UNLEASH THE INNER FOUR YEAR OLD (Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles)

IMG_6921So… Has anyone REALLY ever died from eating cookie dough, or is someone out there just trying to damper our hopes and dreams? This is an honest question. I cannot tell you how many spoonful’s, cups, even POUNDS of cookie dough I have consumed in my life, and I’m relatively normal!

This whole salmonella thing (or salmon-In-Ella, as I pronounce it), is it real? TO THE INTERNET!!!

According to the CDC salmonella is estimated “to cause one million illness in the United States, with 19,000 Hospitalizations and 380 deaths.” Oh. Well. What’s my chances that I’ll actually get it… I might take them all for the love of the dough!

In my 24 years I have tried a lot of dough, in 2012 I was on the quest for the perfect low-fat chocolate chip cookie recipe. I strongly believed if the dough tasted good the cookie would come out good. You see, there is one problem with that theory, all cookie dough taste good, and even when it doesn’t taste spectacular it is still not that bad!!!IMG_6926

I strongly believe that cookie dough is the reason that I will never have abs. I can run 8 to 15 miles a day, and come home and “make cookies”, end up eating a good quarter cup of dough and wake up wondering why my weight loss plan is not working. Well, maybe I will add a mile or two to compensate for the doughy desire that I need to fill.

While today’s creation will not help your diet, it will not make you die of Salmonella and that’s a promise! This cookie dough is eggless, super creamy and covered in chocolate, what more could you want? This is the first time I ever made a cookie dough with sweetened condensed milk and I might look into using it more in the future, the dough is super smooth and creamy, what dreams are made of.

If your sweet tooth does not include a love for super sweet, sugary, creamy goodness, do not even bother with this. While it is perfect for the cookie lover, the average Joe of desserts might not find these too amusing. Kids, young adults, and all of my coworkers came begging back for more, and hopefully you will too!

Special Shout out to Zach who submitted this idea!

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles

Have your cake and eat it too with these delectable truffles. Egg free will leave you worry free and quickly floating on a bed of happiness and chocolate. Makes roughly 4 dozen.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condense milk

1 cup mini chocolate chips

2 cups melting wafers for the outer shell (I used a bag of Ghirardelli that I found at Wegman’s)

Toping extras (mini chocolate chips, crushed Oreos, sprinkles, white chocolate)

Directions:IMG_6918

  1. Using a mixer cream together butter and brown sugar, make sure to mix till smooth, no brown sugar clumps!
  2. Add vanilla
  3. Mix in flour 1 cup at a time until incorporated.
  4. Mix in sweetened condense milk until smooth and incorporated with the dough.
  5. Stir in chocolate chips to taste.
  6. Cover bowl and refrigerate until dough hardens, 45 minutes to an hour
  7. Roll cookie dough into 1 inch balls on a wax paper lined cookie sheet (I did not have wax paper, I used parchment paper, a slightly more expensive mistake)
  8. Place the balls in the fridge until the chocolate is melted.
  9. Melt chocolate wafers (microwave, double boiler, I’ll leave this method up to you)
  10. Using a toothpick or knife stick the balls into the chocolate until covered, remove and place on wax paper to dry.
  11. Once dry, keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
  12. Best if eaten within 1-3 days of making.

Blogging with the consistency of a oh look something shiny (White Chocolate Fuggy Brownie)

You take one week off and BOOM, a year flies by. Sorry world, your sweet addiction of Not So Culinary Graduate was halted for a year, an entire freaken year! Well I hope you all did something fun in that time, I know I did… I think.

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MMMM warm white chocolate brownies

I’ve progressed my running career. I’m now a running machine! I’ve ran several half marathons, a bunch of 10 milers, countless 5ks and now I am prepping for the Chicago Marathon in October, HOW COOL IS THAT!??!?!?! If you want to stay updated with my running life please follow me on Instagram @Lauren_Runs_Here.

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Look at that batter

I moved too, that’s cool right!?!?! Not far, just down the road in Pennsylvania from where I was living, but the house is so much cooler, and the kitchen! Actually the kitchen is still in the works, I only have one cookie tray that fits in the oven, but the stove is nice, brand new Viking stove.

Does moving feel weird to anyone else? You stay in one house for a while, you get used to where everything is, the smell, the squeaks, it becomes so familiar, and then you move. I am still trying to figure out where the silverware drawer is, and if my house is haunted or if it’s just the wind.

Speaking of changes, Not So Culinary Graduate might be changing a little to. While I love bringing you a different recipe twice a month, we might switch it up now and then and do a review or a rant. I’m not saying I won’t throw in a drink recipe or the cookie of the week recipe, I’m just saying be prepared for anything!

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Pre-oven

In the meantime to keep tradition alive and the drinks flowing, this week I made a Fudgy white chocolate brownie. The tops and the side were crispy and slightly crunchy while the inside was sweet, gooey, and fudgy! The white chocolate was an interesting contrast from my typical regular chocolate, throw some chocolate chips on top and you got the best white brownie ever!

Fudgy White Chocolate Brownies

Ingredients:

1/2 Cup unsalted butter

12oz or 1 bag of white chocolate chips

3/4 Cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1/2 Teaspoon of salt

1 Teaspoon vanilla

1 Cup all-purpose flour

Directions;

  1. Melt butter and cholate chips in a microwave safe bowl. Try this 30 seconds at a time to not burn the butter.
  2. Add sugar, eggs, salt and vanilla and mix until incorporated.
  3. Mix in flour till combined.
  4. Spread into a Creased 8” by 8” pan for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool before cutting.

Death to Cupcakes: A New Era Begins (Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes)

Last year, I called it. Just saying.

Its official Crumbs, one of the nation’s largest cupcakes chains, has closed its doors. It seems Americans are tired of this once trend. We no longer feel the need to have a portion sized, personal cake with frosting decorated to wow us. We no longer want art on a platter, we no longer feel the need to pay $3.00 for a cupcake. Americans are tired of your shit cupcakes, you’re out.

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So that leaves me wondering, what’s the next trend? Cheesecake on a stick would be awesome! But then we would have to find portable ways to keep it cool. Gourmet Brownies, that’s something I can get on board with. What about good ol’ fashion cookies? Nah, too… ordinary.

What do you think the next food trend will be? Well if you figure it out let me know… in the meantime…

Chocolate and peanut butter go together like Bonnie and Clyde, Thelma and Louise, Tom and Jerry and Beyoncé and Jay-z. It just works, the salty and sweet, sweet and salty, throw a little sea salt on top and you have an edible euphoria unlike any other.

According to The thechocolatestore.com Americans consume 2.8 billion pounds of chocolate each year, which is approximately 11.6 pounds per person.  On the other hand according to the National Peanut Board (yes this exists), Americans spend $800 million a year on peanut butter, that’s a lot of jars! Obviously this paring is not going out of style any time soon!

Courtney’s coworker requested chocolate peanut butter cupcakes for his birthday and I am always more than happy to deliver. I made a rich chocolate cupcake using both dark chocolate coco powder, and regular coco power. I also decided that this needed a peanut butter filling, so a mock Reese’s filling was pumped into the middle of these suckers, topped off with a peanut butter butter cream.

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Chocolate Peanut butter cupcakes:

If you are allergic to peanuts, these will surely kill you. But if you are a chocolate peanut butter fanatic, these are sure to melt your heart!

Makes 24 cupcakes

The cake was adapted from: Hersey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” chocolate cake recipe

2 cups sugar

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup Hersey’s Dark Chocolate Cocoa powder

1/2 cup Hersey’s cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup boiling water

 

Filling taken from a Wilton recipe:

1 1/2 Tablespoons warm melted butter

1/2 cup peanut butter room temp

3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

 

Peanut-Butter, Butter Cream adapted from the wonderful Martha Stewart:

2/3 cup creamy peanut butter

1 stick of butter, softened

2 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 tablespoons whipping cream

 

 

 

Directions:

Cake:

  1. Heat oven to 350°F
  2. Mix together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin).
  3. Pour into cupcake liners or greased cupcake tins, fill 3/4 full.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle come out clean

Filling:

  1. Core the cupcakes using either a knife or a cupcake corer if you have one
  2. Melt the butter and mix into the peanut butter and confectioner sugar till combined
  3. Resist the urge to eat all of it
  4. Using a spoon, or a bag fill the cored cupcake with this mixture.

Frosting

  1. Mix butter and peanut butter together, add in confectioners’ sugar, and add in whipping cream.
  2. Whip till desired consistency
  3. Again resist the urge to eat it all
  4. Either pipe, or spread on cupcakes.

 

 

 

 

Island Time… (Toasted Coconut Key Lime Pie)

Paradise to me has always been on a beach. There is something so relaxing about the crashing sound of the ocean, the heated sand under you, and all of your cares washed out to sea. Paradise for me is located in a place I’d like to call home, Hawaii. Island time is really different than Eastern Standard Time. When work calls you at three in the morning, you can roll over and hit ignore and nobody cares. When you try to contact people at 9 o’clock island time, and no one answers, it is kind of relaxing. At 12 in the afternoon if you feel like going surfing on your lunch break, it’s expected.May 21 through June 1 I was lucky enough to go to Hawaii with my parents, a graduation present for finally finishing college. From May 21 to the 26 I was in Oahu, and from May 26 to June 1 I was falling in love with Maui.

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Waikiki from the pier

Oahu was nice, if you like the city. High rise building and double digit floor hotels rose off the beach like concrete giants. Honolulu could compare to a small New York City, with bustling storefronts, and business men and women struggling to predict the latest trend in there respected markets. While the city remained busy, the mountains kept a watchful eye in the background, reminding the workers that an escape was only a short drive away.

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The Waikiki beach, so idolized in movies and TV shows, appears nonexistent in this Jersey girls eyes. On the East Coast beaches can stretch as far as a half mile, but here you had maybe 20 feet until the water’s edge, if you were lucky.  A rocky coral lined the beach, which did not affect the standard surfer, but kept the midlife beach goer out of the water. I did take a surf lesson with Gone Surfing, and let me tell you, I would do it again in a heartbeat. I am not weak by any means. I work out almost every day, and I pride myself on my toned body, but paddling the quarter mile out or whatever it may be killed me! Luckily the Gone Surfing team helps you get out, or I would never have surfed in Waikiki.

As you traveled away from the highly commercialized, somewhat polluted city the true colors of the island finally showed through. The island is beautiful! All of the beaches on the island are open to the public, and all of them have something unique to them. I would love to travel to the North Shore in the winter and see the giant wave’s crash on the beach and everything else around them. For now the lush green beauty of the mountains and the calm pristine beaches held me over.

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The pristine beaches of Maui

Maui was something entirely different, Maui was an island of dreams. As we flew in (it’s a 15 minute plane ride from Oahu) we could see sugar cane growing all over the island, and the mountains reaching into the clouds at a height of over ten thousand feet. On the ground it smelled sweet, a mix of sugar cane and plumaira filled the air. We stayed at the Honua Kai in Lahaina and trust me I would live there if I could. Golden sand beaches stretched on, with a sunset every night just over Molokai. There was a reef maybe 6 feet off the beach with the best snorkeling I have ever seen and I have snorkeled all over the world. There was turtles, parrot fish, the entire cast of Nemo, and even an eel or two, I was in fish heaven. On land the things to do greatly outnumbered my time spent there. The road to Hana highlighted my trip. 1 road, 68 miles, roughly 620 curves and 59 one lane bridges all to view the best of Maui. Scenic overlooks, arboretums, waterfalls, and a black sand beach are just a few things that made this drive so special.

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One of the many wonders of Hana

Without a doubt the most busy tourist section of the island was Front Street in Lahaina. We went there every night, may it be for entertainment, dining, or shopping, Front Street was the place to be. The Old Lahaina Luau was a wonderful interpretation of the islands rich culture through the best way they know how, dance. It was amazing to see these dancers contort their bodies, as well as tell the history of the islands all in a way that everyone could understand. I also managed to strike up a conversation with our “waiter” about snowboarding, which I found odd in Hawaii, yet loved.

The fruit in Maui is unlike anything I have ever tasted. On the road to Hana I stopped by a roadside stand and got 7 bananas for a dollar, 7!!! They were the sweetest, freshest piece of fruit I have ever tasted. I also stopped at a different road side stand and got a home grown avocado. This thing was huge!!! Nothing like the store bought avocado in Jersey this thing was the size of my face!! The pineapple drips juices like watermelon. After breakfast each morning I found myself having to wash up because I was covered in sticky juices from the pineapple I devoured. If I lived in Hawaii, the only thing I would eat would be fruit that I picked in the morning, avocado, and fresh fish, what else could I need?

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I was not leaving without a fight

I did not want to leave. In fact my father had to peel me off of a palm tree. I miss the 78 degree weather every day. I miss watching the rain shower come off the mountains in the mornings. I miss talking about surf, and the morning fishing report with the locals. I could move there for an extended amount of time and never run out of things to do. One day I will return only to make plans to live there for a year.

 

Coconut Key Lime Pie:

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One of my favorite desserts (Kona Coffee flavored ice cream aside) was Key Lime Pie that I had at Lahaina Fish Co. I normally don’t like key lime pie, but this was the epitome of island taste. It was so fluffy I thought it was cheesecake at first, but the taste cannot be denied. It had the light texture of damp clouds, and the flavor of tropical islands, definitely one of the most memorable desserts on the island.

Ingredients:

For crust:

1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs

2 tablespoons of sugar

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/4 cup toasted coconut

For the filling:

1, 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk

4 large egg yolks

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh or bottled Key Lime juice

Toasted coconut to taste

Directions:

To make crust:

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. In a large bowl combine cracker crumbs, sugar, melted butter and coconut until combined.
  3. Spread with a fork in a greased 9 inch glass pie pan
  4. Bake for 10 minutes, remove and let cool.

Make filling

  1. Whisk condensed milk and yokes until combined
  2. Add juice and coconut flakes and whisk again until combined.
  3. Pour into the middle of the crust and bake for 15 minutes.
  4. Cool pie completely on a rack.
  5. Chill, covered for 8 hours.

 

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Off the Funfetti Bandwagon (Faux Funfetti Blondies)

Bold statement warning: I HATE FUNFETTI, damn you Pillsbury for turning your sprinkles filled boxed cake mix into a phenomenon.

It seems that everything is Funfetti lately, walking through the food store you can stumble upon: pancake mix, woppie pie mix, cookie mix and of course cake mix. Don’t get me wrong, I love the colors. Trust me; I would be the last person to say that baked goods are better without rainbows, however Funfetti box mix dampers the creativity of bakers.

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Example 1, Courtney:

“I NEED A FUNFETTI BIRTHDAY CAKE!!!” she exclaims with the excitement of a three year old.

“Okay, I’ll just whip up my own Funfetti recipe and…”  I knew that wouldn’t fly. As soon as the words left my mouth regret struck. What was I thinking? Funfetti is Courtney’s birth right, that’s the cake she has always had for her birthday.

“No! I want the box!” 21 years of age, 21!!! I am scared that she is going to lie down in the isle and start throwing a temper tantrum like a 3 year old. I grab the box in hope that a meltdown is avoided. One isle later my fears again are stirred up, “LOOK, FUNFETTI PANCAKE MIX !” Okay, Im not going to lie, I make pretty boss pancakes, growing up I have never used a box mix; even in college I never used a box mix. For Courtney’s birthday I used a boxed Funfetti pancake mix.

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As a baker who is obsessed with doing things from scratch, I firmly believe that Pillsbury has everyone brainwashed. If I make a white cake and throw some sprinkles in you will have the same effect! Home Made Funfetti is way more convenient than running to the store and buying a box, and Funfetti pancake mix is just pancake mix with sprinkles thrown in I CAN DO THE SAME THING!

This past weekend was a washout, at least 3 inches of rain and nothing to do but bake all day. Can you guess what Courtney requested? Funfetti blondies. First of all, my feelings about Funfetti are stated above; second of all, I am not a Blondies fan I am a chocolate fan! Why have vanilla brownies? That’s just a waste of potential chocolate dessert in my eyes.

I imagine that typical Funfetti Blondies would taste like cake, and most recipes I looked up did indeed require the boxed mix. As you can probably guess, I did not go that route. My blondies taste more like chocolate chip cookie dough, yes dough, not the cookies. I made these suckers on Saturday night and let me tell you, they tasted wonderful Sunday morning warmed up for breakfast!

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Faux Funfetti Blondies

Ingredients

1cup butter (room temp or slightly melted)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch salt
2 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Sprinkles as desired

Directions:

  1.        Preheat oven to 350.
  2.        Cream the butter and the sugars using a stand mixer
  3.        Mix in the egg and vanilla
  4.        Add in the flour, baking soda, salt and mix till combined. The dough will be dry.
  5.        With a spoon or your hands mix in the chocolate chips and sprinkles
  6.        Spread out in  a 9X9 greased pan and cook until just golden or 18-20 minutes

 

How to Murder a 12 Year Old’s Dreams (The Best Brownies Ever)

What was the best birthday cake you ever had? On my 12th birthday I dreamed of my cake: rich in chocolate, light, melt in your mouth, the center piece of my birthday party. I never got it.

I have always been particular about my birthday cakes, and my mother has always delivered. Growing up you could say I had an elaborate imagination. I once had a fish themed birthday party and I wanted my cake to be a fish tank. You can bet your bottom dollar that my mom made a chocolate cake decorated as one. On my 18th birthday I told my mom to get creative, actually I told her that I just wanted cannoli’s.  She made a four layer chocolate cake with chocolate mousse icing, and cannoli filling between the layers. I still remember it today; the icing was so light, and so rich in chocolate with a hint of coffee flavor, and the cake, so moist, so light, paired perfectly with the sweet creamy cannoli filling with crunches of mini chocolate chips. It almost makes up for my twelfth birthday, almost.

Brownies

The best chocolate brownie ever!

Twelve was a weird age for me, while I was playing out in the dirt and on the basketball court; all of my friends were growing up and becoming more girly. They all started to care about their hair, boys, lip gloss and being popular. I just cared if I could make ten foul shots in a row, or make the game winning goal in field hockey (some things never change). I was torn between brushing my long matted hair, or cutting it all off to a short pixy cut. Things were definitely changing.

I made a big decision for my birthday that year, I wanted a big chocolate cake with pink icing (are you finding a pattern here with the chocolate). Pink. This was a big decision for me, normally I did purple, green, white, chocolate, chocolate with candy on top, never pink. My mother was slightly thrilled, I was finally embracing my girl side, maybe next I would start brushing my hair and wearing dresses (spoiler alert that did not come until college, the dress part at least). My mother agreed with the biggest smile on her face to make this the best cake ever. You know when your mother says something and you know she is being truthful, she says it with passion and the biggest smile on her face.

Chocolate milk with chocolate brownies... Can you ever have too much chocolate?

Chocolate milk with chocolate brownies… Can you ever have too much chocolate?

My birthday was just like any other, I played outside all morning with my neighbor. Somewhere between racing dirt bikes and climbing the sappy evergreen trees I decided I had to come home to get ready for my party. As soon as I pulled the heavy sliding glass door open, I could tell something was not as it should be.  Have you ever watched a show on TV where the evil genius has this crazy smirk on his face, it was kind of like that. My mother quickly ushered me out of the kitchen, assuring me that everything was fine and that company would be coming soon, I should shower. She was my mom, what else should little naive me believe?

Let’s fast-forward through the party; it was great, family and friends everywhere, different pasta and potato salads sitting on paper plates with flies trying to land on them, all my uncles were drunk, you know typical children’s birthday party. Time for cake.

I sat down at the big dining room table, feeling somewhat lost in the magnitude of the chair at the head of the table.  There was no cake yet, this should have been my first warning sign. The singing began all upbeat and happy, I saw my mother bringing the cake tray from the kitchen to the dining room. Something was not right; I did not see a cake. There was no pink fluffy frosting, no cotton candy clouds of white, no rainbows bursting from the cake in magical glee, in fact there wasn’t even a cake. In front of me my mom dropped with a thud, a flat, heavy, uncooked version of a chocolate cake. No icing, no candles, no nothing.  When the birthday song was over, which now sounded to me like a gaggle of drowning frogs, I did not know what to do. There were no candles to blow out, no wish to make, and no cake! My mom blurted out, “surprise, brownies instead!” everyone started laughing. Was it me they were laughing at, my misfortune, my flat, icingless cake?

I brushed it off. I was 12, tough 12 year olds don’t cry. The cake was never cut, it was thrown out. We had cookies and ice cream instead. Apparently my mom was so busy with preparing everything else she forgot a few key ingredients in the cake.

I never forgave her. Okay that sounds horrible, don’t get me wrong, I love my mother. But after that I was always hesitant to put my trust in her baking, especially after a  few years later when she tried to make me cookies. But that’s another story.

 

Watch out, Courtney couldn't even wait till they were out of the oven!

Watch out, Courtney couldn’t even wait till they were out of the oven!

The Best Brownies Ever

While these brownies are super chocolaty and quite possibly the best brownies ever, I have to warn you – the batter is better. If you can muster up the courage to actually eat the brownies you will not be disappointed.

Ingredients:

¾ cup cocoa

½ teaspoon baking soda

2/3 cup melted butter, divided

1/2 Cup boiling water

2 Cups Sugar

2 eggs

1 1/3 Cup Flour

1 Teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon salt

12 oz bag of semi sweet chocolate chip

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350

Combine cocoa and baking soda, mix in 1/3 cup of melted butter and boiling water, mix until combined.

Stir in sugar and remaining butter.

Add flour, vanilla, and salt,  and chocolate chips. Mix well.

Pour into a greased 9×13 pan, bake for 35-40 minutes.

 

To the Future (Pink Champagne Cupcakes)

At 11,060 feet above sea level, looking over what felt like the entire world, I realized what it would take to make me happy.

Last week (February 12-19) Courtney and I left for Mammoth Lakes California to go snowboarding. Courtney, being the dread headed, nature loving, snowboarding “badass” that she is; used to live in Mammoth and frequently left me wondering what that part of the country was like. As an East Coast Jersey Girl, I don’t think I was ready.

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The Top of the World, Or Mammoth mountain.

Growing up at sea level or below, I did not know what a real mountain looked like. Sure there are ski resorts around us, but I never realized that standing 800 feet above sea level just made you a tall hill. When I first learned to snowboard I went to Bromley Mountain in Vermont, standing 3,281 feet high that was the tallest thing I ever saw, but I never went to the top (so many regrets, but I think that saved me from breaking a few bones when I was just learning).

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Mountains out of the desert, coming from the hot springs

Arriving in Mammoth On Wednesday February 12 was a life changing experience for me. Never in my life have I felt so small. These snow covered giants putrid from the dessert making you focus all of your attention on them, and what small bit of attention is left goes to the beauty of the nature around you. The dessert, so vast and so wide, makes you wonder how anyone found what wonders you see in front of you. The pine trees, whose height puts the Rockefeller Center tree to shame, towers over everything, and watches the sunrise with the mountains before everyone else each morning. When the mountain air reaches your nose you wonder why anyone would want to live in the city. The clean fresh air tickles your nose with the smell of Christmas pine and snow, bound to bring you back to those holiday candles you spent hours in the store picking out.

 

The first full day there we went snowboarding. I have to admit, this terrified me for months leading up to this trip. I am used to a hill, I trained on a hill, I practiced on a hill, and this was a mountain, literally a mountain. But soon my fear proved to be silly, the quality of the snow was unlike the icy east and I was easily able to descend the slopes with confidence and ease. Like my Vermont experience years before I never snowboarded down from the top, but I did go there. The world is in your eyesight, but lies just out of reach of your fingertips.

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Lake Convict, California

I am born and raised a Jersey Girl. I have driven down route 195 going 90 miles an hour, windows down and music blasting, to reach the beach before the New York Bennys. I have laid in a drunken collapse in the sand with salt in my hair bullshitting about being famous one day. I have promised myself that I would never leave the Jersey lifestyle of not pumping our gas, giving the finger to those who look at us weird, and the beach that has put us on the map. I have promised myself I would never leave, until now.

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Arriving at the airport and seeing the mountains for the first time

I have traveled before, I have been to small islands and major cities, I have been to different countries and different continents, however this is the first time I really felt small. There is so much out there to see. I want to travel the world. I want to work on a snow covered mountain top for a few seasons of my life and I want to be able to determine what makes each mountain range different. I want to see islands, and be able to jump off a boat when I feel like a swim with the dolphins is in order. I want to see the world, and what makes it so big. This vacation made me realize that while I am 100% happy sitting on a beach in Jersey drinking vodka out of a water bottle, there is so much more I have not seen.

All of this dreaming big does come with an anchor, my car lease. Okay, I admit, that sounds silly. I am giving myself until the end of my car lease or 33 months to save up money to make the first move of my life. I am aware that I will have to leave my cushy desk job and start over somewhere completely different, and this scares me, but there is so much the world contains that I have never seen.

So cheers to new beginnings to the rest of our lives.

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Pink Champagne

Pink Champagne Cupcakes

Based off Betty Crocker’s Recipe  

Yields about 20

A guy at work asked me what is up with the alcoholic cupcakes lately. I have no idea. I cheated again using a box mix, sorry “home-made-to-the-death”ers. This cupcake comes out super light with a mild champagne flavor. I used Yellow Tails Pink Champagne, but you can substitute it with any kind, try different flavors for an interesting combination.

Ingredients

For the Cake:

1 Box White Cake Mix

1 1/4 Cups of champagne

1/3 Cups vegetable oil

3 Egg whites

Champagne Frosting:

**Before making see note below**

1/2 Cups butter or Margarine, room temp

4 Cups powdered sugar

1/4 Cup of Champagne

1 teaspoon Vanilla

Red Food Color to look

Directions:

Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, line cupcake pan with wrappers
  2. Dump the packaged mix, champagne, Veggie oil and egg whites into a large bowl and mix until the lumps are gone.
  3. Fill cupcake wrappers 3/4 of the way with batter.
  4. Bake 17-20 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Frosting:

  1. Let the butter sit until soft or room temp.
  2. Mix the Butter with a stand mixer, adding the powdered sugar one cup at a time.
  3. Mix in the champagne and the vanilla. If the frosting is too thick add more champagne.
  4. Mix in the food color until it get the pink color as desired

**Note** After mixing let this frosting sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to harden. The champagne makes this have a weird texture, but once refrigerated this loses the weird consistency.

 

Questions or Comments? Please email NotSoCulinaryGraduate@hotmail.com