Snickerdoodles, Studying, & Sunshine (with bonus chocolate!)

Happy Monday, folks!

I’m pleased as punch that summer has finally come to Rhode Island. If we’d gone the entire summer without a day over 90˚F, I probably never would have forgiven this state. Luckily this week promises to be hot, humid, and sunny – just the way I like it. I celebrated by doing some GRE studying (ugh) outdoors (yay) and then lounging in the pool with VeggaSis. My dad has some ridiculous packrat/collector tendencies, and I remembered that he’d gotten this huge Star Wars Clone Wars blow-up pool floatie thing years ago, so we convinced him to bring it out and pump some air into it. This sucker is AWESOME. Not only is it a fantastic floating lounge device, but it’s Star Wars themed! AND it has cupholders. ;) Love.

But before hitting up the pool, I baked some cookies. Normally I’m not a morning baker, but I made a batch of these snickerdoodles from Have Cake, Will Travel a few days ago, and my mom liked them so much that she requested I make a batch for her to bring to the big back-to-school bash she and all her teacher friends like to have at the end of August.

Nom nom nom!

That’s a photo of the first batch I made, but the second came out just as delectable-looking, despite a minor mishap wherein a quarter of my wet ingredients had a surprise meeting with the floor. These cookies are seriously delicious, soft and sweet and bite-sized. Needless to say, I doubled the recipe (which is halved on Have Cake, Will Travel, anyway) because 7 cookies just isn’t enough for this family. ;)

Yum.

Mmm. I also whipped up a batch of the Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies from VWAV for a get-together with friends a few nights ago, and these little chocolate lovelies were devoured in no time. I always alter this recipe slightly, substituting vegetable oil for the peanut oil and extra vanilla extract for the almond extract, to make it nut allergy-friendly. I’ve never actually made them with the original nutty ingredients, but the nut-free versions are little morsels of chocolaty perfection, chewy and moist and adorable.

Thanks, Isa!

The cookies in that photo have apricot and cherry preserves in their centers, but for the batch I made for my friends I just used cherry, since I think anything with a cherry and chocolate combination is automatically delicious and sophisticated.

And that wraps up today’s helping of cookie p0rn! I highly recommend both these recipes; they’re fast, easy, and – most important of all – delicious.

Ciao!

Brain Games, Wheat Berries, & Pudding for Breakfast

I’m happy to report that my grumblings about the weather seem to have driven it away, as yesterday was sunny and generally lovely. I celebrated the return to summer by taking Tamale on a nice long walk, which would have been perfect if half my neighbors hadn’t decided it was a perfect day to mow their lawns. You’ll probably think I’m a freak, but I severely dislike the smell of freshly cut grass, most likely because I think I’m allergic to it since I get headaches whenever I smell it. But whatevs – I’ll gladly take a headache if it means I get to feel the sun on my face and hear the delighted screams of youth as I walk past a group of children bouncing on a trampoline. Ah, summer.

Anyway, on to the healthiness. Let’s start with my healthy mind, shall we? I think you should all check out GamesfortheBrain, a fun little website with a nice selection of games to help wake up your grey matter and justify all the time you spend puttering around the internetz! “But, ma, I was developing my brain’s ability to adapt quickly to new situations!” Heh heh heh. Brilliant.

Although some of the games are kind of lame – “Marsmoney” seems better suited for some sort of elementary school exercise – others are fun. “What Was There?” is one of those pesky ones that asks you to memorize a scene and then questions you on its details. “Memocoly” asks you to repeat patterns of colors. There are also a bunch of word games, but I haven’t tried them yet – I’m too addicted to Word Warp to branch out just yet. ;) All in all, these are not incredibly mentally taxing, but they’re still a fun way to give your brain a mini-workout. And the little “brain tips” you get when you answer a question correctly challenge you to do more – try taking a shower with your eyes closed to let your other senses take over! Hmm… we’ll see about that one. So check it out and have some fun!

But I don’t spend all my time playing on the internetz – I’m workin’ on having a healthy body, after all! Last night I experimented with wheat berries for the first time. I know I came late to the wheat berry party, but better late than never, right? Anyway, I cooked these suckers according to the package and used them as a bed for some tofu I marinated in a variation of the Italian marinade from Vegan with a Vengeance and then grilled on the George Foreman grill my aunt gave our family. I’d never used ol’ George’s grill for tofu, but it worked pretty well, even if one piece was a little more blackened than grilled.

Tofu & wheat berries & veggies, oh my!

To be honest, I was a little wary of all the balsamic vinegar in Isa’s marinade – I kinda sorta despite vinegar in all forms – but I couldn’t taste the acidity of the vinegar once the tofu was cooked, so overall it was a success. Since it was a clean out the fridge kind of night – more on that in a later post – I had some leftover garlicky green beans and sliced the corn off a leftover half corncob for my veggie sides. Yum. The wheat berries were chewy yet tasty, and I felt satisfied knowing that I was filling my body with lots of fiber and protein.

While I was hunting around in the fridge for leftovers, I noticed a big container of cooked rice. “Aha!” I thought to myself, “I can do something with that!” After dinner, I took some soy creamer that needed to be used up and poured it over a big bowl of the rice. I added some dried cranberries (because raisins are nasty, y’all – they’re like big bloated bugs when they swell up in liquid!) and a bit of almond extract and let that bowl marinate overnight. This morning I heated the conglomeration up in the microwave and had Brekkie Rice Pudding!

Rice pudding for breakfast? You bet!

So it’s not the most gorgeous mixture in the world, but I thought it tasted pretty darn good. Next time I’ll add less almond extract, because the taste was *almost* a little too strong. But overall, I was pleased with my fridge emptying skillz.

Ciao!