, right?

When I was a kid, I would lose things. Coloring books and dolls at first, but as I got older, keys, sunglasses, and lip gloss would just get left behind, recklessly abandoned on a daily or a weekly basis. My dad, at one point, had an intervention. I remember his sigh of disgust, as in, are you kidding me, Sarah? You lost something again?

The trick, according to him, was to make sure everything had a place to go. I nodded, but also knew that this was also his way of trying to get me to keep my room clean (saw right through that, Dad). The solution that worked for me, however, was to essentially narrate my entire life in my head. Have you ever done that? Every time I put my keys down, I’d think to myself, I’m putting my keys down on my desk. Or, I’m leaving my sunglasses in my car tray.

It works for things. But there are still habits — like waking up early and eating well. I know that I should do both, but it’s hard to do when you stay up late and agree to go to happy hour four nights in a row. So this is my own personal intervention.

Now that it’s August, it almost seems like summer is wrapping up and we’re going to squeeze in every last drop of warm weather. But like every other summer, I find myself itching for fall. In fact, I replaced a pair of boots in July (re: they were on sale!). 

These cookies were a symbol of lack of control. I made them a couple of weekends ago, when I had a Monday off. So what was two boxes filled with cookies gradually dwindled to one, and by Tuesday, I had eaten an entire box, so I hid them in my purse and handed them over to the coworkers.

This week was the beginning of my detox. My conscious effort to make a habit of not eating half a batch of cookies, and of not spending half of my paycheck on expensive dinners and cocktails. Tomorrow is a new day. But it does feel good, to set a goal and actually get into the habit of sticking to your guns. But the matcha cookies (and a last brunch at one of my favorite spots in DC) were some damn good indulgences, and I do not regret them.

matcha almond cookies // sweetsonian

matcha almond cookies // sweetsonian

matcha almond cookies // sweetsonian

Matcha almond cookies  Continue reading “Matcha Almond Cookies”

Red Velvet Crinkles

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It’s cookie season. The bane of my fitness’s existence (or lack thereof). I’ve probably eaten my weight in these crinkle cookies.

It’s also about that time of year when DC starts freaking ouuuuut about weather. It’s not raining too hard outside, but all of the paranoia has me worried about holiday travel.

I’ve been down that road too many times. After so many missed flight connections between last Christmas and this summer, I’ve already purchased all non-stop flights for the holidays. I refuse to let weather in Cleveland and Chicago and Dallas obstruct my travels.

In the meantime, I’ve been spending a lot of time inside. This weekend, Shaeda and I took an impromptu trip to Winchester, Virginia to visit our favorite thrift shop, as recommended by Sydney Lianne over at the Daybook — we even Tweeted at her and she tweeted back! It tied for the highlight of my day, along with the purchase of a 1970s automatic typewriter ($18) and a vintage mink stole ($65).

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Side note, self portrait. See what I did there?

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Anyway, after a day of driving and thrifting, I spent a glorious Saturday night in a bubble bath with some badly needed episodes of Dexter — my latest Netflix obsession. I also taught myself how to knit. That’s been fun. I desperately need a snood for these frigid bike rides to work.

Clearly, nothing that new has been happening here in DC. If you’re traveling this week, best of luck with the weather! Hope y’all have a lovely Thankgiving with your friends and families.

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Red Velvet Crinkles, derived from Cooking Classy

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 & 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon milk (I use soy)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Lots of red food coloring… I used a few squeezes of red gel
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • ~1 cup powdered sugar for rolling

Helpful tools (with links to the ones I use):

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper (or silpats).
  2. In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt until evenly mixed. Set aside.
  3. Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or an electric mixer, cream the butter and the sugar until it’s light and fluffy — maybe a 3-4 minutes. Add in the eggs, one at a time, and then mix in the vanilla, milk, and food coloring.
  4. I usually switch to the dough hook attachment when I mix flour in — because flour literally gets everywhere when I don’t — and then slowly add the flour to the batter. Once it’s combined, add in your white chocolate chips.
  5. Refrigerate the dough until it’s just slightly firm (I threw the bowl into the freezer for 5 minutes).
  6. Using a 1-tablespoon-ish scoop, spoon dough balls from the bowl into a cup of powdered sugar, coating evenly. Arrange on your baking sheets, a couple of inches apart.
  7. Bake for 13-14 minutes. This made about 30 cookies for me.

Za’atar Cheese Bars

za'atar cheese bars // sweetsonian

za'atar cheese bars // sweetsonian

An excerpt from my past (hold back your chuckle — it’s from livejournal… and super emo):

3 days left in the valley, and I’ll probably be home for one or two days between Sunday and mid-June. And after 3 weeks of intensely monotonous work, an upside-down iceberg of a relationship, and salsa dancing with confusion, I honestly don’t know how much longer I can stand being here. I don’t see much here anymore, let alone have I talked to the majority of you in the past six months. But this friends page is just about the second or third site I click on when I go online, probably alternating with Bank of America.

Seeing a few of the old high school friends at random rendezvous made me miss the ones at college terribly – I think my days of reminiscing and telling high school stories with Cari might finally be over, now that I realize that the people I’ve known for years are finally growing up. I call her and we say things like “I can’t believe I have to see him twice over break,” or “can we go to a party the instant we get home?”

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And then we exchange why either of us made those comments, and then we agree. “I’m sick of the valley.” “The partying is so different now in Sac.” “Let’s go to Chipotle next weekend.” “Fix it, he’s your ride.” “It’s okay, I’ve been stuck in a love triangle for 3 years now.” “Did I call you on New Years?” “He doesn’t know what he’s doing.” “I hope you don’t get into UCLA, because I am going to miss you.”

I normally write when I’m upset. No wonder I stopped writing in Santa Barbara.

Needless to say, my domestic life has wasted away with my data entry job. Nor have I slept much lately, except for this evening – I was supposed to finish some sewing projects and stop by American Apparel. I’ve run out of flat fabric to actually make clothes with, so I’ve been resizing all my thrift-store t-shirts so they fit perfectly. I used to make so many clothes in high school – without patterns, too. Some things come right back after you spend months or years away. But some things still disappear on you, no matter how well you kept in touch or what good friends you are. Sometimes you go through emotions and you write more than you ever could, filling up a notebook or pages and pages of cyberspace. And you don’t even look back on what you write, but you throw that notebook away or ctrl+a+delete, and it’s gone, as if it never even existed.

It’s always interesting to read something you wrote long ago. Sometimes, I look back on my writing from high school and college and think, well, my voice is the same, but I can’t for the life of me remember what some of the emotions were about. Perhaps I was trying a form of subtle obviousness. Who knows? I was barely a freshman in college when I wrote this.

The boy in my life back then was, interestingly enough, living in DC for college, and was obsessed with Arabic before the study even appealed to me. Maybe he planted the seed. But he is as much a completely different person as I am from my eighteen year old self. I imagine he has since grown up, as he is probably a wonderful husband as he was a wonderful confidant to me all those years ago. We had good times — he drove me back to school at the end of my first winter break, and he was as sweet as he was awkward. I definitely have a type.

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za'atar cheese bars // sweetsonian

It’s nice, and sometimes heartbreaking to read about the boys of your youth. But they’ll almost all be considered that someday, right? Exes, first loves, hookups that would have been nice to have worked out. They’re all reflections of our younger, former selves.

Interestingly enough, I came across this post when sifting through the posts marked “draft” in WordPress. I didn’t hate this one. I wrote it 8 months ago.

Things have changed so much since then, I can’t even remember where I drew those emotions from.

These za’atar bars also bring back memories of a younger, former self. One of my best friends in college was my friend Randa, a passionately argumentative and wild twenty-two year old from a long string of equally fierce Palestinian women. When her entire family visited her at UCLA (by way of the East Bay), she’d invite me over for a huge dinner — I’d practice my kindergarten Arabic and they’d fill my plates with food, plate after plate, despite protests of girlish figures and Los Angeles’ year-round bikini season.

She’s since moved to New York and Jordan and Ramallah, but Gchat and Snapchat keep us in check. She brought these home for me once on a trip home to the Bay, and I made her get the recipe from her mother. It was unbearably simple — and I make these for pretty much any potluck. They’re best served hot and crispy, so they’re ideal for office parties where a toaster oven is present.

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Za’atar Cheese Bars

1 package (20-25 sheets) filodough, thawed
4 cups shredded mozzarella — or a 1 lb. bag
2 cups shredded parmesan cheese
2 cups crumbled feta
1 cup za’atar spice mixture
4 eggs, whisked until frothy
1 stick butter, melted

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Brush a 9×13 brownie/cake pan with a layer of melted butter. Layer on a few sheets of filodough, and then brush again with a layer of butter. Use about half of the filodough sheets.

In a mixing bowl, combine the cheeses, za’atar, and eggs. Use your hands to fully incorporate all of the ingredients, and then spread the cheese mixture onto the filodough layer. Use a spatula to spread evenly.

Then, layer a few more filo sheets on top of the cheese. Brush with butter, and repeat with every two sheets until you are out of filodough. If you have any butter left, go ahead and just pour it on top.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the dough is crisp and a golden brown. Remove, and let cool completely before cutting (to give the bars a clean edge). Then, slice with a sharp knife, and reheat in a toaster oven (or a conventional oven) before serving.

 

 

Brownie Saltine Ice Cream Sandwiches

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If you’re regular reader, you’re probably well aware of my obsession with sweet and salty combinations.

I honestly had the most wonderful weekend — these ice cream sandwiches were key, and probably should be part of every weekend for the rest of my life.

On Saturday, a handful of friends and strangers embarked on a river tubing trip. The weekend before, I had made these saltine ice cream bars. Naturally, I avoid them like the plague (especially when I know I’ll be wearing a bathing suit a few days later), so I piled the individually wrapped cracker bars into a ziploc and into a cooler bag. Let’s be real. I didn’t avoid them as much as I should have.

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crackers

I borrowed Kristen’s car for the drive to West Virginia (and Virginia, and Maryland), and with fewer people tied to our bunch of inner tubes than I was expecting, I had way too many ice cream bars left. So after a couple of runs on the river (and a great roll of fisheye film), I did what I do best: I made friends.

There was the belligerent and NSFW-named team of 29 southern Marylanders who were too drunk to understand “does anyone want free homemade ice cream sandwiches?” but there was an awesome group of girls who were waiting for the bus back to the parking lot at the same time. So I did the college thing and walked over with a bag of melting ice cream bars.

How to make friends 101.

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It even escalated to my handing out blog business cards (they’re just the cutest) and one of the girls begging me to cater a bridal shower — why not?

And it even carried through the evening, when I was out to drinks, and complimented a random lady’s super pretty criss-cross backless dress. I’m not exactly sure how it turned into a card exchange, but hey, it’s DC. At least my cards have photos worth salivating over.

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Sunday was spent sleeping in, and eventually just chatting in my living room with the Baltimore friends, which later faded into a spontaneous sailing trip on the Chesapeake Bay. Gotta love being friends with awesome people who know other awesome people. I really couldn’t have asked for a better weekend.

This week, there’s a lot of freelance, and a lot of True Blood. Due to too much flopping in bed this weekend, I didn’t get anything cooked… so we’ll see how I hold up.

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Saltine Brownie Ice Cream Bars, mostly from Lady and Pups

Continue reading “Brownie Saltine Ice Cream Sandwiches”