Friday, August 24, 2012

In Denial

As I continue to wildly cling to my denial about the end of summer, Mark and I escaped for a mini getaway (really a last hurrah) to Maine the past 2 nights.  Now that we are home, and he works for the next two days, it is starting to hit me that the next time I see him, it will be Monday morning... at school.  UGH.

To attempt to distract myself from this, I cooked and baked nearly nonstop since we got home this afternoon.  After a lovely trip to the Westminster Farmers' Market, I picked up some heirloom tomatoes and beets (Mark and I recently found out that we love beets.  Who knew?).  As for the tomatoes, I just sliced them up, salted and peppered them, and sprinkled on some parsley from my garden.  Yeah, usually it's basil, but my basil tastes awful  because I let it flower (note to self: do not let basil flower or it tastes bitter and inedible!!)  Then Mark, king of balsamic, did a tiny drizzle of that and some olive oil, and voilah: delicious tomato salad.  As for the beets, I just roasted them in my Dutch oven for a half hour and then peeled and chopped them.  Mark, Mom and I were happy to just salt and pepper them.  And maybe it's weird, but I was 100% happy to eat fresh corn on the cob (from the Farmers' Market!), tomato salad, and beets for dinner.

Then it was time to celebrate National Banana Split Day.  I bet you didn't know that there even was such a day, and neither did I, frankly, until I saw it on one of my favorite food blogs.  Skinny Taste always has great recipes that are low in fat and calories, and therefore amazing.  Who would have known that things like mac and cheese or cheesecake could be actually healthy!?  Gina at Skinny Taste, that's who.  And she posted a recipe for guiltless banana splits.  After Mark and I gorged ourselves on goat-cheese-covered-everything, French fries, and mashed potatoes all week, we both felt the need for some low fat dessert, so we stopped at the grocery store on the ride home.  I did add chopped walnuts to the recipe, mainly because I knew my mother would hate (and complain about) any sundae without nuts.  This is not so much a recipe as a list of the proper ingredients for a guiltless banana split, since I'm sure everyone knows the steps to make a good split.  It's more about what ingredients you are using - no-fat frozen yogurt instead of ice cream, and low-fat chocolate syrup, for instance -and portion size (2/3 cup of yogurt).  They were very quick to whip up (it helped that we bought monster bananas and I only used one for 4 sundaes!) and everyone loved them.  Quick, easy, healthy banana splits:you just can't beat it.  FYI, the recipe calls for them to be made "in a jar" and clearly I just used small dishes and ramekins, so I removed the jar part from the recipe name.

Then even though it was getting late, I was in the mood to bake (read that as "in the mood to not work on my class website, or print my door decorations, or write out my name tags, or plan my first week's lessons, etc.").  I gave my mom a few options to choose from, and then regretted doing so.  I bought a doughnut pan the other day and I am dying to try it out, but alas - Mom chose ginger cookies.  I had pinned a recipe from Ina Garten for "ultimate ginger cookies" and figured Mom would love them.  She gets obsessed with ginger cookies.  She even buys them from the grocery store.  And this recipe had all sorts of interesting things in it, like molasses and ground cloves and cinnamon and nutmeg and chopped crystalized ginger!  I thought they sounded cool and really flavorful, so I made them.  I had been a little nervous because I was out of parchment paper, but a good spray with Pam for Baking and nothing stuck.  Whew!  The cookies were easy enough to mix up.  They did have to be balled up, flattened, and rolled in sugar, but that didn't take me too long.  The recipe says it makes 16 cookies but I got 20 out of it.  13 minutes later, and my kitchen smelled like ginger and cloves, also knowsn as Christmas (not a great thing if you are very busy pretending it is late June). 

And the end result?  Kenzie and I ate 2, and Mark had one, and we all loved them.  As for Mom? Not so much.  She claimed to get a "huge" chunk of crystallized ginger and that it was "sooo hot" and spicy.   Sigh.  I should have made the damn doughnuts!  But anyway, she's tough to please, and claims to only like her ginger cookie recipe that has fresh ginger in it instead of the "candy."  However, please do consider making these cookies despite the lack of glowing recommendation from Mom.  They are very soft, fluffy, and delicious, with all sorts of great flavor mixing going on - not to mention those perfect cookie wrinkles.  And they are the Barefoot Contessa's recipe, for god's sake!  That woman can do no wrong! 

Speaking of Ina, I just noticed that on her website, you can buy her cookbooks autographed by her!  And they are only $35!!! Does anyone need any great ideas for a gift for me?  Perhaps you are getting your Christmas shopping done now?  Or birthday (it's only about 5 months early; no biggie).  Or perhaps you realize that no one actually remembered to celebrate me getting my Master's 2 years ago?  Or you appreciate my cooking and baking endeavors and just love me? Well just in case, here you go   ;)

guiltless banana splits
ultimate ginger cookies

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