Kit Kat Cookie Bars

I came to a terrifying realization this morning.  Finals are in three weeks.

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For those of you who haven’t gone through law school finals, they can easily be categorized as three hours of hell.  You’re given fact patterns and then go on a three hour typing-death-march as you try to get down everything you’ve learned (and in some cases haven’t learned).  By the end, you feel like you ran a marathon, finished all seven Harry Potter books, and just came through the worst stomach flu experienced by man.  It’s a mixture of accomplishment and slight nausea.

Perhaps worse than the tests themselves is the preparation.  Law students are slaves to this thing called an outline.  You basically take the basic shell of the class (with topics and such) and fill it with everything you’ve learned.  They’re a bitch, but necessary.  I don’t know if this is actually the truth or more due to the fact that my school basically said if you don’t outline you will fail out of law school and end up working the register at Goodwill.  Okay, they didn’t actually say that but the sentiment was there.  Either way, I’d never even consider going into a final without my outline.

I go through a distinct pattern of emotions when I outline.  I start out being really gun-ho because outlining means the semester is almost over, and that is reason for excitement.

This lasts for a few days, until it quickly turns into me realizing how much I’ve forgotten from the beginning of the semester.

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Which spirals into a pity party where I’m convinced that I know nothing and I’m going to fail all my classes.

This usually lasts for the duration of one episode of Gilmore Girls (my go-to freakout show) after which I remind myself that I am a smart and capable woman and overdramatic meltdowns should be reserved for people with reality shows.

I go back to outlining and wrestle through the material, vacillating between confusion and moments of clarity.

And then, a week or so later, the outline is complete.  And then memorization and practice tests begin.

Why did I go to law school, again?

Throughout all of this I have one constant companion.  Cookies.  There is nothing that pushes you through work more than knowing that you get a treat at the end. While this has created a Pavlovian desire for a cookie after finishing just about any task, I’m going to go ahead and say it’s worth it.

These cookies would be the PERFECT treat after a long afternoon of outlining.  A basic blondie jazzed up with some kit kat bars and chocolate chips.  I brought them to my SBA meeting last week, but luckily I had a few left for myself.

Kit Kat Cookie Bars

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Ingredients:

2 1/8 cup flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking solda

12 tablespoon butter, melted and cooled

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup Kit Kat Bars, chopped

1 cup milk chocolate chips

Directions

Heat oven to 325 degrees.  Spray a 9×12 baking dish with Pam – or you could be all baker-fancy and line it with parchment paper.  If you’re lazy like me, though, Pam will work just fine.

In a bowl combine the flour, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.  In a separate bowl mix together the butter and sugars.  Add in the egg, yolk and vanilla.  Next, pour in the flour mixture (one half at a time) and mix until combined.  Fold in the Kit Kat Bar pieces and chocolate chips.

Pour into the prepared baking dish and smooth the top with a spatula.  Bake for 27-30 minutes, until the edges are pulling away from the sides of the dish and the top is slightly firm to the touch.  Let cool completely before removing from the dish and cutting into bars.

Phillo Shells with Warm Apple-Cinnamon Chutney

This recipe was borne from a comedy of errors.  My initial dessert plan was to create an apple tart with some good ol’ frozen puff pastry dough.  For those of you unacquainted with frozen puff pastry – go and buy yourself some.  It’s the perfect way to create really quick, but still impressive, desserts on the fly.

Anyway, I went to my grocery store and rounded up all the ingredients, only to find that the store was out of puff pastry dough.  After some hemming and hawing – and making someone check in the back freezers – I resorted to frozen phillo shells.  I figured I could make some sauteed apples to go in the shells and then top it with a cannoli cream I’d made before.

My thought was solid.  My forthcoming execution decidedly was not.  First, I went with this cinnamon-apple chutney I’d used as a topping for pork.  I neglected to think that the flavors that meld well with pork might not work so well for a dessert.  Thankfully, that mistake was easily remedied with a little extra sugar.

Then I decided to whip the cannoli cream by hand.

On a scale of one to really-stupid-idea, it was pretty high up there.  After about five minutes and my generally unused arm throbbing, I caved and got out my mixer.  Considering the mixer is handheld and the only additional thing I’d have to wash were the two little beaters, I don’t really understand why I decided to do it by hand in the first place.

Anyway, miraculously the dessert came together, and considering that all of my friends had seconds I am going to go out on a limb and say it was a success.  In all seriousness, without my little hiccups, this is a very simple and fun dessert.  The phillo cups are different and the leftover apple chutney is great served with some plain ricotta.

Phillo Shells with Warm Apple-Cinnamon Chutney 

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Ingredients:

1 package of phillo dough shells

3 apples, peeled and chopped

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 cup craisins

1/3 cup ricotta

1/3 cup heavy whipping cream, plus 2 tbsp

2 tbsp powdered sugar

Directions:

In a saute pan, melt the butter and add the apple.  Saute under browned, roughly 8 minutes.  Add the cinnamon, sugars, craisins and apple cider vinegar and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook for 5-8 minutes.  Set aside.

In a bowl mix together the ricotta and 1 tbsp heavy whipping cream.  In a separate bowl whip together the remaining heavy whipping cream and powdered sugar.  Whip until stiff peaks have formed, and then fold in the ricotta mixture.

To assemble, spoon the apple-cinnamon chutney into the phillo shells and then top with the ricotta cream.

Roasted Pumpkin Pasta with Thyme Browned Butter Sauce

So, I watched 26 episodes of Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23 in four days.  I don’t know whether this is something to brag about or only admit at the deepest rungs of depression.  I’m going to go with the former, mostly because that show is amazing and I like to think my unflagging dedication to TV shows is indicative of other redeeming qualities like loyalty and the ability to block out all distractions when necessary.

Anyway, I watched a few episodes when it aired but then I sort of fell off the bandwagon because it was college, and I was applying to law school, and blah blah blah.  The truth is that I’m just awful at watching shows if they’re not on Netflix.  It’s too hard to follow a regularly scheduled show with all my other school/life commitments.  Upon my fevered rewatch, I experienced once again the charm and absolute genius of Don’t Trust The B.

1.  James Van Der Beek plays James Van Der Beek.

He plays this super cheesy version of himself that just makes you love him.  I didn’t love James Van Der Beek after watching Dawson’s Creek.  In fact, I sort of irrationally hated him based off my disdain for Dawson.  After Don’t Trust the B, I love the Beek from the Creek.

2.  James Van Der Beek has THE SASSIEST personal assistant named Luther.

   

   

He also, apparently, is the worst wingman.

3.  Chloe is the girl we all know and hate/love.

Chloe is pretty much the worst.  Even worse, is the fact that we all have one in our lives that we love and tolerate.  I have one.  You have one.   We all have a Chloe.

4.  The Sexiest Man Alive Episode

They have an actual tie-in episode with People’s Sexiest Man Alive issue.  This was the first time I actually read an article in that magazine instead of just staring at all the man candy.   Kudos to you, People Magazine.

5.  All the Dawson’s Creek References.

    

With James Van Der Beek literally in the show, it’s no surprise there is some mention of Dawson’s Creek.  The great thing is that they use the show PERFECTLY.   Whether it’s an attempted reunion or James using it to get girls – every time the show is used it’s for a specific and hilarious reason.  It’s not a fallback joke when nothing else is on the page.  It’s THE JOKE OF ALL JOKES.

I’m sad this show is over but at least it’s on Netflix so I can get my bitch-ey fix any time I want!  You know what else I can do?!  Make this roasted pumpkin pasta with thyme browned butter sauce!

I made this with the harvest apple and spinach salad earlier this week and I already want to make it again.  Roasted squash, wilted spinach and pasta are tossed with thyme-scented browned butter.  It’s an elegant dinner that makes your Monday night feel a little bit fancier without too much effort.

I ended up using squash because my grocery store didn’t have pumpkins.  It worked out fine, so if you can’t find pumpkin feel free to sub in another squash.

This is a great dinner to share with friends and family.  Or to eat alone while watching endless episodes of Netflix.  Really, either way you’re winning.

Roasted Pumpkin Pasta with Thyme Browned Butter Sauce

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Ingredients

1 squash, peeled and chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

salt/pepper

1 lb pasta, preferably orchiette

8 oz baby spinach leaves

8 tbsp butter

1 tbsp fresh thyme

dash of fresh nutmeg

salt/pepper

parmesan for serving

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Roast the squash until fork tender – 20 or 25 minutes.  Remove and let cool.

Boil the pasta.  While it boils, heat a sauté pan over medium heat.  Add the spinach and a few drops of water.  Cover and cook until just wilted, 1-2 minutes.  Remove to a separate plate.

For the sauce, heat a sauté pan over medium heat and add the butter.  Cook the butter until it browns, stirring occasionally.  Make sure to watch carefully because the butter burns quickly.  Once burned stir in the thyme and nutmeg.  Remove from heat and add the spinach and squash.  Stir together and then add to the pasta.

Serve with parmesan cheese.

Source:  Annie’s Eats

Harvest Apple and Spinach Salad

In an effort to have more dinner parties I invited a group of my friends over Monday night for dinner.  We have these dinners about once a month, the eight or nine of us rotating who hosts, and they are some of my favorite nights at school.  I have some of the greatest friends out here and they make my living in the middle of cornfields more than tolerable.  Monday night’s festivities included:

1.  Perusing stalker-net, which is part of our school’s intranet where there are directory photos of all the students.  Stories are IMMEDIATELY better when you can go and pull up the photo of whoever you’re talking about.

2.  A dramatic reading of FB messages between me and this guy at school.  I am still laughing over this.

3.  A big ol’ bottle of wine.

It was a great night with good friends and good food.  I served the meal in three courses because I firmly believe that courses make any meal better.  It creates a rhythm to the meal and ensures that each dish gets its proper attention.  I also think it’s fancy.

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While there were three courses, you’re only getting the first one right now.  I started off the meal with a Harvest Apple and Spinach Salad from Annie’s Eats.  I’ll admit right away that I didn’t make this with spinach.  I’m not a big fan of it by itself in salads so I used mixed greens instead.  I think it still worked pretty well with all the other ingredients.

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This salad was the first time I made sugared nuts and now I want to do it all the time.  Granted, this means I am taking a moderately healthy food and turning into something that would make Paula Deen proud.

I might be okay with that.

Harvest Apple and Spinach Salad

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Ingredients:

For the dressing:

¼ cup minced sweet onion
3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp. white wine or champagne vinegar
2 tbsp. sesame seeds
Pinch of paprika
2 tbsp. sugar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil

For the almonds:
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
¾ cup sliced or slivered almonds
1 tbsp. sugar

For the salad:
10 oz. baby spinach leaves, washed and dried OR mixed greens
2 medium apples, cored and thinly sliced
4 oz. crumbled feta cheese

Directions:

Combine all the dressing ingredients up to the olive oil in a jar and mix together.  Slowly add the olive oil, whisking until emulsified.  Keep in the refrigerator until ready to use.

For the almonds, melt the butter in a sauté pan and then add the almonds.  Let the almonds cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly toasted.  Pour in the sugar and mix.  Remove from heat and let come to room temperature.

To assemble the salad, plate the spinach or mixed greens.  Arrange the apples nicely on top and sprinkle on the feta cheese and buttered almonds.  Finish with a healthy drizzle of dressing.

Garlic Roasted Potatoes

The worst thing happened to me yesterday.  I moved my yoga practice up to my bedroom because I didn’t know when my roommate would be back from school and I didn’t want her to walk in on me with my butt up in the air or something.  Anyway, I’m in my bedroom and as I’m chillin’ in boat pose – and by chillin’ I mean constantly checking my laptop screen to see if I can stop – I notice a spider climb up my window underneath the blinds.

For a second I tried to convince myself it was on the other side of the window, but I wasn’t fooling anyone – especially not myself.  So, there I was in boat pose, trying to decide whether or not I should go over and pull the blinds up to kill the thing or just leave it be.  The problem is that it probably would have jumped or something if I moved the blinds, and nothing terrifies me more than spiders MOVING.  So, I just let it be.  But not before firmly telling the spider, “You stay over there now.”

I’m hoping it listens.

I’m distracting myself with food, because when all else fails I can depend on a nice plate of food to take my mind of the eight-legged-monster making my room its new home.

So, I made this Guinness Beef Stew earlier this week and it was so good that I almost forgot about the garlic roasted potatoes I made on the side.  But then I remembered them and it was like Christmas morning.

I don’t make potatoes often, but when I do I go all out.  No plain baked potatoes for this girl.  No simple mashed ones, either.  I like to add a little pizzazz to my taters.  These potatoes are full of pizzazz.  And garlic.  And carb-ey goodness.

Potatoes FTW.

Garlic Roasted Potatoes

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Ingredients

3 lbs potatoes

6 cloves of garlic, minced

1/4 cup olive oil

salt/pepper

2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Directions

Halve or quarter the potatoes and put them in a bowl.  Add the other ingredients and mix until all the potatoes are coated.  Pour onto a baking sheet and bake 45 minutes to an hour, turning the potatoes over once or twice.

Source:  Ina Garten