Archives for December 2011

Fudge Double-Mint Cookies


A few days ago, one of my fears almost became a reality.

I was almost (okay, not really) stuck in an elevator.

It was the scariest moment EVER, and it basically reconfirmed all my usual hatreds and grievances with those shafts of death (ha-ha) all over again.

Somewhere in my childhood I became scared with elevators. I’ve never been stuck in one and have never known anyone stuck in one, but the concept is purely frightening. I also became fearful of escalators ever since my mom told me she fell down one and cut her eye open.

Why can’t we just haul ass up stairs anymore? Technology is HURTING us, people!

I think my fear of elevators stems from the fact that I’m somewhat claustrophobic and I have IBS, which is inconvenient for you know, life–not to mention being trapped in a small metal box for hours or days or eternity.

No. Bueno.

So basically I avoid elevators whenever possible.

Except at work, we have one. And sometimes it’s really convenient to use it, especially when it’s busy and it’s my lunchtime and I would prefer sparing no unnecessary second separating me and eating time.

Well, here’s where my story gets a gruesome, scary ending (okay FINE, not really).

A couple nights ago I closed shop with about 10 other employees. We went in batches in the elevator to the ground floor where a manager would let us out.

Since I was working with one male and he obvs was ahead of schedule, he went to the elevator first and held it open for a round of girls to accompany him to the bottom floor.

One by one, a couple girls and I filed in and waited for more stragglers. While we were waiting, the elevator started screaming.

Like, WTF. It’s def. not supposed to do that.

It was like my life was flashing before my eyes, people.


My male coworker informed us the noise was probably due to the fact that he’d held the elevator’s doors open for too long and once the doors closed, it’d stop.

GUESS WHAT. It didn’t stop.

Well, eventually it did. But for a few seconds it continued the screams of impending doom and I started sweating and freaking out because I usually like to be prepared in case of situations like this one where I’d be trapped for a possible lifetime.

In this circumstance, I like to pack my purse with a water bottle and at least one granola bar should I end up dying in this elevator. While I’d really hope my last meal would be something scrumptious and decadent like crab and pasta and cheesecake, I suppose a Fiber One bar would work in its place since I can’t carry crab in my purse at all times.

But on THIS night I’d neglected to pack a water bottle so I would obviously die of thirst right away. And a few days prior to this life-or-death incident I was starved and ATE MY LIFESAVING GRANOLA BAR.

How could I sabotage myself like that?

It was awful.

When the ride of doom was finished, my coworkers laughed at my nervousness and asked why I was so freaked of elevators.

I told them being trapped is scary… what if you have to poop?

They laughed.. but probably from pity.

But the question remains, folks: WHAT IF YOU HAVE TO POOP.

Then they told me that the store’s other elevator (the customer one) was stopped a few days ago and the fire department came out.

I reminded myself to never, ever take the cursed elevators again.

And I went home and got sad because I thought this was it for me, so I made cookies to make myself feel better. Chocolate always makes people feel better.

These are Fudge Double-Mint Cookies because I needed all the life-saving chocolate and mint I could get.

I’ll prolly be scarred for life, but at least I have these.

Fudge Double-Mint Cookies

1 box chocolate fudge cake mix (plain chocolate or devil’s food works too)
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1 & 1/2 cups mint M&M’s
1 & 1/2 cups dark chocolate & mint baking chips (they come in a bag together, sold on the baking aisle)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease 2 cookie sheets with cooking spray, then blot excess spray with a paper towel. Set sheets aside.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix, eggs, and oil with a spoon until blended and a thick dough forms, ensuring the cake mix powder is fully combined. Stir in the M&M’s and the baking chips until combined.
3. Drop batter by the heaping Tablespoonfuls (or use your small cookie dough scoop) onto greased cookie sheets, about 2″ apart. Bake for approx. 10-12 minutes or until center is set. Let cool for about 5 mins on sheets before transferring to wire racks to finish cooling. Store airtight.

If you want these even mint-ier (yes please), add some chopped Andes creme de menthe candies or 1/2 tsp peppermint extract to the mix. However, the balance of mint and chocolate and crunch.. perf in my book.

I’ll probably start carrying these on my person all the time to ensure people eat them first rather than me.

Because that happens often, you know.

Have a great Friday!

xo, Hayley

Peanut Brittle Bars


Um, so for once, I don’t have much to say.

For once. Weird, right?

How grateful some of you must feel right now. I’m going to shut up for once and let the food do the chit-chatting.

These Peanut Brittle Bars have a lot to say.

I mean, wouldn’t you? Especially if you’ve got a peanut butter base, a toffee-peanut butter center and a crumbly peanut butter top? Can I say ‘peanut butter’ any more in one sentence? Yup. Peanutbutter, peanutbutter, peanutbutter. Said it.

Now I’ll say no more.

This is depressing. I hate being quiet.

(Oh, and just so you know–I have always been the loud, screaming kid. As a child I was kicked out of a restaurant for screaming, and my entire life I was reminded “we’re inside, Hayley–shhhh” from embarrassed members of my family because of my insanely loud voice. Thankfully, the one time my loudness came in handy was at wrestling tournaments, for which I kept the score for four plus years in high school for my dad’s wrestling team. A gym filled with screaming coaches, whistles, sweat and rabid wrestling parents? Yup, a good, loud voice is convenient.)

That, and for fending off attackers, which I’ve yet to run into.

But if I do…

They’ll be in for it.

I’ll shush up now.

Peanut Brittle Bars *inspired by Camilla Saulsbury’s Ultimate Cake Mix Cookie Book’s recipe

1 pkg yellow cake mix
1 & 1/3 cups creamy peanut butter, divided
1 egg
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 (14oz) can sweetened condensed milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups dry roasted peanuts
1 & 1/2 cups toffee baking chips

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 13×9″ baking pan with cooking spray and set it aside.
2. Meanwhile, mix the cake mix, ONE cup of the PB, the egg and oil in a large bowl and beat it together with a mixer until it’s blended and crumbly. Take out about 1 cup of the dough and set it aside. Press the remaining dough into the prepared pan (I used my heavily greased up hands, but a greased up rubber spatula would work too) and bake off for 10 mins.
3. While the crust is baking, prepare your filling: whisk together the condensed milk, remaining 1/3 cup of peanut butter and the vanilla in a medium bowl until smooth and blended. Pour filling onto the par-baked crust and smooth it into an even layer. Sprinkle the filling with the dry roasted peanuts. Using your fingers, crumble the reserved dough on top, then sprinkle with the toffee bits.
4. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until the center is firm and set and bars are lightly golden brown. Cool on a wire rack completely, then cut into bars. Store airtight.

I’m just gonna leave you with this–you must try these. You know me & peanut butter… we have that love/hate thing going on per usual. But I really loved these bars because peanut brittle’s my faaave. We go way back.


xo, Hayley

Gingerbread Whoopie Pies with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

I’ve been having a teensy problem with Christmas shopping lately.

Namely, Christmas shopping for yours truly.

Me. Moi. MYSELF.

I have an addiction, okay?

It does NOT help that I work in a mall and I’m surrounded by awesome things all the time.

It’s so frustrating being a girl. I doubt guys have this problem of constantly needing cute clothes or ceramic canisters for their kitchens.

I meaaaann … let’s get real here. They’re necessities. Where else will the flour and sugar go? Certainly not in the old, gross canisters. Ugh.

And anyway, I can’t completely trust people will get me exactly what I want. What if I wait for Christmas to get that hot pink infinity scarf I’ve been eyeballing and it isn’t under the tree? That’s disappointing.

And then I’ll go to Target only to find they only have taupe left.

Taupe?! TAUPE!? That’s not even a color. It’s just blah. Where’s my hot pink scarf? I should have just bought it myself and saved everyone the trouble of dealing with me being infinity-scarf-less on Christmas morning.

See? Buying myself stuff is doing everyone else favors. It’s a science.

Plus, I’m done Christmas shopping so I can’t feel bad about buying things for myself. Everyone’s got tons of beautifully wrapped gifts under my decked out tree, so I hardly think it’s unfair if I treat myself to some costume jewelry or maybe a new dress.

Can I get some justification here?

No? Okay then. I still made you something: Gingerbread Whoopie Pies. And they have cinnamon cream cheese frosting. And I’ll totally give you one if you say it’s perfectly OKAY for me to buy myself a little! something to hold myself off until Christmas.

Promise it won’t be too extravagant. Or expensive… well, maybe a little.

Gingerbread Whoopie Pies with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting *inspired by Camilla Saulsbury’s Ultimate Cake Mix Cookie Book‘s recipe

1 box spice cake mix
8 ounces sour cream (don’t use reduced fat here)
2 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon, divided
1 can cream cheese frosting (substitute homemade if you like!)
Rainbow non-pareils, if desired

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease 2 cookie sheets with cooking spray, then blot the excess with a paper towel. Set them aside.
2. In a large bowl, beat together the cake mix, sour cream, eggs, oil ginger and one teaspoon of the ground cinnamon with a hand mixer until blended and a soft dough forms. Portion dough into rounded, heaping Tablespoonfuls (or use your cookie dough scoop and make a big ol’ scoop) about 3″ apart on the prepared cookie sheets.
3. Bake whoopie pies for about 12-15 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking time, until pies lightly browned on the bottoms and set in the center–do not overbake. Allow to cool on cookie sheets about 5 mins, then transfer carefully to wire racks to finish cooling.
4. Meanwhile, mix the remaining teaspoon of ground cinnamon into prepared frosting and blend to combine. Once pies are cooled, spoon a giant blob of frosting onto the flat bottom of one pie; top with another pie (flat sides together). I like using pies in similar shapes since they all bake differently. If you’d like, roll the edges of the frosting in festive sprinkles–for these, I used a holiday non-pareils mix, but THESE or THESE would be cute! Store these pies airtight.

If we’ve learned anything from this post, it’s that I’m addicted to shopping and I’m on a serious gingerbread kick … sue me for being awesome.

Have a happy Wednesday, kiddies!

xo, Hayley

Santa Hat & Peppermint Crunch Cupcakes

Have you ever wondered how judge-y Santa must be?

I mean, how many times were you threatened as a child that if you were naughty, you’d be screwed over with coal or no presents at all? And if you were nice, you’d be rewarded with something super neat, like a limited edition Barbie or a Razr scooter–hellooo childhood.

Obviously Santa has to be somewhat judgmental or else he’d be giving away presents to just about anyone… like Oprah. (Is Oprah Santa?! If so, can you please send me a new car? It’s kinda falling apart and I’d really love something sleek and sexy… maybe a Lambo? But I’m totally flexible with Porsches, Mercedes’, or maybe even Range Rovers…)

What classifies “naughty” and “nice”? Is there a barometer or something… some kind of naughty/nice scale that determines child behavior as one or the other?

As a kid, I was petrified of being naughty. The prospect of waking up on Christmas morning and having zilch but a bunch of charcoal was honestly miserable and frightening. I mean, you can’t even attempt to play with coal–it’s useless. It’s not like Santa threatens you with something possibly workable, like a paper bag or an empty box or something.



So I would always try to be (kind of) nice to my parents and anyone worthwhile who may have the potential to eff up my Christmas-gift-receiving on the 25th. Inevitably, I’d child-bitch someone out for some reason–I have never had that thing called ‘patience’–but mostly, I was good. I had my eyes on the prizes in the name of Barbie.

Maybe my parents had something to do with this grand scheme of judgment. Is Santa completely omniscient? That’s a helluva lot of kids to pay attention to every. second. Can you imagine? I could hardly focus on one child at a birthday party, much less bajillions of needy kids worldwide.

Parents have to rat out their kids to Santa. I knew they were in on this.

Since the big man is coming to town soon, I thought I’d commemorate him with some cupcakes. I know he’s generally a cookie man, but people! This guys lives a life of repetition. Don’t you think he deserves some mixing-things-up? And I’m not suggesting chocolate chip to oatmeal chocolate chip, if you know what I mean.

I made him Santa-Hat Cupcakes ’cause they’re cute, super easy, and totally festive. And they’re made from the Peppermint Crunch Cupcakes recipe I concocted. I imagine I’ll be getting a boatload of awesome gifts for my creativity. It’s totally nice.

Peppermint Crunch Cupcakes

1 box white cake mix, plus ingredients on back of box
1 tsp peppermint extract
2 cups chopped Andes peppermint crunch candies
Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe & ingredients below)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 muffin pans with paper liners.
2. In a large bowl, prepare cake batter according to package directions. Stir in peppermint extract and one cup of the chopped peppermint candies. Portion batter evenly into muffin cups, about 2/3 full. Bake for approximately 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely.

Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting

1 (8oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tsp peppermint extract
About 5 cups powdered sugar

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat cream cheese, butter and peppermint extract together until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add powdered sugar, about 1 cup at a time, until a nice stiff but spreadable consistency is achieved.
2. Pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes and garnish with the remaining one cup of chopped peppermint candies.

OMG. These are amazing.

They look pretty cute like this, don’t they?

But they also look super adorbz with Santa Hats.

Santa-Hat Cupcakes *inspired by a cutie idea on Pinterest

24 cupcakes, baked in the flavor of your choice & cooled
Prepared vanilla buttercream* (use either homemade, or canned frosting works–about 2-3 cans, depending on how much frosting you plan on using)
Red food coloring

1. Separate about 3/4 cup of vanilla buttercream from the entire batch and place in a medium bowl; set aside. Meanwhile, in another medium-large bowl, add several drops of red food coloring into the remaining frosting and stir until you achieve a nice, rich red color.
2. Attach one piping bag with a large, round circle tip (I used Atecco 807) and place the red frosting into the bag. In another bag, attach a smaller open star tip (I used Wilton 21) and add the vanilla frosting.
3. Start piping the red frosting onto the cupcakes in a clockwise motion, piling high in an inverted cone shape (think the shape of Santa’s hat). Then, come in with the white frosting and pipe small stars, one at a time, along the edge of the cupcake and the red frosting, as well as one star on the top of the red frosting cone. You could also draw one single, slightly squiggly line along the perimeter of the hat, like I did (just depends on how detailed you want to go).
4. And you’re done! Oh yeah–like my cupcake sleigh? I found this one at Crate and Barrel. Such a genius way to display your holiday cupcakes!

*Here’s an easy buttercream recipe I use everytime. For this, I recommend doubling the recipe for nice, piled-high hats.

2/3 cup butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
About 2-4 tsp milk
About 4 cups powdered sugar

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together butter and vanilla until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Gradually add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until a stiff paste is achieved. Add milk, 1 tsp at a time, until a stiff but spreadable frosting consistency is achieved. You don’t want it too runny, so only use the milk if it’s super stiff. Proceed with coloring as needed.

Set these out Christmas Eve and you’ll guaranteed get awesome presents. Unless you’ve been really naughty, in which case, money usually works wonders when it comes to bribery. Just a tip.

xo, Hayley

Gingerbread Cookie Butter Blondies

Do you SEE that?

I’m fairly positive you do.

No one in their right mind would skim past a product that clearly says “COOKIE. BUTTER.”

Food bloggers tell no tales, folks. That stuff is the real deal. And after hearing about it from Jessica at How Sweet It Is, I drove my booty to the nearest Trader Joe’s (just so you know, I could live there) and searched aisle after aisle for it, maybe even tearing up when I thought I couldn’t find it… until I did.

Then I was worried I’d find this spectacular jar of happy and it’d be like, $10 and I’d cry because I cannot justify spending $10 on a jar of food. 

But it was $3.69. TJ’s is always looking out for me, I swear.

I bought it and died and went to heaven and then was sent back to earth to make something positively genius with it. God practically threw this at me and demanded my entrance to heaven would be based on making something kick-ass AWESOME with it.

So I did.

Blondies were the only thing I knew.

Blondies are pretty much my life.

I kind of want to sleep on top of these blondies and snuggle between the layers of swirled cookie butter and white chocolate chips. Mmm.

Gingerbread Cookie Butter Blondies *inspired by the Salted Butterscotch Blondies recipe 

2 cups brown sugar (I used light, but dark can be substituted) 
2/3 cup butter
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Sprinkle of ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground ginger
About 1/2-to-2/3 cup Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter 
2/3 cup white chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8×8 inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan, bring the butter and brown sugar together and melt over medium heat, stirring constantly–do not boil. Allow mixture to cool slightly. Meanwhile, place cookie butter in a microwavable bowl and zap for about 15-20 seconds to slightly melt (this will make it a lot easier to swirl into the blondie batter in a second).
3. Stir in vanilla extract, the eggs–one at a time–followed by the spices, baking powder and salt, and one cup of flour at a time until a soft dough has formed. Pour half of the blondie batter into the prepared pan. 
4. Drop Tablespoonfuls of melted cookie butter on top of the blondie batter in the pan; swirl cookie butter into blondie batter with a butter knife. Sprinkle with half the white chocolate chips. Pour remaining blondie batter on top of swirled mixture; top with remaining cookie butter, swirl into blondie batter again, and top with remaining white chocolate chips. 
5. Bake blondies for about 25-30 minutes or until center is set and the edges are lightly golden; do not overbake. Blondies will continue to cook slightly after being removed from the oven. Cool completely on a wire rack, then cut into squares and serve. Store airtight.

As I’m sure you’re wondering, this cookie butter tastes identical to one of my favorite “inventive” snacks growing up as a kid. One day I smeared creamy peanut butter on top of cinnamon graham crackers and I was HOOKED. It’s the easiest but most deliciously sweet & spicy treat EVAH. Therefore, this buttah has a delicious cinnamon spice flavor but the consistency of peanut butter. It’s really one of a kind and positively wonderful–for $3.69, it’d be really dumb not to try this and bury yourself in gingerbread-y goodness.

No peer pressure or anything. I don’t believe in that.

Enjoy these, and Happy Monday! I’ve got loads of new recipes this week to share with you!

xo, Hayley

Chocolate-Dipped Pretzel “Drumsticks”


Family traditions are kind of weird.

Like, how do they just happen?

Who determines it a “tradition” rather than some kind of thing that just happened?

Either way, my family has quite a bit of weird traditions or things that totally mean “holidays” to us.

First: Christmas music.

I didn’t grow up in a religious household, so religious Christmas music was never our family’s cup of tea. We grew up on Elvis (per my grandma), Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, and obnoxious favorites like Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You”, N*Sync’s “Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays” and of course, “Feliz Navidad.”

So when we hear the religious stuff, my siblings and I kind of wrinkle our nose. I know, we’re spoiled, ignorant brats. Sue us for liking our “Jingle Bell Rock.”

Second: Christmas Eve.

Lots of people open presents on Christmas Eve. To that, I wanna say WTF. I’m not lying: if I could demolish all the presents wrapped for me under my tree rightthissecond I totally would want to… but my impulses would be outweighed by my wanting to wait until Christmas day. I mean, that’s the point right? The whole countdown til the 25th kinda thing. Not spoil it by ripping everything open the day before.

So to pacify our impulses, my grandma allows us to open one SMALL present at her house every year. Oh yeah, did I mention we do all of our holiday functions with her? Like clockwork, every year, we’re at her house Christmas Eve night for pizza, at back at her house Christmas day at 9am for brunch.

As I was saying: Christmas Eve. We eat pizza from this AWFUL place near her house. I’m not sure what drives her to purchase this pizza, as it tastes very closely to drywall and death, but for whatever reason, we eat our pepperoni-flavored dry wall and then watch the cartoon version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. No way would I let the family partake in a viewing of the new Jim Carrey version, as I have a gross dislike for Jim Carrey. I don’t know. He’s creepy. Moving on.

Third: Christmas morning.

You all should know by now I’m crazy. It didn’t just happen like that. I was born into a crazy family of individuals who love Christmas. Like, we’re psycho for it. And remember my aforementioned note about wanting to wait until Christmas morning to rip open our presents?

It should be taken VERY literally.

Because for my WHOLE LIFE I was the brat who woke up at ungodly hours and woke my parents so we could open gifts. As a young kid, my parents said I couldn’t wake up earlier than 6… but they were always lenient on that rule, and more or less we’d be up between 5 and 6 am.

But over the years that time has creeped up higher and higher, even after my siblings and I get older and older. Can you guess what time we woke up to open presents last year?

Um… 2:30 am.


Isn’t that insane?

We’re all old now.

No Barbies. No Hot Wheels. No video game consoles, phones, or anything fancy. Just clothes… and maybe gift cards… and for me, the occasional rubber spatula. Def. nothing that warrants a 2:30 am wake-up call.

Yet it continues to happen every year. Any guesses on what time we’ll wake up this year?

I guess you could say our horrendous wake time is tradition.

Or that we’re crazy. It works.

When I was doing my cookie baskets, I really wanted to incorporate something SUPER easy–mostly because I was already making 5 other cookies and confections, but also because it would look pretty and be festive, too. So I thought of pretzel sticks dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with fun, yummy things like non-pareils or peppermint chunks or toffee bits… and I’d call them pretzel “drumsticks” because of the whole Christmas thing and all.

There’s that bacon-peppermint lookalike again.

I may not listen to religious Christmas music, but I know about it. I’m reppin’ lil drummer boy right here, folks.

These are such a cinch to put together and make for great presentation and gifts. Wanna know how?

Chocolate-Dipped Pretzel “Drumsticks”

2 bags pretzel rods
1 pound chocolate bark (Candiquik or Almond Bark)
Assorted “sprinkles”: holiday jimmies or non-pareils; toffee bits; crushed candy bars; peppermint/mint crushed candy bits

1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with wax paper; set aside.
2. Meanwhile, melt chocolate bark according to package directions and stir until completely melted and smooth. Dip the lower 1/3 of each pretzel rod in melted chocolate and spin the rod to allow the excess chocolate to drip off. Sprinkle the chocolate coating with any desired topping, turning to coat, and place on the wax-lined baking sheet. Repeat process.
3. Once pretzels are coated, pop the pretzel rods in the fridge to harden the chocolate. Store airtight.

If you wanted, you could always change up the flavors of these pretzel drumsticks by using peanut butter, white chocolate, or colored chocolate or candy bark or adding extracts to the melted chocolate to change it up. Some good ones would be peppermint, eggnog, orange, or even cinnamon. Just use a half teaspoon of extract per one pound of melted chocolate bark.

Quick and easy? I’m all for it. Especially if I’ll have more time to open presents at 2 am.

Have a great weekend!

xo, Hayley


Snowball Cookies


I always thought it’d be cool to be a psychology major, but I never really wanted to pursue a psych-related career, so I never went for it.

I think I’d be a pretty good psychologist. I like to psycho-analyze people (read: I like judging people). Getting paid to judge people and point out their flaws? Sign me up!

Well, I happen to have dissected a new breed of people and would like to share my new information with you as I’m sure you all have run into this kind of person before.

I call it: The Back-Handed Bitch, or BHB for short.

As we’ve all been outside our house, it’s easy to assume we’ve encountered some serious beeyotches in the universe, like the psycho lady cussing out the cashier at Walmart, or those scary-ghetto girls who always picked fights with people in high school if you looked at them the wrong way.

These people are just bitches. Nothing more, nothing less. In a way, you should be thankful for their bitchiness. They’re up-front about it–no gimmicks or niceties here. Just pure beeyatch. For more examples, see Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, a high school campus, or Walmart during the holiday season.

But the BHB works in more mysterious ways. She’s covert in her bitchiness–mostly by using super-secret-bitch tactics to hide her true feelings and crazy-bitch sneak attacks. But she can’t out-smart me, since I got trained (undercover) by experience from a BHB myself.

See, in one of my classes last semester, I had this girl–we’ll call her Seagull Sally, since she takes on physical bird-like qualities.

EVERYONE was obsessed with Seagull Sally for some reason. Literally EV-ER-Y-ONE. It was obnoxious because she was only so-so, yet everyone was constantly praising her work and how smart and creative and artsy and genius she was and I was the odd man out in this public obsession. It’s how a parent must feel at a Justin Bieber themed birthday party, standing there, alone, as the crowd engulfs you in obsessive chants, conversations and borderline-cult-like worshipping.

Just plain weird.

Anyways, Seagull Sally–for all her birdliness and hipster clothing–deserved a chance. So I was nice to her, would compliment her work, and engage in conversation with her. Yet I quickly found she was just a BHB in disguise, but everyone else was too busy making shrines of her in their closets to notice.

(To protect the not-so-innocent, I won’t give exact incidents, but I will try my best to recreate them)

BHB would say things like, “You’re very colorful today” and gesture toward a colorful outfit I was wearing. Of course, I’d respond, “yeah, I sure love color!” or “I really love the color of this sweater” or something generic. And here’s where the BHB comes in. Seagull Sally would say, “yeah, I find that lots of bright colors kind of look garish and tacky.”

Um, wait. Did you just back-handedly call me tacky?

Or an incident similar to when we first met:

BHB Seagull Sally asked me what kinds of cupcakes I make, so I responded “all flavors, all kinds, starting with a box of cake mix.” To which she responded: “Oh, you use cake mix? I feel like the flavor is so artificial. See, I’m more into pastry, so I like making things along those lines.”

If there’s one thing I CAN’T STAND, it’s when people get all high and mighty about “pastry.” Just because I use cake mix does NOT mean I’m a sub-human baker or anything. Take your “pastry” and shove it up your beak, BHB!

Or, like one time, when we were having a mini-“bonding” moment until she whipped out her super-human BHB moves:

We were discussing our class homework assignment and I’d mentioned I’d had trouble with it since the prompt was kind of difficult AND I was struggling with homework assignments from my other hard classes. She tossed her hair and replied, “yeah, I just found it really easy because I’m used to writing like this, and I’m only taking this class so it was like, really simple. I was done in like an hour and then went shopping.”

Speaking of shopping:

BHB SS: “Did you get that top at Forever 21?”
ME: “Yeah I did.”
BHB SS: “I totally thought about getting that, but when I tried it on, it made me look really fat and disgusting. The waist was all awkward and it just looked so frumpy.”


Ugh! Need I say more?

The BHB is an awful bitch to encounter–she masks her bitchy ways in between weird, pseudo compliments so you’re not really sure what just happened. Unfortunately, all the people I liked in my class were too blinded by their weird infatuations with Seagull Sally to notice, so I’m the anomaly–and that’s okay. I have you–my cake mix-loving friends–to laugh with me about this insecure girl and bring awareness to your life before you encounter a BHB yourself.

Also, I made Snowball Cookies. They helped me get through my brutal days of being par-bitched out by Seagull Sally. And they served as a wonderful celebratory snack that Seagull Sally has flown away to other endeavors, possibly to BHB someone else and will never see me again.

The end.

If you’ve never had a snowball cookie, I’m sorry. They’re the most amazing cookie EVER. They’re light in texture, coated in powdered sugar, and are perfectly reminiscent of the holidays. You must bake these ASAP!

Snowball Cookies *adapted from The Great American Cookie Cookbook’s Snowball Cookies recipe

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract (can substitute almond if desired)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 & 1/2 cups finely ground pecans (I bought chopped pecans and ground mine in my food processor with a little flour and sugar. Make sure you add the flour and/or sugar while grinding or else you’ll end up with pecan butter!)
1/4 tsp salt
About 1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease 2 cookie sheets with cooking spray, and blot excess spray with a paper towel. Set sheets aside.
2. In a large bowl, beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla until blended, about 1 minute, or until creamy. Blend in the flour, ground pecans and salt until combined. Refrigerate (uncovered’s fine) for an hour.
3. Shape dough into 1″-sized balls with a teaspoon-sized cookie dough scoop or your hands. Place dough about 2″ apart on the prepared cookie sheets. Bake for approx. 10-12 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking time, or until cookies are set and edges are lightly browned. Cool for about 5 minutes on the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
4. Place your powdered sugar in a sifter and dust cookies with powdered sugar, or roll the cookies in a bowl of powdered sugar to coat. Store airtight.

Just be warned: every time I make these, I get sooo eager to eat them that I inhale it and of course, inhale a mouthful of powdered sugar. This creates an unpleasant, unattractive coughing fit. Just saying. Also, you’ll eat about 100 of these, so you should probably make a few batches for yourself, then one or two for the neighbors or something.

I hope you never have to encounter a BHB, but if you do–make her these cookies and watch her eat one. After she proclaims they’re “so good!” tell her they’re made with dog food so she’ll never get all “pastry” on you again.

Have a great weekend! More treats to come!

xo, Hayley

Peppermint Bark


Let’s get real here: I love food.

I’m also really good at being obvious.

But besides porkchops, I really don’t like novelty foods.

You know… bacon flavored mints, bacon flavored chocolate, pickle flavored jelly beans, hot wing flavored sunflower seeds… um, NO.

I like my bacon in bacon form: sizzling, fresh, salty and a teensy bit sweet. Oh, and laden with ribbons of fat that melts on your tongue. I do not like my bacon in a chocolate bar, sprinkled in donuts, in a tin I could easily confuse with my beloved-tin of Altoids, or in anything that would be considered “novelty.”

Novelty and food rarely go hand-in-hand.

Did you know Jones Soda makes a turkey and gravy flavored soda?

Case in point.

Here is my gut-wrenching, teeth-clenching, disturbing tale of waking up on the risky side of the bed and trying a novelty food: Jelly Belly’s pickle-flavored jelly bean.

Imagine me, being an idiot, standing in the middle of the most colorful store in the world, surrounded by beans of yummy and goodness, like my favorites: bubblegum, juicy pear, and red hot cinnamon, to name a few. I’m browsing around, begging my mom to buy some belly flops when some freakshow employee points out the case of weird flavors.

I beg your whaaaaaaa.

Vomit flavored jelly bean? Ew.
Ear wax flavored jelly bean? Noooooot in a million years.
Pickle flavored jelly bean? No, Hayley, don’t even consider it, no no no no!! I’ll try it.

I channel my non-existent, pickle-loving pregnant woman and nosh on jars of pickles on the daily. I love them. Sweet gherkins, zesty dills, regular ol’ spears… you name it, I love me some pickles.

SO WHY did I try a pickle flavored jelly bean? It was probably due to the sudden disappearance of all logic in truly understanding what this would imply.

Freakshow dude handed me the single bean with a mini-bean-picking tong and I remember staring at it, marveling at how close it looks to juicy pear! and thinking maybe, just maybe, it may taste good, similar to my juicy pear bean of choice.

I popped it in my mouth and with ONE single tooth chomp, the flavor hit me like a two-thousand-ton truck of disgusting.

This shit tasted like a motherf*n pickle.

In that moment of awkwardly chewing, fully comprehending the full magnitude of AWFUL in my mouth-hole, I silently cursed myself for being a wild child and reminded myself to blame my parents for not creating a pickier-eating child like my brother, whose childhood diet was chicken stars and hot dogs.

I ate a pickle… but it wasn’t a pickle. It was a jelly bean, and I was literally milliseconds from vomming all over that freaking bean store.

The worst worst part? After successfully avoiding my attempt to vomit over every square inch of jelly bean in sight and spitting it out as well as wishing someone would run by and chop my tongue off in a brutal attempt to save me, I still tasted it… like, the next day.

This was unfortunate since I brushed my teeth more times in that single day than ever before, and I also supplemented my copious mouth-washing with eating foods that would hopefully counter-act the taste of despair in my mouth at that moment. Oh god, it was brutal.

No onion could squelch the taste of pickle radiating from my poor orifice.

And after my last pickle-tasting burp, I vowed to NEVER eat anything pickle-flavored (or novelty-flavored) AGAIN. Unless it was pickles, which I honestly couldn’t look in the eye for months afterward.

I was grossly reminded of this incident last night when my psycho boyfriend Jessie and I went to Fry’s (aka, our second home–we’re seriously there 4x a week, don’t ask why) and I spotted pickle flavored seeds there.


It was a close call.

So I begged him to distract me with ANY other thought of ANYTHING else to avoid being the dude who has the sobbing, convulsing, barfing girlfriend. I pleaded. I threatened. Then he told me I was pretty and I felt better.

Don’t worry–this Peppermint Bark is not secretly pickle flavored, nor is it disgusting. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Like, instead of making you want to vom, you want to scream on the tops of the roofs and gallebant in a field of amazing.

Mmmhmmm! True story.

Peppermint bark dominates the holidays because people love it and it doesn’t make anyone cry or be scared or want to die. So you should make people happy and make it now.

Also it’s three ingredients. I know, I’m so convenient for you.

(And I promise to never say the V word ever again as long as I never have another encounter with the cursed bean again)

Peppermint Bark

1 pkg (about a pound) white chocolate almond bark, like Candiquik
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
About 1 & 1/2 cups crushed candy canes or Andes peppermint baking chips

1. First, line a 13×9″ pan with foil, extending the foil tabs over the sides of the pan. Lightly grease with cooking spray. Set aside.
2. Melt white chocolate bark according to package directions, stirring to prevent burning. Stir in peppermint extract to blend completely, then stir in about 1/4 cup of the crushed candy canes or peppermint chips to blend.
3. Pour melted chocolate mixture into the prepared pan and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle with remaining candy canes or baking chips evenly.  Place bark in fridge to harden, about 30 minutes.
4. Once frozen and solid, remove bark from freezer and from the pan,  using the foil handles. Allow to come close to room temperature (but still be chilly–don’t let it melt!) before breaking into pieces. Store airtight.

Personally, I find the chocolate layer on my peppermint bark to be useless since all I want is that white chocolate & peppermint goodliness, but if you like that chocolate layer, melt a pound of milk chocolate bark and pour it in the pan first, then freeze it. Once it’s frozen, begin the white chocolate process, above, and freeze again. You should have a nice, even layer of both milk chocolate and white chocolate once it’s done.

In a way, those baking chips kind of look like bacon… but I promise I wouldn’t hurt you.

I wrapped these up in cute cellophane bags and gifted them to coworkers of mine who have hopefully never lived a life of sorrow from eating a pickle flavored jelly bean. I hope no one ever has to personally know what I went through, so the peppermint bark acts as a guardian, blessing their lives with yummy rather than disgust.

I’m like a guardian peppermint-bark-making angel. Or something like that.

Enjoy! And stay tuned for more recipes for the Week of Cookies!

xo, Hayley

Gingerbread Blossoms


I have GREAT news.

School’s out! Can I get a collective HELL YEAH?

Like, I’m dunzo. No more!*
*until life dies again January 23, a day before my twenty-first birthday–sigh.

But whatever. That’s like over a month of vacation to catch up on my shows (American Horror Story, anyone?), do unnecessary shopping and bake, bake, bake without a single thought of algebraic expressions, American Literature, or writing poems.

Well, not completely without a single thought. I did write you a haiku.

School is finished–yay!
Time to celebrate a lot
with the Real Housewives

Oh my god, maybe I should keep writing haikus. That was pretty good.

In the spirit of abandoning education and all things school-related for over a month, I’ve composed a list (you know I love ’em!) of Reasons Why I’m Excited School Is Ovaaahhh.

1. No homework, quizzes, tests, exams, sanity donations, etc. That means I don’t need to study for anything and my focus can be dedicated entirely to being awesome. Sweet!

2. No weird loud nerds. My lunchtime will be very pleased it no longer has unwelcome, annoying visitors. I sincerely hope over Christmas break they’ll all learn the cardinal rule of cussing: if you’re going to say “bad words” (which btw, I don’t see cussing as “bad”; it’s just language some people disfavor. And for me, I really disfavor the word ‘daddy’ and also the word ‘cheddar’ because it reminds me of feet) you CANNOT giggle incessantly like a schoolgirl after saying the word ‘shit.’ You look like an imbecile. Stop it and learn to cuss correctly, dammit.

3. Five AM wake time is only necessary if my house is burning to the ground, and even then, can’t it wait til like, 8? I used to be an avid morning person (still am) but now I’m a little more apt to sleep in than before (though Jessie would disagree–I just don’t consider laying in bed until 1pm “sleeping in”–that’s called lazy). Having to wake up every Monday and Wednesday at five in the morning to give myself ample bathroom time and get my ‘ish together before I headed off to algebra (genius schedule move right there) was awful. So I’m kicking early wake-up calls in the dust and embracing my bed a little bit longer.

4. The holidays are closer… and closer… and clooooserrrrr. School being out + freezing my booty off are obvious indicators the holidays are basically within reach. The presents under the tree look even more appetizing than the day before, and Jessie stops asking me if he can have his present early (he knows me too well) because it makes sense for him to give up and just wait like a normal human.

5. Um, baking. Let’s not kid ourselves. Namely, baking holiday food. Because gingerbread, peppermint, cinnamon and spice all taste better when you’re not neck-deep in the quadratic formula. You know what else sounds better when you’re neck-deep in quadratics? A noose… but that’s a new story.

Baaack to gingerbread. It’s so good.

For awhile I didn’t like it because I’d only ever associated gingerbread with making gingerbread houses… which I loathe.

I mean, the concept is cool–decorating a house in gum drops and candy canes for a non-existent entity and then demolishing said house to consume. Cool, right?

Yeah but it’s too much work and I’m far too lazy to decorate something elaborate that I won’t even end up eating. Also, my grandma used to let us kids decorate houses when we were younger. She’d always buy these weird kits where the walls and roof were awkward and lopsided, not to mention they tasted much like an actual wall and roof must taste.

Then there was the frosting–my grandma believes any food can be revived as long as it’s long preserved in the freezer. Frosting.. not so much. Even after she microwaved it, it still came out in this weird, wormy log that didn’t make anything stick and tasted like paste. Also, you had to have Brawny-man strength just to weasel even a small glob of icing paste, and as a five year old, I must say I was lacking in my iron and protein vitamins to obtain muscle-man brawn and use frosting from a tube.

ALSO, the candy we purchased was awful. Gum drops? Why do they bother making the purple, yellow, green, pink or orange kind? Just red and white are fine with me. Also, the kits would come with these knock-off M&Ms that tasted really funky, probably because I have the feeling a real-life carpenter created this kit she most likely purchased from the black market as it was hardly edible and probably poisonous.

And the only thing we ever ended up eating were the Mother’s brand gingerbread man cookies. Otherwise our lonely, unoccupied house of nasty sat on our counter for days. Even the ants wouldn’t touch it. We threw it away and it promptly broke through our tile floor from being made from actual concrete. Just kidding. But it was a waste, and I’ve hated gingerbread houses since.

However, I’ve loved gingerbread. So I knew for my Week of Cookies I had to make a gingerbread cookie. But cookie cutters? Soo not my thing. I’m awful with cut-out cookies. Mine all look like bloated masses when they’re done baking, and it’s no fun decorating an obese gingerbread man-mass. Nope. Save your desire to make pretty cookies for Bake at 350; she’s the best.

Alas, Gingerbread Blossoms. They’re easy, taste wonderful, and won’t bring out your holiday gingerbread-house-building or school-related frustrations. I promise.

Gingerbread Blossoms

1 pouch gingerbread cookie mix (I used Betty Crocker), plus ingredients on back of box (adding one additional Tablespoon of water)
1/2 cup white sugar
About 24 Hershey Hugs (white chocolate with a milk chocolate swirl)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease 2 cookie sheets with cooking spray, then blot the excess spray with a tissue. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, prepare cookie mix according to package directions  until a soft dough forms. In another small bowl, place the half cup of white sugar.
3. Roll teaspoon-sized balls of gingerbread cookie dough into the sugar, 2 dough-balls at a time, until coated. Place about 2″ apart on the greased cookie sheets. Flatten the dough balls with the bottom of a glass coated in more sugar. Yup, lots of sugar on this one, people.
4. Bake cookies for about 8-10 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking time, until cookie centers are set and the edges are lightly browned. Allow to sit on the pan for about 2 minutes before garnishing the top of each still-warm cookie with an unwrapped Hershey hug, pressing gently to adhere (but not too hard or it’ll instantly melt). Allow cookies to cool on pans for about 5 minutes, then carefully transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
NOTE: the Hugs on top will take longer to cool and harden again long after the actual cookies have cooled, so if you’re packaging these as a gift, make sure to wait until the Hug has cooled.

I love these because they’re a fun and simple take on the classic Peanut Butter Blossom cookie… except with gingerbread, loads of sugar, and white chocolate. Um, yes please.

Also, if you can’t find Hugs for whatever reason, try substituting them with the caramel-filled Kisses or maybe even leftover Pumpkin Spice Kisses…? Mm.

That’s it for Day 3 of my Week of Cookies–stay tuned for 3 more days of tasty.

xo, Hayley

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups


I’m scared.

I haven’t been eating the healthiest lately, and my aversion to exercise is still in full effect. The consequences? Tiiiiight jeans.

Oh no I didn’t.

I can’t help that I’m positively ADDICTED to food. You know the phrase “Live to Eat/Eat to Live?” Yeah, I’m the first one.

Sometimes I wish I was the latter, like some people I know. They nosh on celery sticks and eat small portions and once in awhile nibble on something “bad” and then work out ferociously for hours.

But then I realize they have problems, like they smoke cigarettes or drink like they’re 16 again and it puts my inner-chubby-kidness into perspective.

Take your cigarettes and slutty party drinking. I’m going to go watch my Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and have a date with this cinnamon roll.

Seriously. I LOVE FOOD. You with me?

Have you ever been in a group situation where there’s a TON of food and you’ve already got firsts and possibly seconds but still want more? Like at a party or Thanksgiving or a wedding? And you’re like, “obviously everyone is channeling their inner bird and only pecking at the food, so I should be the responsible fat ass and eat this food a third, fourth or fifth time over.” But you’re scared people will judge you for eating a lot?

Maybe? Maybe not? Well I feel like that.

I’ll be at a party and there’s like, platters and vats of food and everyone’s just snacking on chips and salsa and I can’t even listen to their conversation because I’m too busy plotting the best way for me to sneak in another 812 pinwheel sandwiches without anyone noticing   (heads up: I freaking love pinwheel sandwiches).

Meanwhile, I’ll pretend to play it cool by asking whomever I’m talking to if they’re going to get some more food. I’m channeling my inner weird-high-school-girl-who-goes-to-the-bathroom-with-a-group by asking people around me to accompany me to the food table because I’m too ashamed to go alone for the fourth time.

And they’ll say “no” and I’m secretly cursing at them under my breath because WHY THE HELL CAN’T THEY BE FAT LIKE ME? Ugh, the world is such a cruel, cruel place!

Or if I’m at dinner at someone else’s house (seriously THE WORST) and I’m dying for thirds but it looks awkward since everyone is wrapping up seconds or barely finishing firsts and I’m thinking I was obviously born with a genetic imperfection that makes my stomach incapable of being full and thus making me incredibly needy for food’s embrace all the time–I’ll remind myself to blame my mother and father for their faulty food-related genes later.

So I’ll linger, maybe surreptitiously run the sides of the tines of my fork in the lingering sauce on my plate to obtain any extra calories I can without making it seem like I’m licking my plate clean–which is exactly what I’m doing, just in a classy way.

And when everyone leaves or declares, “wow, that was good; I’m soo full!” I’ll fake it and be like, “totally–I’m stuffed!” but NOT be stuffed.

I’m sure you’re all thinking I’m psycho and wondering why I don’t just speak up about still being hungry and saying ‘who cares’ when and if people judge me.

Well…. nevermind, I don’t have a witty response. I’ll just continue to wallow in my own hunger and food-loving-ness. I don’t need you!

Anyways, I made these Homemade Peanut Butter Cups as part of my “Week of Cookies” because peanut butter cookies are played and I wanted to recreate a favorite candy treat for my family and friends.

Wanna know why I really made these? Because while I don’t have a close, loving relationship with peanut butter–much less, Reese’s PB Cups–I know everyone else does. And I know people go bonkers for peanut butter cups and eat like, 23 in one sitting which is fine because their pig out balances out the food equilibrium and now I can watch them be fat.

I’m evil.

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups *adapted from Brown Eyed Baker’s recipe here 

1 pkg chocolate bark, divided in half (I used Candiquik)
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 & 1/4 cups powdered sugar

1. Line a mini-muffin pan with paper liners and line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper and set them aside.
2. In a medium saucepan, bring together the peanut butter, butter and brown sugar over medium heat, stirring constantly. Once the mixture is smooth and completely melted, remove from heat and stir in the powdered sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. The mixture will become very crumbly–that’s fine. Allow the mixture to cool completely.
3. Microwave half of your chocolate bark until smooth and melted. Spoon about a teaspoon of chocolate into the bottom of each muffin tin–set aside. Meanwhile, form teaspoon-sized balls of the peanut butter mixture with your hands, and flatten the balls slightly with your palms to form patties. Place PB patties onto the lined cookie sheet. You’ll need about 30-36. Make sure they’re small enough for the mini muffin liners!! Place both the muffin tin with the chocolate-bottomed liners and the PB patties in the fridge to chill, about 30 mins.
4. Now, zap the remaining chocolate until melted. Remove the patties and muffin cups from the fridge. Place one PB patty in each muffin cup and spoon another heaping teaspoon or so of chocolate on top of each patty, making sure you coat the sides of the patty as well. Repeat with remaining PB cups. Pop PB cups back into the fridge to harden, about 15 minutes or so.
5. Store airtight in the fridge, but allow to bring close to room temperature before eating for best–not melty–results.

I was skeptical about this recipe–recreating a PB cup? Yeah right! But they taste IDENTICAL to a Reese’s. Like whoa. One coworker even said, “Reese’s, eat your heart out.” Um, I like that guy. He’ll get about 975 more of these.

And if you’re making these for the holidays, try using holiday-themed or colored foil wrappers to be extra festive!

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

xo, Hayley

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