When the Girl Scouts cookies are gone

It is October and my freezer is officially void of Girl Scouts Thin Mints. After trembling in fear, with a death grip on the empty box and a glazed look in my eyes, it hit me.

I have a recipe to make these cookies myself!

The winter months will indeed be heavenly, but this knowledge comes with heavy responsibility. Raise your right hand and repeat after me: “I understand that by using this recipe, it doesn’t absolve me of my duty to buy cookies from the neighborhood Girl Scouts in the spring.”

Because there is something magical about a little girl in pigtails and a sash that makes it perfectly reasonable to fork over $4 per box.

P.S. Do we get a  baking badge for this?

 

Homemade Thin Mints

Ingredients

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/3 cup milk (any kind)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp peppermint extract

Preparation

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, cocoa powder and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. With the mixer on low speed, add in the milk and the extracts. Mixture will look curdled. Gradually, add in the flour mixture until fully incorporated.
Shape dough into two logs, about 1 1/2 inches (or about 4 cm) in diameter, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for at least 1-2 hours, until dough is very firm.
Preheat oven to 375F.
Slice dough into rounds not more than 1/4 inch thick – if they are too thick, they will not be as crisp – and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cookies will not spread very much, so you can put them quite close together.
Bake for 13-15 minutes, until cookies are firm at the edges. Cool cookies completely on a wire rack before dipping in chocolate.

Dark Chocolate Coating
10-oz dark or semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup butter, room temperature

In a microwave safe bowl, combine chocolate and butter. Melt on high power in the microwave, stirring every 45-60 seconds, until chocolate is smooth. Chocolate should have a consistency somewhere between chocolate syrup and fudge for a thin coating.
Dip each cookie in melted chocolate, turn with a fork to coat, then transfer to a piece of parchment paper or wax paper to set up for at least 30 minutes, or until chocolate is cool and firm.
Reheat chocolate as needed to keep it smooth and easy to dip into.

Makes 3 1/2-4 dozen cookies.
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Baby Back Ribs and Texas Blackjack Sauce

I saw this recipe in Woman’s Day magazine in 2005. It immediately went in my Big Black Books and I prepared it for the first time that summer, my last in Chicago. I remember being very leery of the fact there was coffee (blech!) involved… but I quickly got over it. The unique flavor sent my palate over the top.

We fired up the grill on game day, spun the TV around so we could watch the action from outdoors, and every single Cubs fan who walked by en route to Wrigley Field made a comment about the divine smell. I joked that every game day I should sell ribs off the side of the balcony in brown lunch sacks.
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Fighter. Champion. Ironman.

Dear Baby Brother,

You have trained for this moment for seven years. We all have loved you and believed in you for the nearly 25 years since you took your first little breath.

As you prepare this morning for the biggest challenge of your life and to reach a level only the most elite of athletes attain, know these things and meditate on them.

The nervous moments ahead of competition are normal, even for Olympians. It’s OK to have them, just don’t allow them to win over precious space your head. Nervous moments mean you understand the adversities. They mean you not only want to slay the beast, but also that you respect it.

As our man Rocky said: “That’s how winning is done.”

Because you are ready. You are prepared. Say that to yourself as you walk to check in.

“I am ready. My body is ready. My mind is ready. I am prepared. My body is prepared. My mind is prepared.”

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Berry Bliss(ful) Cake with Lemonade Glaze

It’s that time of year: Berries, berries and more berries. Farmers markets, grocery stores, roadside stands… they’re everywhere. And I love it. My favorite is raspberries, which I suppose is because they taste like candy. Good, healthy candy.

The following recipe is from Gourmet magazine. I was mesmerized with the possibilities. Raspberries. Blackberries. Blueberries. Cranberries. Even plums or peaches. I liked it so much that I clipped, um, stole it… I ripped it right from the pages of an issue in a waiting room. I know, bad girl. But because I was bad, it went into my Big Black Books and you now know about an awesome cake. This moment was worth the risk.
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Love letters: I will take you to the Star Music Hall

As a writer, I feel that I best express myself on paper. When I start to talk about my emotions, even happy ones, I just cry. Really, I just wail when I’m put on the spot. The idea of being in vulnerable position is terrifying, even if there is a good chance my feelings will be reciprocated.

I can’t explain it. I suppose my nerves just turn into a giant ball of rubber bands.

A touching love letter creates a feeling that rarely can be matched. It doesn’t need to be an award-winner. The only thing it needs to be is honest.
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She even giggled through cancer

It has been said about many people after they pass away.

But when I say my aunt Pam was one of the nicest people on this Earth, it’s because I’m not sure if there’s life on other planets or she’d be immediately upgraded to the nicest person in the universe.

Pam giggled freely and had a childlike spirit about her.

She really did see the good in things, even when her body was being attacked by a horrible disease. She seemed grateful for every day, even over the course of the eight years of tests and medications and chemotherapy and surgeries and weeks and weeks and weeks in the hospital.

But she never stopped giggling. Continue reading

The stylish grandma: Tribal bib necklace

My great-grandma Hazel was always — I repeat, ALWAYS — dressed to the nines.

Her handbags rotated along with the shoes on her feet. Her hair was always perfectly coiffed, even if it was 6 a.m. and the only sign of movement was the bacon crackling in the cast-iron skillet.

At her old make-up vanity, she’d apply a little color to enhance her porcelain skin. Her wardrobe was impeccable. She had suits and blouses in every color of the rainbow. She had enough accessories — belts, scarves and costume jewelry — to make Carrie Bradshaw swoon.
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