Finals Week: Baking > Studying

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It’s really really hard to study because all I want to do is bake. Most students I know want to sleep or watch Netflix during this stressful time of year. Me? I want to bake scones, quick breads, and these lemon bars. But I shouldn’t, because baking in a dorm room takes TWICE as long as baking in a normal house or apartment. It requires several 3 minute trips to the kitchen (about 5 minutes round trip). And I do this many many times.
First I have to run to the kitchen to pre-heat the oven. Then I go back to my room and bring the prepared cookie sheets with the cookies already scooped on there. I usually have to stack them on top of each other and smoosh the cookie dough on the bottom tray because there’s no way to open doors and carry 2 trays of cookies. Then I get to the kitchen, pop them in the oven, and set my alarm for 12 minutes. And then I go back to my room to try to squeeze in some studying (but really I’m just on Facebook). Then my alarm goes off and I trek back down with my oven mitts in hand. I can only take one hot tray at a time (I can’t stack them like I did before), so that’s 2 trips. And then I let the cookies cool on my bed and unload the trays so that I can scoop the cookie dough and repeat this process for THREE MORE TIMES. It took me 2 whole hours to bake a batch of Strawberry Cheesecake Cookies.

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That’s time I should have spent studying for my two finals that are happening in less than 48 hours. But that’s okay. Because I’m baking for a good cause–the cafe I opened up for my residents. I’ve opened this cafe for the past 4 semesters and this will be my very last time doing it because I am GRADUATING and finally moving out of a dormitory.

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I have this baking “bug” worse than I ever had before. I couldn’t figure it out for a while but I think I finallly pinned it down. This is one of the last opportunities I’ll get to “bake on the bed.” I complain about the hardships of having all my baking stuff in one crate and coating my whole room in flour and having to make the super long trek to the kitchen, but I’m going to miss having to work hard to make the food. I’m going to miss having 300 eager mouths to feed. I will miss their reactions like “Ohhhh this is SO good.” (A guy just seriously took a bite out of a cheesecake cookie right now and said that while simultaneously grabbing a second one). I’m going to miss having people to pawn off my burnt cookies to because luckily there are people in this world that actually prefer burnt cookies. I’m going to miss being in college.

So here’s to one of my last blog posts as a college undergraduate…more senior pictures and sappy posts to come.

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Door Decs!

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One of my favorite parts of being an RA is making the door decs. I think Michelle can also agree, but she spends a lot more time and energy on hers. I aim for mine to be simple, cute and reproducible. On the other hand, Michelle likes to make door decs that require lots of precise cutting and pretty papers like these adorable turtles. I think she easily spent 30-40 hours making 60 turtles.

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I made the streamer door decs over spring break in just two hours with the help of my little 13-year-old sister Katie. She had gotten a bunch of Washi Tape which is designer tape meant for crafting. We searched on Pinterest for some ideas on how to use it and came up with using the tape and embroidery floss to make little streamers.

It’s quite simple. You put a long piece of tape on the embroider floss and fold it over so the ends meet and the sticky side of the tape is no longer exposed.

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Then you cut the rectangles into triangle shapes!

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Katie has quite a Washi Tape collection so it was fun to mix and match colors and put the streamers on different colored backgrounds. Of course, if you don’t have tape already, you just need about 2 or 3 rolls to make these decs. These flags are also great for birthday cards.

Happy Crafting RA Friends,
Angela

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College Cooking is Glamorous

Like this Roasted Asparagus I made at midnight the other day. NOT. Cooking in a dorm is anything BUT glamorous.

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Example: I made the trek to the community kitchen where I have to cross a bridge to another building and then climb down 3 flights of stairs. I had everything I needed in a bag–my marinated chicken, kale, broccoli, spices, and pots and pans. However, it seemed that everyone decided that Sunday night would be great to save some money and cook themselves. There were over a dozen people in the kitchen trying to coordinate sharing the oven and the 4 burners. I managed to steam my broccoli and boil my pasta but the demand for my burners was so overwhelming that I decided that I needed to get out of that arena and just save my chicken for later. Later…as in midnight after I had finished my homework.

At midnight, I knew that I would not have to battle anyone for the burners. As I was searing the Korean barbecue marinated chicken, a girl came by and asked why I was doing cooking dinner so late. She then recognized me as the “Baking on the Bed” girl since I had a bulletin board in the kitchen talking about my blog. There was my picture along with some tips about cooking in the dorms and lots of dorm-approved recipes. She told me that I had to post about the chicken because it smelled so good. It did smell good, but I had just used a marinade I found at the Asian grocery store and let it marinate for over 8 hours (since my cooking got delayed quite a bit).
The girl left and I was by myself with my eyes drooping and my body completely exhausted. I poked at the chicken and it seemed done so I took the hot pan back to my room. Before putting it into a plastic container for the next day, I decided to cut into it–only to find it pink and raw on the inside. I wanted to scream. But first I took this picture.

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And then I made the trek again to the kitchen. I poured water into it and pretty much let it boil because at this point, I didn’t care about texture. I just wanted it cooked so I could go to bed like a normal person.

So here are some tips to not be like me with under-cooked chicken at 12:30 am if you live in a dorm.
-Plan ahead. Use the kitchen at odd times like 2 pm on a weekday when everyone else is in class.
-Make a list before you head down to the kitchen. Remember your seasonings, oil, ingredients, and pans.
-Try to make everything in one pot so you don’t take up too much valuable stove space.
-Keep a cooking box or bag with your essential seasonings and non-stick spray and favorite pot so that all you have to do is throw in your ingredients and head to the kitchen.
-Cook EVERYTHING at once. Cook enough food for 3-4 days so you only have to trek to the kitchen about once or twice a week.
-Prepare what you can in your room. If you can make your cookie dough in your room–do it. You have all the ingredients in your room so there’s not use in bringing it all to the kitchen only to have to bring it all back.
-Test your food to see if it’s done before leaving the kitchen.

Happy Cooking,
Angela

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Pumpkin Cream Cheese Swirl Bread

Although it’s 102 degrees in Tucson right now, Michelle and I are both taking afternoon naps wrapped in blankets and comforters.  That’s the beauty of having an air conditioner.  And you know what else helps us cope with the summer heat?  Pretending that we’re in October with a fresh baked loaf of pumpkin cinnamon swirl bread.

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Do you see that swirl in the middle?  And then that cream cheese layer on top?  Ya, it’s good.  So good that you shouldn’t wait till it’s fall season to bake this.

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Mission Impossible

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Sooo let’s be honest.  We made these cinnamon rolls a good two and a half months ago and I am only now posting about them.  But since there is an epic story that goes with them, let’s go back in time and pretend it’s January and freezing cold outside a.k.a. perfect cinnamon roll weather!  Wait, what am I even saying?  It’s always perfect cinnamon roll weather.

Anyway, it was Saturday and Angela and I had tons of homework and studying to do and also direly needed to hit the gym.  We also wanted to make cinnamon rolls, one of the most time-consuming baked goods ever.  So what did we do?  We made the cinnamon rolls.  Sometimes we are bad students and put baking above school.  And sleep.  Whatever.  But WAIT FOR IT.  We also managed to finish all of our homework and work out.   You could call it a Mission Impossible.  

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Hipster Holiday

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As a Resident Assistant, I love programming.  I get to help put on a lot of events for the dorm that help build the community, promote safety, and improve academics.  It’s not as boring as it sounds though…especially when baking and delicious treats are involved.  One of my favorite  events was “Sex in the Basement” where we had a “sex-pert” come in and answer questions about safe sex (we got some pretty crazy questions).  We served chocolate covered strawberries, whipped cream and slutty brownies to really set the mood.

This month, my programming group planned a “Hipster Holiday.”  We transformed our back courtyard into an hipster cafe complete with twinkling candles, hipster flags, and lots and lots of homemade baked goods.  After hours on Pinterest, this is what I finally came up to bake:

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White Chocolate Espresso Cookies

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As much as I wish, I don’t have a Kitchen Aid mixer in my room.  But then think, “What did homemakers use before this invention?”  Pure arm strength.  And that’s just what Michelle and I use.  This brings us to today’s cookie which was made with just a wooden spoon. These cookies are chewy, with just the right amount of white chocolate and espresso to make it better than the average cookie.  We have made these cookies before using a different recipe but they were a little too crunchy for our liking.  We’re all about the chewy cookies.   Not just chewy fresh out of the oven.  We’re talking like chewy after sitting in a plastic container for 5 days…not that they ever last that long.  So we took our favorite chewy chocolate chip cookie recipe and added white chocolate chips and espresso powder.  Think white chocolate mocha in cookie form.

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Cheddar Biscuits

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If you’re like me, your favorite part of going to Red Lobster is the “Cheddar Bay Biscuits.”  Who cares about the crab alfredo or the other forgettable seafood dishes?  Just give me a basket of freshly baked biscuits and I’m good. We made clam chowder for our dad and wanted to serve it alongside something equally rich and delicious.  These cheddar biscuits are flaky, cheesy, and buttery.  In fact, they aren’t mere copy cats of Red Lobster’s biscuits–they’re better.  And this recipe makes a lot more than the basket they give you!

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