Don’t Hold The Wall

 Who loves pie?  I’m sorry, that’s a silly question?  What I should be asking is, who doesn’t love pie?  If you answered “OOh, me!  I don’t like pie!” – get out.  Just go.  For those of us left that love pie (because what human being doesn’t??), let’s talk.  When I think pie, I think summer fruit pies with whipped cream or ice cream.  Yet here we are in the middle of winter, still shoveling ourselves and our cars out of the two feet of snow that got dumped on NYC (34 inches in Queens!).  I also just recently celebrated by 3rd anniversary of Single Girl Cookies on the 17th.  Three years, over 6,000 chocolate chip cookies – what’s next?  Combine those two things and you’ve got an antsy, jonesin’-for-something-new-and-different Single Girl just dying to create.  

I got it in my head that I wanted to make something with a chocolate chip cookies crust but wasn’t sure what.  I thought maybe a cheesecake with a cookie bottom?  Or maybe a layered brookie (brownie/cookie combo)?  I also kept coming back to my favorite pairing with chocolate, which is peanut butter.  When I was a kid, my first job was as a busser at a local Mennonite influenced/themed restaurant, Miller’s.  And they made the best peanut butter chocolate mousse pie with the graham cracker crust that I used to buy a slices of with my hard earned, next to nothing busser tips, and take it home and label it with my name to make sure nobody else ate it.  It seemed only natural that my creation involve peanut butter mousse.  

I finally settled on pie form, thinking, “If this works, it’s going to be DA BOMB”.  Yes, it’s so good, I don’t even care that I still use outdated slang.  And it’s so good that I wanted to share the recipe with you so you could experience the amazingness for yourself!

  

Chocolate Chip Cookie Peanut Butter Mousse Pie

Using your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe (you didn’t think I was going to give mine away, did you??), press a thin layer of dough onto the bottom and sides of a pie plate like you would a graham cracker crust.  Remember, this dough will rise slightly, so be sparing with your dough distribution. I used slightly less than half of my batch of dough and had quite a significant crust. I made cookies with the other half that I gave away to that week’s drop spot. I used a 9 inch vintage Pyrex pie plate, set the oven for the standard 350, and let it bake for about 20-25 minutes.  Never having done this before, I liked that it was clear glass and I could see when it was done.  I’d recommend making the crust a good 2 hours before you make the mousse.  

Peanut Butter Mousse

I used (read: modified and partially followed) a recipe from Better Homes and Gardens, but didn’t follow all the fussy parts of the directions, like “using a chilled bowl and chilled beaters…”  Here’s what I did.

Ingredients

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 8 oz package cream cheese

2/3 creamy peanut butter

2 tbsp milk

1/2 cup confectioners sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla
Directions

1. Using an electric beater, beat heavy cream in a small bowl until you start to see soft peaks form.

2. In a separate large bowl, beat softened cream cheese, peanut butter and milk until combined.  Add in vanilla and confectioners sugar, mix until combined.  Add in whipped cream until mixture is smooth (and delicious).  Now is a good time for beater licking.

3. Making sure your cookie crust is mostly cooled, pour peanut butter mousse into your crust, filling to the top.  Chill at least two hours, thought it’s best left overnight.  

4. Invite your friends over for pie!

  

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My Favorite Vanilla Cupcakes Recipe

When I was growing up, my mother would bake all the time. I mean, all the time.  That’s how our Famous Heitmann Cookies got to be so famous.  They went everywhere with us, to every function.  And if they didn’t, well…there was some hell raised, or at least a half-joking-but-not-really comment like, “What, no cookies this time??  Come to find out, my mother bakes as a form of stress relief.  That is how she unwinds after a long and stressful day.  Is it a coincidence that I recall a big spike in cookie making around my adolescent years?  I think not.

For me, baking has always been a fun thing to do, although not necessarily a stress reliever.  The dishes, the clean up, the having to have self control to not eat everything… you know how it goes.  But yesterday, I finally got how my mother feels about baking being stress relief.  I had just come from the post office in an attempt to retrieve some packages that I’d been waiting on.  I’d elaborate, but I’m sure I need to say no more – you’ve all been to the post office before.  When I got back home, the only thought in my head was “MAKE VANILLA CUPCAKES”.  So like any Single Girl that has her priorities straight, I made myself a nice ice cream sandwich, ate that, then got down to business. 🙂

A week or so ago, I posted a many-tweets-long recipe for vanilla cupcakes which is my go to recipe.  Along with that tweet, I promised to publish a blog post with the recipe in a concise format, not spread throughout 6 or 7 tweets, haha.  I love a good, rich vanilla anything – ice cream, cupcake, pastry, etc.  Vanilla often gets a bad rap for being bland, but before that, we had practically nothing!  Vanilla was an exotic spice at one time, and was used not only for food consumption, but also as a beauty product.  Women used to dab a bit of vanilla behind their ears when perfume was too expensive.

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I found the base to this recipe on allrecipes.com and like I do with everything, I tweaked it a bit.  This recipe is the one I go to for making my cakes.  It s perfect on its own, does well with fun additions like fruit, sprinkles, or whatever else comes to mind.  It’s also SO super easy, and just as easy as making a box cake, yet a thousand times better.  Enjoy, happy baking!

Single Girl’s Go-To Vanilla Cake Recipe

1/2 cup butter (one stick)

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup whole milk/half and half/heavy cream

Mix the first four ingredients together, adding one at a time.  Because I’m a time saver (read: lazy and don’t want to wash extra dishes; but then again, I am saving water by not adding more dishes, so I’m also a doing good things for the planet!  Go me!) I don’t bother with mixing my dry ingredients in a separate bowl, especially when there are only two.  For this I put both of them on top of what’s already in the bowl, then I make sure I mix really well.  Now, for the last ingredient, I like to se whatever is richest on hand.  Today it was half a half.  I’ve used heavy cream (my favorite) and whole milk (also very good).  Mix that in, pour into 12 cupcake liners and bake at 325 for 15-20 minutes.  You can also use a 9 inch round pan and bake at 325 for about 25 minutes.  Ovens are so tricky, so it’s best to keep an eye on it and test when you think it may be done.  Your tester or knife should come out mostly clean when checking in the middle.

Let them cool and frost!  I like to use my buttercream on these, and the recipe is below.  This is a good thing to whip up while the cupcakes are cooling after you’ve done all your dishes.

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Vanilla Buttercream

Half stick of butter (softened)

1 lb bag of confectioners sugar

3 or 4 teaspoons of vanilla (to taste)  I like mine strong

Sometimes I add a little bit of water to get things going when mixing.  Mix ingredients together and hope you don’t make too big of a mess!

And of course the last step is to share with friends and enjoy!  So easy, right?  Shoot me a message one any one of my social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) – I’d love to see photos of your finished creations and hear how your baking experiences went!

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Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

We are in the throes of lazy summer. You feel it, I know you do.  It’s that odd blend of New York feels at this point – it’s August and we’re all hot as hell, but starting to feel that bite in the air telling us that fall is right around the corner.  We say things like, “There’s still almost a month until Labor Day!” and rush around to try to cram as much summer in as we can.  But on those days off, I feel like just being lazy in my air conditioned apartment instead of being ambitious and going to the beach.  And because it’s August, most days I literally do not know what day it is.  Given a moment of thought, I can usually come up with the day, but date?  Forget about it.

What I can tell you is I’ve had a few really awesome days that my brain lumps together as one moment in time experience, starting with my cookie drop on Thursday.  I finally, FINALLY made it to Advanced Radiological Imaging on Astoria Blvd and 30th Street.  I thought they closed at 5, but when I got there at 4:55, there was a waiting room full of people, one person at the window, me, then another woman walked in with her (assumed) son right after me to check in.  So I’m waiting there for the person n front of me to finish up and just as she does and I get to the window, something inside me compels me to say “Uh, you know what?  I”m going to let this woman behind me go first.  She’s clearly a patient and I’m going to take a moment, so…” and let this other woman and her son (let’s just assume it’s her son and go with that) step up to the window.

Have you ever been in a situation where as it’s happening, you are a little incredulous and think, how this would’ve been different if I didn’t just make that choice?  Sure, we’ve all been there.  Well, i watched this and thought, “Good thing I let her go first.  This poor guy’s gonna need a cookie after she gets done.” This woman proceeded to step up to the window and give this guy the biggest Attitude, and I mean attitude with a capital ‘A’.  First off, she assumed the little information she gave him was enough to find her.  He asked for the proper paperwork and she balked.  He finally found her in their system and she said, “See, you had it there, you just had to look for it.”  Strike one.  Really strike two because she approached him with an attitude.

So the kind gentleman at the window proceeds to type at his keyboard and try to get her and her son registered when he asks, “Do you speak Spanish?”  Now, to be fair to him, this woman had an discernible accent and could have been from a number of backgrounds.  It was also in a part of the neighborhood that I know has a high Hispanic population, and maybe based on her name?  I don’t know, but given that there is a high percentage of New Yorkers that speak Spanish as their first language, or are fluent in both Spanish and English, I thought it was a fair question.  And having been on the customer service on of things before, I would bet my life his question was asked in an attempt to make her experience easier and more pleasant.  She clearly did not think so.

Upon hearing those ‘oh-so-foul’ words, she recoiled and said, “What is it your business is I speak Spanish??  I don’t speak Spanish!!  It’s none of your business!  What does it matter!  I don’t speak Spanish!!  That’s none of your business!”  As my eyes darted around the room, I could tell I was not the only one there that thought, 1. This reaction was a bit much, and 2. Whoa.  Crazy Lady.

Strike Three.

She and her son step away to fill out whatever paperwork in needed and I step up to the window, cookies in hand, big smile on my face, and eyes wide from what I’ve just seen.  “Hi!” I said, “I think I’ve come at just the right time.  I’m here to deliver these cookies to you!”  And so I began making a connection.

Being that it is a medical office afterall, I didn’t want to take too much of anyone’s time, but didn’t want to drop and dash.  I found out the kind man’s name is Eddie and we had a novel’s length conversation with just our eyes about what just went down.  I gave him my spiel, the other ladies behind the window seemed pretty excited about the cookies, and I left feeling like some actual good had been done.

As I made my way to the N train, the full weight of what just happened hit me.  I had just witnessed karma in all her glory work right in front of my eyes, and instantaneously.  What had prompted me to let that nasty woman go ahead of me?  And I’m pretty sure I truly made Eddie’s day because I was there with a plate of cookies after he was berated, restoring his faith in the kindness of fellow human beings.  He had done the right thing, was kind to her, and did his job well, and was, in a way, rewarded with cookies.  And as quickly as I had that previous thought, I thought, “Holy shit.  Karma can just as easily go the other way.”  I think I experience a lot of goodness in my life because I do good.  Not to say that bad things don’t still happen, and believe me, they do.  But I truly believe good things happen to good people.

I have to tell you, the rest of my interactions with people in the customer service side of things that day were stellar.  I mean, above and beyond amazing.  I think people can read and feel my positive energy and react positively to it.  You may think I’m nuts, but try it for a day.  i dare you.  You will be rewarded in ways you never imagined.

Does anybody really know what time it is?  Does it really matter?  As long as you are doing the right thing, making the good choices, and living your life as best you can, I don’t think it does.  For now, I’m continuing to move forward, taking it one day at a time, and in my immediate future, that means finding out where Advanced Radiological Imaging will send me.  Stay tuned…