Oscars 2013

Academy Award nominees I’ve seen so far this year:

Best Picture (7 of 9)
“Argo” – WINNER
“Beasts of the Southern Wild”
“Les Misérables”
“Life of Pi”
“Lincoln”
“Silver Linings Playbook”
“Zero Dark Thirty”

Best Actress in a Leading Role (3 of 5)
Jessica Chastain in “Zero Dark Thirty”
Jennifer Lawrence in “Silver Linings Playbook” – WINNER
Quvenzhané Wallis in “Beasts of the Southern Wild”

Best Actor in a Leading Role (4 of 5)
Bradley Cooper in “Silver Linings Playbook”
Daniel Day-Lewis in “Lincoln” – WINNER
Hugh Jackman in “Les Misérables”
Denzel Washington in “Flight”

Best Actress in a Supporting Role (3 of 5)
Sally Field in “Lincoln”
Anne Hathaway in “Les Misérables” – WINNER
Jacki Weaver in “Silver Linings Playbook”

Best Actor in a Supporting Role (3 of 5)
Alan Arkin in “Argo”
Robert De Niro in “Silver Linings Playbook”
Tommy Lee Jones in “Lincoln”
(Haven’t seen this) Christoph Waltz “Django Unchained” – WINNER

Fitness backslide

So after the last four days I’m all caught up on posting chocolate chip cookie recipes. For now, at least. I reserve the right to make more this weekend, but hopefully I’ll use whatever free time I have to fine tune my perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe rather than try anything new. I guess we’ll find out. Unfortunately I’m not exactly feeling up to anything right now. This week has been brutal. I already knew that it would be on Sunday night, but I thought I could power through and come out on top. I was wrong. I crumbled. Tuesday and Wednesday were particularly awful (but I won’t go into that and depress everyone), and then work decided to rear its ugly head. On Thursday I was sent home around lunchtime so I could get some rest and come back at 10 PM to work overnight. I hate it when that happens. I did manage to get about five hours of good sleep during the day on Thursday, but then people decided to start texting me at 5:30 PM and I couldn’t fall asleep again. So working until 7 AM on Friday morning was a struggle. At least I was busy (sometimes with work, sometimes fooling around with my co-workers) during my whole shift or I would have been dragging even more. When I got home on Friday morning I didn’t even change clothes or wash my face before I fell into bed. I passed out for about six hours before I was able to rouse myself into any sort of wakefulness. The only good thing about my wacky schedule is that I didn’t have as much brainpower available to dwell on my troubles. That was helpful after how disastrous the beginning of the week was. Unfortunately it’s the weekend again and it’s hard to keep busy enough so that I don’t stress out about everything that’s going wrong in my life. And as the title of this post suggests, I’ve had a fitness backslide this week. I was doing so well with my workouts for a couple of weeks and it was really improving my mood, but I felt like I got hit by a freight train this week. I was too emotionally distraught to go to my spinning classes on Tuesday through Thursday, and then I missed my Friday morning class because unfortunately I didn’t get out of work in time to be there at 6 AM. Not good. Throw that on top of all the other stuff I’ve been dealing with this week and I was a very unhappy person. So when I found myself parked on the couch watching bad TV late last night I finally dragged myself to the gym to get some exercise. It was the best thing I did all week. Let’s hope I can keep it up. And let’s hope this upcoming week is better than the last one! I really don’t know if I can survive another one like that.

Chocolate chip cookies #11 plus

Chocolate chip cookies #11 plus: Based on Two Peas and Their Pod’s Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chunk Cookies. Baked on 2/17/13.

I’ve made coconut chocolate chip cookies three times now and they are amazing. They have proven to be a favorite amongst my co-workers, and I have grown quite fond of them myself. The coconut gives the cookies a delicious nutty flavor and it makes them wonderfully chewy. So this weekend when I found some leftover shredded coconut in my cabinet I decided to try something a little different. A while back I had pinned a recipe on Pinterest for chocolate chip cookies with toasted coconut so I decided to incorporate it into my favorite coconut chocolate chip cookie recipe (see recipe #11). (I have to admit that I didn’t follow the recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod because the amounts of some of the ingredients seemed odd. Like too much flour and not enough butter.) So I baked two cups of sweetened shredded coconut for about 8 minutes at 350 deg, stirring twice for even toasting, before adding it to the cookie dough. And added a little coconut extract (1/4 tsp) for good measure. And it was incredible. I ate more than my fair share of these cookies and I had several co-workers come back for seconds and thirds. So if you’re looking for a great variation on a classic chocolate chip cookie, look no further than these toasted coconut chocolate chip cookies!

Chocolate chip cookies #28

Chocolate chip cookies #28: Based on Picky Palate’s Brown Butter and Fleur de Sel Chocolate Chip Cookies. Baked on 1/25/13.

As I’m sure you’ve surmised, I’m still searching for the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. I’m definitely zeroing in on it, but I’m not quite there yet. So far I’ve determined that a couple of ingredients are essential in a good chocolate chip cookie – 1) browned butter, 2) sea salt, and 3) a mix of milk chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate chips. So when I tried this recipe for brown butter and fleur de sel chocolate chip cookies I was very excited to use all three of those ingredients to see how it would turn out. These cookies were really good! They are approaching perfection, but there was a bit too much flour for my taste. When I say “a bit” I mean just about 1/4 cup, so not very much. Everyone at work loved these cookies, though. I even sent half of them to DC with one of my co-workers, and the folks out there were very appreciative. Usually they complain that they just get to hear about the delicious desserts I make, but this time they got to eat some as well! These cookies were definitely instrumental in creating my perfect recipe, but I have at least one more iteration to try before I’m done. But I’m getting there! It won’t be long before I’m ready to share it.

Chocolate chip cookies #27

Chocolate chip cookies #27: Based on No. 2 Pencil’s Single Serving Size Chocolate Chip Cookies. Baked on 1/22/13.

Two delicious chocolate chip cookies – what could be better? Just enough to satisfy a craving, but no leftovers to tempt you to pig out on! It’s perfect. I love this recipe for several reasons – 1) I can use my much neglected small mixing bowl to whip up the dough, 2) I don’t have to drag my hand mixer out of the cupboard, and 3) I can eat the whole batch! I’ve made these cookies twice now and I’ve discovered that despite what the recipe says, they need to be baked for at least 10 minutes for them to be fully cooked in the middle. This makes the edges really crispy, but leaves the centers soft. Very tasty. So they’re easy to assemble, quick to bake, and perfect for a last minute dessert. Close to perfection. This might not win the prize for my favorite chocolate chip cookie (I’m still working on that recipe and I’ll be posting it soon), but it’s the one I turn to when I want an oven baked cookie ASAP. Delicious!

Chocolate chip cookies #26

Chocolate chip cookies #26: Based on No. 2 Pencil’s Chocolate Chip Cookie in a Cup. Baked on 1/22/13.

While my mental state is making it difficult to write anything more meaningful, I’m going to use this time to catch up on posting chocolate chip cookie recipes! Gotta find the silver lining, right? It’s not easy, but I’m trying. And what better remedy for a bad mood than a chocolate chip cookie that you can make in the microwave? I’ve tried a few cake-in-a-cup recipes that have been less than successful so I was skeptical about making a cookie in the microwave. Especially one that includes an egg (just the yolk, but still) because I’ve found that it makes microwave recipes really chewy and unappetizing. But imagine my surprise when this cookie-in-a-cup turned out surprisingly well! The cookie part is really tasty and the chocolate chips are warm and melty. Just what the doctor ordered when you find yourself craving something sweet and you’re unwilling to leave the house. As a side note, make sure you use good quality chocolate chips. The first time I tried this recipe I used some grocery store brand chocolate chunks that were who knows how old. It wasn’t pretty. Otherwise, I have nothing bad to say about this recipe! Give it a try!

Posting for the sake of posting

As you can tell, I didn’t post anything yesterday. I tried, I really did, but I wasn’t in a very good place emotionally so nothing I wrote was worth reading. And I didn’t want to post just for the sake of posting. I’m much less concerned with updating my webpage every day than I am with making its content worthwhile. Trust me, I have plenty of worthwhile things to say, but none of them were coming out yesterday because my head wasn’t in it. But I’m working on resolving some of the messiness in my life and I know there are better things are ahead, one way or another. They’re not here yet, but I’m looking forward to the change.

Tank tops

Let’s try this week of words thing again, shall we? Maybe I can avoid something like Valentine’s Day completely screwing everything up this time! No promises, though.

It was 80 degrees in the Los Angeles beach cities today! In February! Crazy! Usually it doesn’t even get that warm here in the middle of the summer. Looking at the forecast this heat wave isn’t going to last, though (the high will be in the 50s by Monday), so I took advantage of the unseasonably warm weather while I could. I wore a tank top without a sweater or sweatshirt over it for a change! Pretty wild, huh? I was looking good while running errands! I’ve never really been a big fan of tank tops because I don’t particularly like the way my arms look, but I’ve been making some changes recently. And some of those changes involve my wardrobe. (The changes are ongoing – my wardrobe needs some serious help.) Unfortunately I decided I wanted to start looking for tank tops back in December – definitely the wrong time of year for that! But I was glad that I bought a couple of good ones from Old Navy and Target when I was putting together an outfit for a Christmas party at a co-worker’s house. I wear jeans and t-shirts almost every day so it was nice to spruce myself up a little to socialize with folks outside of work. I might have gone so far as to wear a dress to the party, but it was cold that night! Since then I’ve accumulated several more tank tops and I regularly wear them on the weekends (usually with a sweater or sweatshirt, as I mentioned earlier). I’m on board with anything I can do to make myself feel good these days, and if wearing tank tops does that, I will exercise my right to bare arms!