Thursday, August 27, 2009

there's beauty in the breakdown

I finally did it. I broke down and entered my credit card number into the iTunes Store. And I made my very first purchase. It was Imogen Heap's Ellipse, and it cost me $12.99 for the brand-new, deluxe-edition, 26-song album. Since buying the tracks, and instantly receiving them, importing them into my library and uploading them onto my iPod, I have been listening on repeat. Her music is so interesting, as is her voice - not like anything else out there right now. The entire album is both uplifting and haunting, if that's possible. Plus, my deluxe version includes all the regular songs sans lyrics - 13 completely instrumental tracks. Love.

So now that I've bought my first iTunes album, I'm afraid I won't be able to stop. As I browsed the store, I found artists and songs I wanted; I needed. And since iTunes uses "1-Click," it's just so darn easy to buy buy buy. And then I'll be broke broke broke.

It's a good thing I have restraint, because I could have easily bought 5-6 albums within 5-6 minutes last night. But I didn't. And I decided to set a limit: I will only allow myself to purchase one album per week at the most. Spending almost $50 a month on music is still a lot, but it's music - new music. And I love music. Music helps narrate my life, and I'm definitely due for some new narration.

Friday, August 14, 2009

world cookie domination

My Nanny absolutely loves red velvet cake. Personally, I've never understood the appeal - cake with red food coloring and cream cheese frosting (that I don't particularly like, anyway). What's the big deal? But since I love my Nanny, and want to bake something she'd really love, I decided to take the plunge into red velvet. Of course, since cookies are my forte, I had to take the beloved red velvet cake, and turn them into cookies somehow.

I found a few red velvet cookie recipes online, but only two that were from scratch - one from Paula Deen and one from Rachael Ray Magazine. I sort of combined these two ideas, made some lower-fat substitutes and came up with my own version of these recipes. My take on this classic doesn't have any icing or frosting, but you could definitely frost these with some homemade cream cheese frosting, if that's what you're into. Personally, I think they are just delicious on their own. Here's my cookie-loving take on red velvet cake:

Red Velvet Walnut Cookies

*makes 18-20 large cookies

1 1/3 cups flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3-4 handfuls chopped walnuts (or pecans)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons 1% milk
2 teaspoons apple cidar vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon red food coloring

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Mix together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt and chopped nuts
3. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time. Then beat in milk, vinegar, vanilla and food coloring. Once combined, add the dry ingredients to the wet. Mix until throroughly combined.
4. Drop batter onto greased cookie sheets by tablespoonfuls - batter will spread, so leave space between cookies.
5. Bake 10 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of cookies comes out clean. Cookies should be light and cake-like.
6. Cool on wire rack and enjoy!