Love and Cookies

Woah.

It’s been a while! But for good reason! My dating has stopped. Well, not really stopped I guess. I’m doing plenty of dating – but it’s just one guy. I’ve settled on one dessert! S’mores is quite wonderful. He gave me permission to post his pictures (but I’m keeping his name a secret. Plus I just love calling him S’mores…)

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Aren’t we cute?!

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Call me crazy, but I’m going to marry this guy. Mark my words, internet world!

A few weeks ago, I made S’mores some bacon bourbon chocolate chip cookies.

Bacon bourbon

He approved

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I’m not a huge bourbon fan, but they were certainly yummy! They actually smelled of bourbon more than they tasted like it. The saltiness of the bacon is the perfect combo with the sweet but tiny bit bitter dark chocolate

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S’mores

Just when I think I have my life figured out, my plans are disrupted.

I’m a planner. As much as I like spontaneity in my day-to-day life, I function best when I know there’s a long term plan in place. But I have found in my life, as much as I like having a plan, most of the time the plans don’t work out as I’d hoped. In fact, most things in my life so far haven’t gone according to plan. If you would have told me in high school that I would have gone to college in Iowa, lived in New York for 7 months, dropped 70 pounds to be a size 12, and still living with my parents when I’m 25, I would’ve thought you were crazy. But even though my plans haven’t exactly worked out like I thought they would, everything in my life has worked out in some way or another. I wouldn’t change it for anything.

This is exactly one of those times.

I had pretty much given up on dating for a while. Actually, I was quite content with being single. Over the holidays, I could do whatever I darn well pleased. No extra presents to buy, no worries about who was going where to which family gathering, no awkward encounters with strange extended family members (well, except my own of course). I’m registered for the UNI Overseas Recruiting Fair to possibly teach music overseas next year. At the same time, I’ve been applying for my Minnesota teaching license and jumping through hoops to finalize that process. I had decided to give all my time and energy into those endeavors and worry about dating after this school year when I knew for sure where I was going to be next year. I was single. And satisfied. I was pretty set I wasn’t going to date anyone (if at all) until June after school was out.

Then s’mores happened.

I got this message on my Plenty of Fish account

smores

Complete sentences. Correct grammar. Witty. Complementing my teaching (huge plus). Worth a profile click. I saw he was educated. Tall. Nice. Not drop dead gorgeous, but cute (which I like better anyways. Guys that are hot – and know that they’re hot – are nothing but trouble). His glasses were endearing and his description just seemed so genuine. He seemed normal. Then I saw where he was from – Mankato. 2 hours away.

Dang.

But I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and message him back.

Best decision I’ve made in a long time.

We instantly clicked. I can’t even really describe what it was, but we messaged back (and later texted) paragraph upon paragraph talking about our interests, education, upbringing, and lives thus far. We had so much in common it was scary. It was like I had known this guy for years. Conversation was never forced or awkward. He shared my sense of humor and sarcasm. So of course I wanted to meet him and see if the connection was real. I didn’t want it to be another strawberry cheesecake situation where there was no spark in real life.

I was taking the last of my MTLE’s (Minnesota Teacher Licensure Examinations) in Eagan on a Saturday – conveniently half way between us. We planned on meeting up after the test and grabbing dinner or drinks or something. Well, he suggested (in the non-creepiest way possible, I swear) that if things were going well we could continue the date at his place that night with some wine and Netflix. I told him I couldn’t because of church choir in the morning. S’mores said he totally understood. But as we continued texting, he offered up the fact that his Friday night was open as well if I wanted to come down there before the test Saturday. And so begins the story of the stupidest but best decision I have probably ever made.

I drove 2 hours to Mankato to meet a complete stranger at his house.

And I lied to my parents about it. (In my defense, dating under your parents’ roof is terribly tricky. They know exactly when you are and are not home and if your mom is anything like my mom, they want to know exactly where you are. All the time)

So mom, if you’re reading this: I’m sorry.

I’m still alive to tell about it. He wasn’t a Craigslist killer or total creep! The connection we had was instant. Even better than when we were messaging and texting. We went to this gorgeous winery and then out for dinner. There was never a lull in conversation or awkward silences. It just clicked. He didn’t try any moves on me, never made me feel uncomfortable, and he was just a genuinely sweet guy.

Saturday I went to my test (and passed) that afternoon and we met again for dinner at Surly Brewing Company’s new brewery in Minneapolis. And it was awesome. He’s awesome. That was 2 weeks ago, and I’ve definitely had some more s’mores. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

As you can see, my plans don’t always seem to go as expected. But I’m definitely not complaining

Spelling Bee

I seriously don’t know what some guys are thinking. Or maybe they’re not thinking, and that’s the problem.

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I truly believe that some of my 2nd graders can construct better sentences than this.

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Public service announcement to everyone out there: Grammar is your friend. Your English teachers are crying right now…

New Year, Third Wheel

Happy New Year!

In true Claire style, I rang in the new year just like last year – third wheeling it. Actually, I’ve only had 1 holiday ever with a significant other – sugar cookie and I were dating during Valentine’s Day last year. So being single for the holidays isn’t anything new. And it wasn’t that bad. I hang out with this couple quite a bit (they’re pretty awesome) and last year they invited me to see a local band in Cumberland. It was great! But I had one too many long islands and too much cheap champagne. Combine that with a round about on the way home – not pretty. This year was much better – no long islands and slightly tastier cheap champagne. I’d say that’s a win!

Of course, I had to make something to bring to their house. Perfect excuse to use my new Christmas present

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Isn’t she beautiful?! You know you’re old and lame when kitchen appliances make you happy…

But this recipe was a first. It’s a Claire original! I’ve been trying to think of a fun, exciting name, but nothing is coming to mind (I’m open for suggestions). It’s egg-less peanut butter chocolate chip cookie dough sandwiched between two Nilla wafers, dipped in melted chocolate and peanut butter.

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Oh yes. How can you even put a name to that deliciousness?!

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I followed this recipe for edible peanut butter cookie dough and just added a mess of chocolate chips. Scoop up some of that yummy-ness and squish it between two Nilla wafers. Dip half in melted chocolate (I added a spoonful of peanut butter too. Because you can never have enough peanut butter) and BAM. Chocolatey peanut buttery goodness.

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And of course the holidays wouldn’t be complete without some lonely guys. Woke up to a text message this morning from turtle cheesecake (haven’t heard from him since September) – a picture of the two of us from his phone and the caption “good times.” Sorry sir, you blew it.

I’ve also received a couple (lame/creepy/weird/boring) messages on both POF and OkCupid, but this one is by far my favorite from Plenty of Fish. It needs no explanation…

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Here’s to a year filled with dates, desserts, and chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate

Buttermilk Grapefruit Donuts

Tis the season for baking (and eating). I’ve definitely had more than my fair share of sweets the last week…or two…or three.

We were invited to a family friend’s house for Christmas Eve brunch. Along with beer candied bacon (this time made with seasonal Leine’s Cranberry Ginger Shandy – so good!) I decided to make buttermilk grapefruit donuts.

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Tasty!! They’re baked, not fried, and the tangy grapefruit zest makes these donuts much lighter than what you typically think when you think donuts.

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Then you don’t feel so bad about eating one…or two…

Strawberry Cheesecake

Blank Space by Taylor Swift has been my jam lately

“Got a long list of ex-lovers, they’ll tell you I’m insane”

Well, my list of ex-lovers is incredibly short, but list of ex-dates is long. And getting longer

(I hope they don’t think I’m insane)

A few weeks ago, I started talking with a guy from Tinder – Strawberry Cheesecake. The best word to describe him? Nice. He was just so nice. 

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One of my Tinder pictures is of me wearing my Superwoman Halloween costume, so bonus points for an original pickup line.

We had been talking casually for a few weeks. Super great guy! He actually likes his job (seems to be pretty rare I’m finding out), plays in a band, loves music, has a great sense of humor – what’s not to like? Finally our schedules aligned and we went on a date – dinner and a movie. He was as cute in person as his pictures (not as tall as I was hoping), maybe a little too soft-spoken for my tastes, but we had great conversation. Here was the problem:

I felt no spark.

Nothing.

I definitely thought he was attractive, but there was no attraction. Does that even make sense? But we had quite a bit in common and he was just so nice, I decided to give him another shot. We went out for dinner the next week.

Nothing

It was like I was having dinner with my brother. We talked for an hour and a half over margaritas and Mexican food but at the end of the night I was just feeling “eh” about the whole thing. After the date, I didn’t think about him hardly at all, I wasn’t excited about him texting me or even wanting to text him. After much deliberation, I decided to be upfront with him because I HATE it when guys just stop talking to you. At least give me some closure!

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He was SO NICE about the whole thing! I felt kind of bad. But like my dear friend Alison said “if you don’t want to touch his butt at the end of the night, he’s not the one”

I’ve got a blank space baby…

Baking Bonanza!

I may have gone a little overboard this weekend…

My high schoolers had their concert Sunday (which went very well) and I always bake treats for the next day. There is no better choir recruitment/retainment tactic for high schoolers than food! I also wanted to give some Christmas goodies to my accompanist (because she is AMAZING and saves my sorry terrible piano playing butt). To top it all off, I had the house to myself Saturday and Sunday. What better way to occupy some time than baking?

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I got so carried away I even forgot to take pictures of a lot of them. But that 6 hours spent dancing and cooking in the kitchen with my Pandora shuffle blasting was pretty fantastic.

Here’s the rundown

Salted caramel pretzel bark

pretzel bark collage

So tasty. And SO EASY!

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Oreo truffles – I bought the family size package of Oreos because I wasn’t sure how many I wanted to make. And you always have to leave some room for eating – I mean, error….

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Gingerbread cookies (I didn’t get a picture!)

Chocolate crinkle cookies

crinkle cookie collage

These were super tasty but a little time consuming since I had to let the dough chill. And let me tell you, you HAVE to let the dough chill. If you don’t, there’s no way you’ll actually get a ball of dough. More like a sloppy sticky mess.

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Last but certainly not least, Grandma’s sugar cookies and frosting.

sugar cookies

These are pretty stinking delicious. And the frosting is SO yummy! The recipe is direct from grandma’s email (yeah, she’s pretty hip…)

Cookies

1 1/4 c butter
2 c sugar
2 eggs
5 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 c milk
1 tsp almond or vanilla extract or 1/2 tsp each
cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs, beat until fluffy. Stir dry ingredients together. Add alternately to creamed mixture with milk. If its too sticky add a little flour so it is easy to roll out.
bake at 375 for about 8 minutes
Frosting
1/2 c crisco
1/2 c butter
1 tsp vanilla
4 c powder sugar (1 lb )
2 tbs milk
Cream butter and crisco. Add vanilla. Add sugar 1 c at a time. It will look dry. Add milk.If it doesn’t spread nice add a little more milk. Beat at med speed