Uncharted

Friends forging a course together through the unexpected

Lazy Cake Cookies June 11, 2013

Filed under: Kelly — Uncharted @ 11:03 pm
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I’ve noticed this post has become quite popular lately and it looks like most of you are coming from Pinterest.  I’m a little embarrassed because it is literally one of the shortest laziest posts I’ve ever written and I write a post every Tuesday for the past 2-3 years!  A little ironic don’t you think?  Anyway, if you haven’t visited before, this blog actually has four contributors and I’m just one of them.  Please check out our other posts.  We write about travel, DIY projects, our careers,aspirations, share personal stories and of course recipes!  If you have a particular interest, just click on one of the key words located in the green word cloud to the right.  If you are visiting us from a mobile device, the cloud will be near the bottom of the page.  Welcome to all and I hope you enjoy Uncharted.

~Kelly

June is a very busy month, something every weekend and just a lot going on.  So when I found a pin for ‘Lazy Cake Cookies’ on Pinterest it sounded perfect for me.  When I clicked on the pin it brought me to a website called I’m a Lazy Mom, which I’m not {a mom I mean}.  Lazy is another question altogether.  Below is the recipe.  I swear to you, I am the worst baker and it was still easy for me to do!

Ingredients:
1 box yellow or white cake mix- I used Funfetti
2 eggs beaten
5 Tbs melted butter
2 Cups M&M’s or mini chocolate chips- I used mini chocolate chips {because that is what was in the pantry}

Mix together:

prebake

Put in a greased 9×13 pan and bake at 350 for 20 min!

baked

Then cut them up and enjoy!  I made these on Sunday and already about half the pan is gone.  I had a little help, but I need to be careful.  These are so easy to make it’s dangerous.  Next time I’ll make sure I have somewhere to take them!

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A Taste of Home December 10, 2012

I know, it’s been forever since I last posted!  I told myself when we started the blog that I wouldn’t let this happen, but well, life happens! And even though blogging is something I really enjoy, I found myself bogged down by life.  But what better time than to cheer up and lighten up than the holidays?

Even though I’m a grown woman of 27, my mom still sends me gifts for St. Nick’s day.  I love it.  It warms my heart, plus who doesn’t love getting something other than bills and coupons in the mail?! So when I received my St. Nick’s package this week in the mail, I was thrilled to find Christmas PJs, an evergreen candle, a beautiful leaf ornament, and Frango mints.  I’m a huge fan of Frangos.  They remind me of Chicago and old school Marshall Fields.  These particular Frangos were the Limited Edition Candy Cane Frangos, even better than the norm!

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Jonathan’s sweet tooth has been growing lately, particularly in the evening.  So tonight when he told me that he had a hankering for sweets, I decided I wanted to come up with something that incorporated my delicious St. Nick’s Day sweets.  I combined a few different recipes I found online, added my own twists, and of course my Frangos…and these chocolate Frango cookies turned out absolutely delectable!

Here’s what you need…

6 tbsp. butter, roughly chopped

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup chocolate chips

2 eggs

1 1/3 c. flour (I used the extra 1/3 cup because I’m baking in high altitude, but if you’re closer to sea level, go for 1 cup even)

1/4 c. cocoa powder

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

10 (or so) roughly chopped Frango Candy Cane Mints

Melt the butter and chocolate chips on low.  Set aside and let cool.

Combine the sugar and eggs, and your butter/chocolate mixture once it cools.

Add in all the other ingredients.

Roll into 1 inch balls and slightly flatten onto a cookie sheet (I like to put my cookies on top of a sheet of parchment paper, since it gives them a perfect, soft cook without scorching the bottoms).

Cook at 350 for 8-10 minutes.

Thoroughly enjoy with a big glass of milk!

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Happy Holidays!!!

 

A Very Homemade Holiday January 7, 2012

I wish I could have posted this earlier…but to be honest, this is one of the reasons I haven’t posted in a few weeks!  I was doing all this intense crafting and home-making of things for the holidays, but couldn’t show them to you yet, because I hate ruining good surprises, and many of them were gifts I was giving to some of my co-authors or some of our readers.

Moving out to Denver this year has been a wonderful experience, but returning home to Chicago for the holidays is now much more pricey than it used to be when I could just hop in my car and drive 30 minutes to the suburbs.  But if you’ve ever met me (and let’s be honest, even if you haven’t but have read this blog a few times) you know that 2 things I can’t give up are making others happy and crafting!  So since my purse strings were a little tight this year when it came to presents, I decided that I would do my best to create pretty and useful homemade gifts.

First on the list was when my friend Krista and I had a ‘throw-back craft night.’  It consisted of making all kinds of crafts we used to make when we were younger: fuse beads, loop weaving looms, friendship bracelets and, shown below, shrinky dinks.  Now obviously some of these crafts were more for our own entertainment than to actually gift people, but we did use a model I had seen at a little Denver boutique to create earrings out of shrinky dinks and also turn our creations into some hand crafted gift tags.  Until then, I had forgotten how much fun I had as a child crafting with my friends at sleepovers…I felt like I was 13 again haha.

Shrinky dink tags and earrings in progress

Next on my list was creating something original for some family members.  I knew I wanted to use my new sewing machine for something exceptional, so I came up with holiday throw pillows.  It’s a nice decorative item that you can bring out for the Christmas season that not everyone has and I felt like (with my thus rather limited sewing skill set) I could create in a way that would look Crate & Barrel-bought.  I made the pillows as gifts for my parents, Jonathan’s grandparents, and a special Indiana University for my brother to take back to his college apartment with him.

Pillows in the making!

The finished products

Finally, 2 days before Christmas, my brother Sam and I completed our annual cookie-baking extravaganza.  We bake my great-grandmother’s 5 traditional holiday recipes every year: butter, peanut butter, crescent, toffee squares, and oatmeal chocolate chip, place them in fun tins, and give them as Christmas gifts to friends and family.  Everyone seems to love them, particularly the people who knew GG and had the pleasure of experiencing her phenomenal baking!

GG's famous holiday cookies

I’d say I was able to give everyone on my list a good Christmas on a budget.  And the gift-giving experience was much more fun for me this year, since every present I gave had a little love in it.

 

Sugar Fix April 27, 2011

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 5:35 pm
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When traveling Europe in college, I fell in love with “bäckereis”, also known as bakeries. Some of my favorite meals were made from buying fresh bread in the morning for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or grabbing a pain au chocolat for breakfast.

A Complete Chocolate Model of Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche @ a Bakery in Berlin

Unfortunately the States aren’t exactly known for bakeries. Coffee chains offer pastries in the morning to go with your favorite cup of joe. Big box grocery stores line the shelves with your choice of gooey white bread or wheat. But I’m still looking for my pain au chocolat.

Luckily, I’ve found a few nifty bakeries in Chicago where I can get my sugar fix. Here are a few of my favorites:

Sweet Mandy B’s in Lincoln Park: a great place to pick up a cookie, toffee bar or cupcake at a reasonable price. Plus it is in a fun neighborhood to walk around when the weather is nice.

More in the Loop: in need of a classy, sophisticated cupcake drive by? This is your place for quick and easy service when you’re craving an upscale flavor. A great place for special occasions since it’s a little on the spendy side.

Oak Park Bakery Inc in Oak Park: German chocolate cake please! Sarah bought a birthday cake for me two years ago from this place and I am still raving about it. They also have a wonderful selection of sweet treats.

Kirschbaum’s Bakery in Western Springs: the smiley face cookie is the bomb. Yes, I said and wrote the bomb. That is how good it is. You haven’t experienced a cookie until you have tried one. I don’t care what you say.

Molly’s Cupcakes in Lincoln Park: looking for a relaxing place to catch up with friends and you don’t want to go to Starbucks? This great neighborhood cupcake bakery gives patrons a cozy place to enjoy a fabulous tasting cupcake in a homey environment.

Weber’s Bakery in Chicago: Need a cake layered with strawberries the size of large eggs? Have a hankering for some traditional German poppy seed cake? Or how about rye bread? You can’t beat the tasty treats at Weber’s.

Do you have any favorite places to add?

 

Excel + Recipes = Cookie Spreadsheet December 22, 2010

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 6:09 pm
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There is a “Cookie Master List” Excel file on my desktop. Last year was the first run rockin’ the spreadsheet idea and it helped me immensely keeping up to date with yet another favorite holiday tradition – baking.

Baking Gets Organized!

Created in late November, this year’s spreadsheet is a combination of the tried and true plus a few newbie recipes. The idea of the spreadsheet came from my need to organize all the recipes I want to use – whether they’re in a variety of Penzey’s magazines, my Betty Crocker Cook Book or online at AllReceipes.com – I’ve got one location of where to find them.  The other reason is that it helps me schedule my time better between the crazy holiday schedules of work, basketball, and of course, family.

Even before the spreadsheet, my love for baking started as a child – much like my love for cooking. As a kid I loved spending Saturday and Sunday afternoons in December tossing flour around the kitchen with my mom.  Together, we would create a medley of sugar cookies, peanut butter cookies, chocolate chip cookies, turtles, mints, pretzels and more! The smells of vanilla, butter and almond would even bring my Dad in from watching football to sneak a cookie or two from the cooling rack.

Once all the baking was done, my mom would pull out Christmas-themed plates from the cupboard and fashion her “special cookie plates”. Utilizing strategic plating skills, she would create, and still does create, beautiful masterpieces of cookies that are distributed to my parent’s’ neighbors, and our close family and friends.

Since I’ve moved out of my parents home, I’ve tried to copy my mom’s “special cookie plates”…hence the excel file. I like to spread the joy of the holiday via cookies to my neighbors, friends, co-workers and family members as well.

The Official 2010 Cookie Plate!

I’m still working on a building a reputation like my mom – but I figure I have a few more decades to make it perfect, just like her.

 

 
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