rice flour and tapioca flour and xantham gum, oh my!

many of you know how much i love to bake, and some of you have even been lucky enough to enjoy some of my treats.  now, since i no longer have an office to go into, i had to figure out what to do with all my baked goods, because keeping a whole cake or tray of cookies in the condo with just phillip and me is out of the question.  we’d be too tempted to eat it all ourselves!  so, i started baking things phillip could take to his coworkers.  he’s relatively new at his job as well, and there’s almost no better way to make friends in a new place than coming in with something tasty to share with everyone.

the first recipe i sent to the office with him were those classic and delicious peanut butter, sugar-rolled cookies with a hershey’s kiss on top.  they are almost always a crowd-pleaser!  but when phillip returned at the end of the day with nearly half the cookies still in the tin, i was a wreck!  “phillip, what happened?  did people not like them?  we tried them last night and they were perfect!”  after taking a moment to catch my breath, phillip responded, “well, it turns out that a lot of people in the office are gluten-free and couldn’t eat them.  but those who did have one loved them!”  such a great cheerleader.  🙂

“well, i guess i need to find some gluten-free recipes, then!”  so, discouraged not and determined much, i was on the hunt, and since i know nothing about gluten-free baking, i took my search to social media and relied on my trusty facebook friends to lend a hand.  luckily, within what seemed like just minutes, several folks responded with suggestions – what great people!  after perusing the suggestions, we finally decided that this gluten-free chocolate chip recipe would be the way to go.  it is a classic and cookies are easy to share, so it seemed like it had potential to be a winner.

nothing about the recipe itself scared me away; however, i had to be sure we had the right gluten-free ingredients on hand, so off to whole foods i went!  i made a beeline to the baking aisle and was astounded at the variety and number of alternative baking ingredients out there.  who knew such a world existed!  after checking the shelves, checking my shopping list, and checking my shopping cart again, i was ready to go.

back at the condo with the necessary supplies flung around the kitchen, it was time to get to work.  step by step everything came together nicely, and phillip can confirm that the batter itself tasted as delicious as any one of your favorite gluten-full chocolate chip cookie recipe batters.  that’s got to be a good sign!

but, the real test would be when the cookies were baked, cooled, and ready to eat.  as stated in the recipe, i tried baking them for 14 minutes per sheet, rotating halfway through, but those batches were a little more golden than we prefer, likely due to our oven running a little hot.

so, we bumped it down to 12 minutes total and ended up with a pretty delicious result.  i mean, we just had to taste test a couple of cookies each, washing them down with an ice-cold glass of milk.

with new-found gluten-free confidence, we packaged the cookies up, wrote up a little note and ingredient list, and phillip took them to the office the next day.  i almost couldn’t concentrate on my own work, i was so eager to hear if they were liked!  i got a text from phillip in the afternoon that people were loving the cookies and were appreciative that we took the time and money to go out of our way and make a gluten-free recipe.  ah!  success is ours!

now, we could have stopped there, content with the joy our cookies brought phillip’s co-workers.  however, the baker in me was too intrigued and had to keep going.  one of my own colleagues recommended to me a book called alternative baker, and i have been conquering it like there is no tomorrow!  from the corn meal blueberry muffins to the no-bake oat bars, everything we have made so far has been a hit and there is only more to explore and create.  what more could a baker ask for, right?  right!  if you’re someone out there who has a sweet tooth like us but has some dietary restrictions, i highly recommend giving this particular recipe and this book a try.  the baking world is full of so many creative options, and who knows, maybe you’ll surprise yourself with a new favorite.  🙂  enjoy!

vegan week day 5

okay, everyone, i know you all are just on the edge of your seats, waiting to hear how #veganweek wrapped up for phillip and me.  well, to quote barry manilow (and honor his beagle named bagel), i’ll just say that “it looks like we made it.”  somehow, some way, we made it through #veganweek.

did i like all the food we ate during #veganweek?  yes, and most of it i would absolutely make it again.  the hard part about it all is that i know how delicious some of my favorite foods are, and all week i was denying myself those tasty pleasures.  i wouldn’t say those cravings were overwhelming, but it became a mental game at some point.  just one more day, one more hour, one more moment!  that’s truly what it came down to.

so, friday night arrived and we met up with a bunch of friends at a local tavern called hobnob for dinner.  i’d already taken a look at the menu before we showed up, so i knew there would be a few options.  i started off with the allagash white beer and phillip treated himself to terrapin brewery’s peach brew of the summer season, which was appropriately sweet and refreshing for the hot night outside.

hooray beer!

hooray beer!

as we gabbed and caught up with one another, it was quite a test of will whether or not i would cave in or push through one more meal for #veganweek.  i tried not to let my eyes wander to the other tables that had steaming plates full of what looked like delectable pub food piled high.  by some miracle i stuck to my commitment and ordered the veggie burger while phillip tried the piedmont burger.  now, these burgers looked delicious as the wacky waitress placed them in front of us, but the taste was a different story entirely.  after taking just one bite of the falafel patty (which itself wasn’t too bad), every bite from there on out tasted like falafel.  seriously, it was like there was no distinction of flavor among the different ingredients.  i couldn’t even finish it, which i think says something about the dish but also about my waning excitement for #veganweek.  i wish i could say phillip’s experience was better, but unfortunately it was not.  as the first meal containing meat all week, it was very unsatisfying and underwhelming.  we both even had small stomach aches afterwards!  i guess i shouldn’t be too surprised, but it made it clear to me that this five-day challenge was plenty long.

after our disappointing dinner (everyone else very much liked what they had), we all headed back to kyle and kari’s apartment for a rooftop hangout.  they’re moving later this month to a house (ooh, how adult!), so we had to gather one last time at their place.  i mean, how are we not all going to miss this view?


we grabbed some benches around the fire pit, got that thing going, and busted out the s’mores supplies.  although it may have been ninety-something degrees out, the classic summer treat s’mores sounded like such a good idea.  and boy were they, especially as the #veganweek ending reward!

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our final celebration for #veganweek came this morning when phillip and i had brunch at the original pancake house.  man, let me tell you, i ate half of the hash and pancake specialty in record time that i got done and didn’t even really remember eating it all!  the pancakes were so fluffy and buttery, and that corned beef hash was from heaven, i swear.  i took the last bite of over-easy egg with extra crispy bacon and said to phillip, “that was insanely good.”  it was the perfect end to an exciting and interesting week.


so, now that we made it through #vegan week, what are our final thoughts?  well, first off, the thing about eating vegan is that you really have to plan it all out.  you can’t just swing by your local mcdonald’s for a ten pack of nugs.  and you can’t just run into starbucks for your favorite latte or frappuccino.  i think that’s one of the hardest parts.  you also really have to be thoughtful about bringing food with you in case you end up in a hungry situation and won’t have quick access to something that fits your diet.

would i say i felt a physical difference?  probably not, in all honesty.  i still consumed a similar amount of food, it’s just that what i was eating was generally better for me than what i usually have.  phillip said he definitely felt more active and alert, which is something i suppose we all would like during our regular day-to-day.

i think more than anything #veganweek opened my eyes up personally to the fact that if i do want to snack between larger meals, i can do so in a healthy way.  for example, i can enjoy a ripe peach rather than a bag of chips (but don’t expect me to put down the spicy nacho doritos any time soon).

would i try #veganweek again?  probably not.  however, i do have a better understanding of that dietary lifestyle and everything that comes with it.  to those of you who have followed along all week, thank you for tuning in!  i hope our journey was entertaining and inspiring, in some way.  🙂

chocolate sheet cake

chocolate cake

folks, this recipe comes to you straight from the pioneer woman.  i made this classic chocolate sheet cake this past weekend for mother’s day, and i think it’s safe to say that our mothers and everyone else partaking in the celebration very much enjoyed a slice.  this cake is decadent yet somehow not too sweet.  be warned, though, that a small piece will do you just fine, especially if you top it with some vanilla ice cream.  noms!

the sprinkles were a recommendation from milo, and someone even commented that the cake reminded them of those irresistible little debbie treats called cosmic brownies.  i think i can safely put them both in the ‘i only need one but will eat the whole box/pan’ category.

krog street market – atlanta, ga

it has felt like eons since we did an official restaurant review, so i promised myself i wouldn’t go two months into the year without changing that fact.  last wednesday kyle, kari, phillip, and i carpooled to the southeastern part of town to check out krog street market.

since it was the first time there for kari and i, we didn’t quite know where to start.  so, we let the experienced boys lead us on a loop of the place to check everything out.  this development has been around for a little while now and whoa!  it’s obvious why people all over town love it.  it kind of feels like a grown-up food court where you can pick from several types of cuisine depending on your preference that day.  there are also tons of store fronts for local artisans who are selling anything from dog treats to handmade soaps.  there’s even an adult beverage shop right next to the bar where you can go to get away from work, life, the kids, whatever it may be!  if you’re a small business supporter, krog street market is the place for you.

i had been craving greek food for a while and finding yalla! online is what actually led us here.  kari was on board for greek as well, but phillip and kyle wandered elsewhere for their meal.  the yalla! stall is very inviting if you ask me, and i guess other people felt so, too, because there was a little bit of a line.  kari grabbed us a couple menus and we joined them.

the yalla! menu is perfect because one side has all the menu options and the other has a little glossary of terms for you to ensure you are ordering something you will fully enjoy.  although i had been coming in completely convinced i was in the mood for lamb, my mind changed the second i saw falafel as an option.  done and done!

as we waited patiently, we both liked the fact that you get to watch as the chefs make your meal.  they take care with each dish, treating food like the form of art i truly feel it is.  as our orders approached, we heard one of the line cooks call out a lamb laffa.  we both looked at the tray in amazement.  the laffa is massive!  it’s a humongous flatbread that’s used as a sandwich wrap.  kari and i were both convinced the laffa is something you can easily share between a couple people.  it looked filling and delicious!

after retrieving our orders, we found the boys had done the favor of finding some seats for us.  to give to that “community” feel, krog street market has long tables perfectly designed to encourage conversation among groups.  this layout also obviously lends greatly to some stellar observing and people watching.  i bet it was intentional; what do you think?  😉

hungry boys!

hungry boys!

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february 15th – nyc

monday in new york arrived a little quicker than we probably would have liked because monday meant we were halfway through our trip – oh no!  well, even though we’d spent the last couple of days lounging in bed until the early afternoon, we couldn’t allow ourselves to just sit around on our hands three days in a row.  no, sir!  not while in new york!  so phillip and i bid au revoir to natalie for the morning and, you guessed it, hit up hot & crusty for more bagels!  i think at this point our bagel count was nearing ten.  um, should we be embarrassed?  wait, on second thought, let’s all keep our comments to ourselves regarding our bagel consumption on this trip.  yes, i think it’s safer that way and at the end of the day we’ll all still be friends.  🙂

we ordered more fresh baked bagels and hot coffee and, because we couldn’t resist, a boulder-sized chocolate, chocolate chip muffin.  well, if we’re gonna be bad, we may as well do it right!  phillip and i leisurely munched on our treats at a table inside as we people watched all the locals in their monday morning routine.  a gentleman to my left with lox and the newspaper, a couple beside him sharing a croissant, the local delivery man stopping by to get to-go bags (i’d bet good money one of them was for natalie!).  through the window we saw gentle snow flurries beginning to fall, so we figured if we were going to do some walking we’d better get to it.

it turned out that phillip and i pretty much had the whole day free to ourselves.  as much as i would love to have gone to the public library to curl up with a book, we decided to stay in the area.  since we’d already gone to the met on saturday, we decided to venture to the west side of town to see what we could see.  now, despite the fact that the snow was beginning to pick up, phillip convinced me to take a stroll with him along the sidewalks of iconic central park.  i must admit it was quite a lovely idea.  we saw several bundled pups dragging along their owners, couples arm in arm, and joggers aplenty.  the grounds were mostly quiet and although it was getting colder with each step, the scene was nothing short of picturesque.

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today we hosted our first cookie swap at the office, and oh my, what fun it was!  we all brought a couple dozen cookies and recipes to exchange and had the best time making ourselves nearly sick on chocolate and sweets.

i made brownie cookies, aka brookies.  i have no clue where i found this recipe originally, but i’ve had it for years and consider it one of my favorites.  they are brownie-textured but cookie-shaped and so divine and fairly easy.  i didn’t take any action shots for you, for i was a bit tired at midnight last night when i was whipping up these bad boys.  i do, though, have the recipe!


1 Tablespoon canola oil

1 teaspoon unsalted butter

2 cups semisweet chocolate chunks (52-62% cacao)

2 large eggs

3/4 cup light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt


preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.

in a microwave-safe bowl, melt oil, butter, and one cup of the chocolate for 2.5-3 minutes, stirring at 1-minute intervals.  let cool.

in another bowl, whisk together eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla until combined.

fold melted chocolate mixture into the egg mixture.

whisk together the remaining dry ingredients in a separate bowl.

combine the flour mixture with the chocolate mixture and then fold in the remaining chocolate chunks.

freeze the batter in a shallow pan (such as a pie plate) 6-8 minutes until it sets and hardens slightly.

line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.  scoop about 10 Tablespoons of batter onto each sheet.

bake 11-12 minutes, until the tops look dry and cracked.  cool completely.

turtle pretzels

ladies and gentlemen, i present to you the easiest treat ever made by man:  turtle pretzels!  okay, i don’t think they’re really called turtle pretzels, but they’re something i made last thanksgiving with the family, and i never really got the name.  so!  turtle pretzels they will be!

this recipe is so stinkin’ easy that i am not even going to break it down into ingredients and directions.  you can literally read the instructions here and be good to go!

preheat your oven to 250 degrees fahrenheit.

grab a cookie sheet and line it with parchment paper.  if you ran out of parchment paper like i did, use tin foil instead.  place those window pane pretzels on there, just a little spaced out.


next, violently tear open a bag of rolos.  i use the word violently because when i cut and ripped mine open, i had rolos everywhere.  it was like an early rolo Christmas just for my tiny kitchen and me.  then, because you don’t want to look too much like a mess, place them all next to the bag nicely as if they had just come out that way.

rolo bag

unwrap those little candies and place one atop each pretzel.

pop the cookie sheet into the oven for two minutes.  only two minutes, kelsey?  doesn’t that seem a little short?  well, yes, in the grand scheme of things two minutes is not very long at all, and you don’t need a long time with these little guys.  they just need to warm enough so that we can smash them down, which we’ll do in just a moment, if you’ll be patient.

after those long and excruciating two minutes are up, pull the cookie sheet out and press a pecan half down on top of each rolo.  the reason you only need two minutes is because if you go any longer, all that caramel surprise inside the rolo will squirt right out, and that’s not what we want.

let the treats cool and harden and then store them in an airtight container.  then take them to your company holiday party and watch them get scarfed up by all your ravenous coworkers who cannot get enough of your baking.  happy holidays!

rum balls

i’ve known my coworker mark now since 2010, and years ago i brought in rum balls per his special request.  now, these things are not my cup of tea at all, but oh goodness, he could not get enough of them!  these strong little suckers are right up his alley, and he so kindly reminded me last week that i hadn’t made them in quite some time…

say no more, mark!  i grabbed my ingredients, made a quick stop at the liquor store for the good stuff, and got to work tonight.  these rum balls are quite easy to make, but i will warn you now that they are a bit messy.  rum balls don’t roll themselves, so be prepared to get your hands dirty.  the recipe is below, along with all kinds of fun pictures.  enjoy!


1 cup milk chocolate chocolate chips

1/2 cup white sugar

3 Tablespoons corn syrup

1/3 cup choice rum (i used captain morgan’s white rum this time, but you could just as easily use a silver rum; you could also use bourbon if that’s more your style)

2 1/2 cups crushed vanilla wafers (about an 11-ounce box will do)

1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar


if you were so fortunate to find a box of vanilla wafers already ground up, good for you!  if you were not so fortunate, crush those little guys up with a food processor.  it’ll take all of about two minutes, and opening up a brand new box of vanilla wafers is, le sigh, divine.  those things might be some of the best smelling crackers/cookies in the world.  just my opinion!

next, microwave the rum for about a minute and then add the white sugar to dissolve it.  i promise that doing so will make the mixture easier to incorporate in a minute.


oh, and after you heat up that rum, it is going to smell strong.  just a warning.

place the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and heat them in the microwave for one minute.  stir, and if necessary, return to the microwave and heat at 20-second intervals, stirring between each, until melted and smooth.

add and blend the rum-sugar mixture and corn syrup with the silky chocolate.


in a large bowl, stir together the crushed vanilla wafers, walnuts, and chocolate mixture until evenly distributed.


okay, next comes the fun part.  use your hands to roll the “batter” into little balls, just a skosh smaller than a ping pong ball.  anything bigger is going to be overwhelming, take my word for it.

oh, also take my word for it that it is easiest to roll all of the balls first before we take them for a dip in the confectioner’s sugar.  and yes, your hands are going to get quite icky.  that’s why you have a little brother to take that picture for you, so no one misses any of the fun!

so, the final step is to roll each ball of chocolately-alcoholic goodness around in a bowl of confectioner’s sugar.  i use more like a 1/2 cup of sugar because i like to coat those things well.  after they’re all covered and white like winter snow, pop them in the refrigerator, cover them, and leave them for a week so that all the flavors can blend together.  once you finally do peel off that lid, the rum will be strong and taste even stronger which, if you’re anything like mark, is a glorious thing.

malted milk chocolate chip cookies

even though i’ve had no work today in observance of labor day, i’ve been quite productive.  i caught up on sleep, cleaned up the house, did laundry, ran to the grocery store, and wrote some wonderful posts for you lovely people.  i also got domestic and baked some homemade malted milk chocolate chip cookies.  they’re one of my favorites, and they’re even better when you dollop on a huge scoop of ice cream and freeze them for your own sandwiches.  quite delicious!

here’s the recipe for all you bakers out there:


1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup golden brown sugar

3/4 cups white sugar

2 whole eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup malted milk powder

12 ounces milk chocolate chips


preheat oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit.

cream butter with electric mixer.

add both sugars and cream until fluffy.

add eggs and beat lightly.

add vanilla and beat until combined.

add malted milk powder and beat until combined.

sift together flour, baking soda, and salt.  add to butter mixture, beating gently until just combined.

add chocolate chips and stir in gently with spatula.

drop by tablespoon-fuls and bake 11-12 minutes.