Things like this are the reason I had to join Weight Watchers:

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Bars, thank you, Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook. I was going to be good and wait until after dinner before having a sample, but we took a drive out West after running to the store (the bambino fell asleep in the backseat), and once we got home, I was a bit peckish. I had planned to wait until dinner before eating again, since I also made these this morning:

Everyday Food’s Yogurt Waffles (also from the April 2010 issue). Filling, crispy & delicious. And the bambino had fun helping to make them.

Yogurt Waffles

Ingredients:

3/4 C all-purpose flour
1/2 C whole-wheat flour
1/2 C rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 C packed light brown sugar (I used dark brown sugar because I had just enough left for the 1/4 C)
3 Tbsp melted, unsalted butter (I used salted, since, again, that’s what I had)
3 large eggs
1 1/2 C plain, low-fat yogurt (I used Stonyfield Farm’s Low-Fat French Vanilla, since I didn’t want to give up my Chobani for this)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 250°F. In a large bowl, whisk the flours, oats, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. In another bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, butter, eggs, and yogurt until smooth. Stir egg mixture into dry mixture, and mix well to combine. Let batter rest for 15 minutes (it should be rather puffy & airy when the 15 minutes is up).

Heat a waffle iron according to directions & either brush with more melted butter, or spray with cooking spray of your choice. Pour 1/2 C of batter onto iron and close. Cook until waffle is golden and crisp, about 3 minutes (I checked mine after 5 minutes). Transfer to a wire rack on a baking sheet and place in oven to keep warm.

I dunno what’s with me and oats these days, but between having steel-cut oats or yogurt with granola for breakfast, The Pioneer Woman’s BBQ Meatballs, the waffles and the chocolate-peanut butter bars, I’ve eaten a lot of oats in the past week or two. Which is a good thing. The extra fiber never hurts. And oats are so versatile. I’d have to track the recipe down, but I was thinking last night about making an oats & buttermilk snacking cake. I forget where I got the recipe, and I don’t think I’ve made it since we bought our house 2 years ago. The last time I recall making it was in our apartment. But it too is delicious, and I’ve got plenty of oats to use up!

I had a request from my friend Abby that I make the Mexican Hot-Chocolate Cookies WITH the chili powder sometime in the very near future. She’s about halfway through her pregnancy, so I don’t know how that will go over with her boy-bug, but for my 3rd trimester, the bambino & I craved hot sauce. I ate a LOT of buffalo chicken those last 3 months. I also had a request from Auntie Em that I actually post the recipe, so here it is:

Mexican Hot-Chocolate Cookies (from Everyday Food, April 2010)

Ingredients:

2 1/4 C all-purpose flour
1/2 C unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Dutch-process cocoa)
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. coarse salt
1 C (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened (I used Organic Valley Salted Sweet Cream butter because that’s all I had)
1 3/4 C sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. chili powder (optional)

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400°F, with racks in upper & lower thirds positions. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer*, beat butter & 1 1/2 C sugar until light & fluffy (about 2 minutes), scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add eggs, and beat to combine. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture & beat to combine.

*(I do believe that when the recipe calls for an electric mixer, they’re thinking of a heavy-duty stand mixer, rather than a hand mixer. I used my trusty Cuisinart hand mixer, and was seriously afraid that halfway through adding in the flour mixture, I’d burn the motor out. Being unable to afford the Kitchen Aid that I’ve decided I now need, the next time I make these, I’ll do the mixing by hand. My arms could do with some strengthening anyway.)

In a small bowl, combine 1/4 C sugar, cinnamon & chili powder (unless you wuss out like I did). Using heaping tablespoons, roll the dough into balls, then roll in the cinnamon-sugar-chili powder mixture.  Place 2-3 inches apart on baking sheets (mine didn’t spread out as much as I was expecting, so 2 inches apart is probably fine), and bake until the centers of the cookies are set & starting to crack–About 10 minutes. Rotate the sheets after 5 minutes. Let cookies cool for a couple minutes on baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks.

I will say that these are not diet-friendly cookies–6 WW points per 2 cookies, so eat at your own risk! A friend (also doing Weight Watchers) made the point that had I added the chili powder, these would’ve become the type of cookies that one savors, rather than shoves in one’s face, and therefore would be an acceptable indulgence. I do believe she is correct.

It was so nice being able to go for a walk after work tonight. In spite of the puddles, and in spite of the mud, the fresh air was wonderful. We just went around the block, since neither Jay or I was skeptical that the bambino would make it the whole way without wanting to be carried. The poor little guy tripped and fell, and has a nice goose egg on his forehead now.

I love baking with Dutch cocoa, but it is a HUGE pain and seems to get EVERYwhere. We’re having a bake sale tomorrow at work for a coworker who’s possibly got MS, and her husband is either having or has had back surgery, so I decided to make the Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies from my latest issue of Everyday Food (I don’t have a link to the recipe, because all I found was a Betty Crocker one, which very well could be the same, but I didn’t bother to look, and I’m too lazy to type out the recipe right now. Perhaps when I have more time or I come back to proofread, I’ll provide it.). I did leave out the chili powder, just because I don’t think it would’ve gone over very well, although I was rather curious to try the cookies that way. No matter…The dough (and cookie) that I sampled tasted just fine as is:

While my ego hopes that all my cookies sell, I’m also secretly hoping that no one appreciates the beauty that is chocolatey cinnamon, and that I get to bring a bunch back home with me. The recipe made 33 cookies (minus what I sampled as I was making the dough), so I’ll take 2 dozen for the bake sale, and keep the rest for myself. It’s after 10, so I need to go bag them up and get myself to bed.

For the first time in over a week, the sun’s trying to break through the clouds. It’s amazing how my mood has perked up now that I’ve noticed it.

I’ve gotten the grocery shopping done, and as usual, spent a little more than I was planning. The bambino needed more diapers, and those aren’t cheap. I also stocked up on a few other things for the week. I did make a menu, and didn’t really deviate from my list. We’ll be doing 2 vegetarian nights this week–Tubetti cacio e uova Tuesday, and then broiled polenta with marinara on Thursday. It’ll help stretch the meat we do have out a bit. Tomorrow night’s not quite vegetarian–Soup & sandwiches, but the soup I’m making will have ground beef in it, and I’ll be dusting off the panini maker for some yummy grilled organic cheese. I don’t know if I’ll use the whole wheat bread that we have half a loaf left of, or if I’ll use the whole wheat oat bread I’ve got resting at the moment.

We’ll be heading down to Inwood, Iowa to visit Jay’s grandmother tomorrow morning. It’ll be interesting–His grandmother is a little nuts, but in a good way. She reminds me a bit of my grandma Myra–Very blunt & outspoken, which I like.

My new issue of Everyday Food showed up this afternoon, so I think I’ll flip through that while I wait for the dryer to finish up!

On January 13th, we happened to swing through the grocery store to pick up a couple things. Right in front of the produce area was a guy selling subscriptions to the Argus Leader, Sioux Falls’ main paper. They had a deal on Wednesday & Sunday delivery for $10/month. I like newspapers, and I miss reading the Sunday paper. Plus, since we’re supposed to be on a budget and all, the coupons in the Sunday paper would be most helpful. So I signed up. It helped that in return for my subscription, I received $15 in Hy-Vee gift cards. The problem is that I have yet to see an Argus Leader, either on Wednesday or Sunday. I really doubt that anyone is stealing our papers…Our area of Brookings might be the northern/older/less-desirable section of town, but it’s quiet. And we’re right across the block from a church. No, I think the problem is with whoever the chuckleheaded delivery person happens to be for our neighborhood. I have called the customer service department three times now. This last time, I called just to cancel the subscription altogether, because even though they keep giving me credit for all the papers I’ve missed, it’s stupid for me to have to keep calling about it. However, the guy I talked to offered to give me another 2 weeks free if I would just give it one more chance. Supposedly he talked to his supervisor, who was supposed to contact the manager of the delivery area, but I don’t know if that happened or not. The woman with whom I spoke last week said the same thing, and it looked like nothing had been done. But, not surprisingly, I checked this morning, and I still have yet to see an Argus. I’ll give them the 2 weeks, then I will call to cancel and won’t get suckered into giving them any more chances.

Jay & I decided this afternoon to do something that will shock anyone who knows me even remotely well. We’re going to attempt a vegetable garden this summer. Yes, I know that I don’t eat vegetables, other than a select few. I know that I hate Nature and the not-so-great-Outdoors. I’m not fond of bugs, dirt, heat, or sunlight. But I’m going to try and grow food. I’m actually kind of excited about it. We went & bought seeds for tomatoes, carrots, radishes, zucchini, peppers, lettuce, cilantro, oregano, parsley, marjoram, and pumpkins. We’ll see how it all works out. I should probably get a bunch of books on gardening, seeing as I know virtually NOTHING about it! And we already figure that this first year will be more of a learning experience than anything else, so we’re not exactly having high expectations for any decent yield.

I need to budget my time on weekends when I don’t work Saturdays a lot better. I went grocery shopping yesterday, and that was pretty much it. Today, I’ve baked cookies, made breakfast, made dinner, did all the laundry, including the bambino’s bedding, remade the bambino’s bed after his sheets & blanket were clean, hand-washed I don’t know how many dishes, made homemade hot fudge sauce, popped out to the store, and at the moment, I have bread rising for the second time. I think in large part, I’ve made myself so busy in order to exhaust myself, because I haven’t gotten a decent night’s sleep since Wednesday night. But I’ve also kind of screwed myself because I won’t be getting into bed to try & fall asleep until probably 10:30, if not later. Oh well.

I need to work on tweaking the settings on my new camera. That’s using the cloudy setting with flash. Apparently, SoDak really is this dark & depressing. I’m really trying not to let SAD get the better of me today, but the faster the snow falls, the faster my mood falls. 3 more inches between now & tomorrow, then semi-blizzard conditions kick in. I’ve heard from more than one person around town that this winter has been particularly harsh, and not because the snowfall’s been all that unusual or anything…There hasn’t been nearly as much of a break as far as the really frigid temps, or the frequency of snow. This winter (with the exception of a couple of freakish days in early October), the snow held off until December. But it’s basically been falling a couple inches at a time (or more, in some cases)  once or twice a week since probably December 15th. And off-hand, there was a string of maybe 3 or 4 days last month where there was sun, and things started to melt. Then the temp dropped again, and the snow started up. I keep thinking about a passage from one of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books (and I can’t remember which one exactly, but I think it’s Little Town on the Prairie), where she’s taken a teaching job somewhere outside of De Smet, and she has to live with the superintendent or some other school official. She wakes up one night to witness the man’s wife holding him at knifepoint, and she’s telling him she wants to move back East. I’m beginning to understand exactly why that woman cracked.

Although we have a self-imposed ban on any spending other than food, bills, or other necessities, we did venture out to lunch this afternoon, and we’re going out for dinner tomorrow night. We took the bambino to Nick’s again, although this time he was more interested in spinning around on the stool than he was in his cheeseburger. No matter. He’s a Brookings native, so most likely, if he ever moves away, Nick’s will be one of the places he’ll need to stop when he comes home to visit…Not unlike my need for Skyline & LaRosa’s whenever I’m in Cincinnati.

I got the grocery shopping done…I kind of figured that if I can’t spend money on things other than food or bills these days, I might as well go back to buying more expensive and organic food. I’m trying to decide if I want to make Pasta Filetto di Pomodoro (from the Rao’s cookbook), or if I want to attempt Tubetti Cacio e Uova. I did buy pancetta this morning, with the specific intent of using it for the Pasta Filetto di Pomodoro, but we’ve eaten a LOT of red meat in the past couple of days (and I know neither Jay or the bambino would find anything wrong with that), so a simple yet filling meatless dish might be nice. We’ll see though. I was thinking I need to make some Hot Fudge Brownie Pudding (which is what it’s called in my mom’s old-school Better Homes & Gardens cookbook, although in my not-as-old-school BHG cookbook, it’s called Brownie Pudding Cake, and online, it’s been given yet another new name), since I have this need to use my still-new dessert bowls and I did buy some organic vanilla ice cream as well this morning. I also need to bake bread sometime this weekend, although if that doesn’t get done before tonight’s dinner, that’s okay. Our dinner reservations aren’t until 5 tomorrow night, so I have plenty of time, even if it goes into the oven after the bambino goes to bed.