I’m Moving!

By August of this year, I will have moved 4 times in the last year, in and out of the dorm, a temporary place for the summer, and then my first year-long lease on a house with some girlfriends. I thought that I might as well through in another move while I was at it. So Cats Can’t Cook is moving to a new website with a new name and domain.
I began Cats Can’t Cook about 4 years ago, during my junior year of high school for a year-long blogging assignment. It was my favorite  memory of junior year. My teacher was incredibly encouraging during the whole process and I figured that I would keep up with it after that year. And I hardly did. I posted only a couple of times between the end of the year and the time I left for college. It’s now been over a year since I last posted a recipe.
I love all that Cats Can’t Cook was and is. It’s a time capsule from one year of high school. It was a chance to try to learn some basics of cooking. It was a place for me to focus my creative energy on food and writing, and a little photography as well. But it’s time for me to move on.
I’m entering my third year of college in August and I know that I should be doing way more writing than I currently am. And I finally have regular unrestricted access to a kitchen and supplies. So in order to get back to one of my favorite things I’ve ever done, I’m relaunching my food-blogging career over at Christi Eats.
I’m still writing in my casual style, but I have changed some things, so I’ve changed my blog. Eating habits have changed, grocery stores (I will forever love Hy-Vee) have changed, and living situations have changed. But I am still me, and I will still make great food, just posting in a different location.
Also, there’s a giant cat elephant in the room that I chose to ignore the entire time I was blogging: there is another food blog (also hosted on WordPress) that was called Cats Can’t Cook. I have no clue how I missed this when creating my site, but I did. I found it probably halfway through the year when I started to get into SEO stuff and that blog came up. I was too deep into the assignment to change, and then later I didn’t care enough to create something new. I feel like it’s not appropriate for me to continue blogging with this name when someone else was using the name first. So while I’m moving, I decided that leaving the name behind was the right thing to do. Jess (yeah, I stalked her blog to find her name), if you’re reading this: your cats are so cute and I’m sorry about stealing your blog name. It’s yours and you can have all the social media account names now.
I will not delete Cats Can’t Cook. I know that Dr. Ayers still has it linked on his blog, and has been used as an example for educators and students. Also, it truly chronicles my junior year of high school (as odd as it was) and I can’t imagine erasing that.
I will be gradually shifting my social media over to the new branding, but it may take a while. So links to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram on this page will all eventually be leading to the new blog.
I hope that you will join me over at Christi Eats. I have some exciting stuff to share with you! See you on the other side.
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Oreo Bars

Oreo, marshmallow, white chocolate, and a whole lot of love. What could be better?

Well not much, let me tell you that. Maybe cat cuddles or a cheesy pasta. But these Oreo bars are pretty hard to compete with, and they are rather easy to make and surely a crowd pleaser.

To make these guys you need a package of Oreos (whatever flavor you want is fine, but don’t do the double stuff/mega stuff variety, that’ll be too much stuff), a package of mini marshmallows, and a handful of white chocolate chips. Oh yeah, and like 4 table spoons of butter.

To start, crush the entire package of Oreos. I did it in a plastic baggie and ended up with varying sizes of Oreo crumbs, which actually worked to my advantage. If that’s not your kind of thing, you can throw them in the food processor until the Oreos are crushed to your heart’s content.

Set the Oreos aside and place the mini marshmallows in a large microwave-safe bowl.

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Oh, and add the butter. And then put them in the microwave about for 45 second intervals until the marshmallows appear puffed and the butter is melted.

Quickly mix the crushed Oreos and a handful of white chocolate chips into the marshmallows.

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Stir and stir and stir until things seem to be well mixed. Then stir some more.

Move the mixture to a prepared 9 by 13 pan (either parchment paper or butter to prevent sticky-ness), and let it set up for two or three hours before cutting and serving or packaging.

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If you want to package these bars to give them as a gift, place a piece of parchment paper between each layer, and enjoy the look of pure joy on your giftee’s face. They will love these, I promise.

With the texture of a Rice Krispie Treat, but the taste of the Oreo, these bars are sure to be a popular sweet treat.

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Cheesy Pepperoni Roll-Ups

I have become addicted to Pinterest in the last six months. It happened somewhere between wanting to make inspiration boards for clothes and needing ideas for the dorm room. Nonetheless, I am addicted. I was sucked in like a bunch of other people, and now I spend as much time (if not more) on Pinterest than Facebook and Twitter… Which is saying something.

This Pinterest addictions isn’t good because I have about 8 different food boards on my personal account, and even more on the account for the blog (while I’m talking about it, go check it out here!); which leads me to constantly thinking about food. But If I want to take this whole blogging thing to the next level, I need to commit more time and effort to thinking about dishes to try. So that’s my excuse for a Pinterest addiction.

I really am finding good recipes from Pinterest, and sometimes there are recipe trends, and sometimes I’ll hop on board with the trends. But sometimes I’ll adapt two or three versions of the trend recipes and make my own.

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Such is the case with the “Garlic Cheese Crescent Roll-Ups with Herbs and Parmesan and Sometimes Other Things too.” If you have browsed Pinterest at all during the last month you probably saw one of these recipes. I did too! And so here I am posting about how I made my version, and why it’s the best of all of the variations on the web.

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What you need:

1 tube of crescent rolls

4 mozzarella cheese sticks halved (we like Italia brand, it’s mozzarella string cheese but tastes like real mozzarella)

1 package of pepperoni

3 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon minced garlic

parmesan to taste

oregano to taste

To start, open the tube of crescent rolls carefully (but really, don’t hurt yourself). Separate the eight, and lay them them out facing the same direction.

Place the halved cheese sticks at the wide end of each crescent roll.

Lay a layer of pepperoni on each crescent, leaving an inch and a half at the narrow end of each. This will take about five or six pieces of pepperoni for each roll-up, depending on the size of the pepperoni.

Roll the crescents up, starting at the side with the cheese, and making sure at the narrow side to seal the ends.

Put the roll-ups on a baking sheet, don’t worry about greasing it.

Met the butter in the microwave, add the garlic and a sprinkle of oregano. Top each roll-up with this delicious mixture. Sprinkle each with grated parmesan.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for a couple of minutes and serve with pizza sauce or ranch or whatever your heart desires.

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These are so easy to make, I’m going to have to keep them in mind once I’m back at school. I normally have string cheese in my fridge, and crescent rolls are easy to buy at any grocery store. They aren’t microwavable, but they can be done in the community kitchen in a dorm rather easily.

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A Lot of Cupcakes

When you choose to take a service trip to Uganda, it costs a lot of money. Even if the program you are going to travel with keeps their costs low, flights and food are generally going to stay pretty expensive. For a college kid the price tag on a trans-Atlantic tip can be pretty frightening, however there are things that can be done to help lower the cost.
Luckily I have a generous church family that quickly step up and offer financial support (I love that my church values international missions) and through them I have nearly 80% of the funds that I need. Of course I don’t have a lot of spare change floating around, so I have had to come up with ideas on how to fundraise the rest of this money. What on earth could I make and sell that would be enjoyable for me to do and people would actually want to buy?

Oh yeah. CUPCAKES.

Now, I love to bake and cook, and at school I did not get a lot of opportunities to do so. That made it a little scary when someone asked me to make 50 cupcakes for a children’s party that would happen two days after I returned. I hadn’t made cupcakes in like four months, I didn’t have a reliable chocolate cupcake recipe, and I had to do all these cupcakes and frost them in one day, because the party was in the morning. What was I going to do?

Yeah, I was going to plan. I was going to pre-measure my ingredients, I was going to wash dishes as I went and keep the space decently clean. And that’s what I did.
Because I needed 20 cupcakes of both chocolate and vanilla I did two batches of each (both of the recipes make anywhere between 12 and 14 cupcakes), and since the order included 10 strawberry cupcakes, I did one batch of those.

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It did take nearly all day to get through all five batches and two batches of frosting. What helped me was the pre-measuring, really.

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And knowing ahead of time what the plan was going to be. I knew that I did not want to make another batch of frosting after I made the second one, and since it was vanilla (and I knew I had more than twice what I needed for the two dozen cupcakes on my table), I just added some cocoa powder to it and all of a sudden it was chocolate frosting. Imagine that.

Part of what saved me was that I was listening to the radio while I was working. I knew that talk radio would keep me from getting bored with the repetitive task at hand, and so I was able to stay focused and chug right along. I was chugging so hard along the tracks of the cupcake-making train that I forgot to take pictures after I made the vanilla cupcakes. Such is life.

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I still have about 20% of my funds to raise in the next few weeks that I am home, so I’ll be baking some more. At least this time I know how to handle a large order with out a freak out.

These are the links to the recipes that I used. I find these recipes very effective, I have them printed out and have made each of them multiple times:
Vanilla
Strawberry
Chocolate 

PS
You may be wondering what happened to the extra cupcakes that were left over from the batches that weren’t sold for the Christmas party, and I can tell you that they went to a good place. The bellies of some firemen. There was a fire in town the same day as the party and so I gave the rest to the duty crew that responded.

PPS
MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Freyja had a little too much fun while helping decorate the tree.

Freyja had a little too much fun while helping decorate the tree.

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Quick Rolls

Sometimes time is short, sometimes patience is wearing thin, and sometimes you jus don’t have yeast in the cupboard. Sometimes this happens when you really, really want to have rolls with your dinner. Sometimes you have to make due with the self-rising flour that you do have, and search the web for a means of making rolls.

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I like that I found this recipe because the ingredients are things that we normally have in the fridge or cupboard, and that makes it easy. Also total time to make the dish, including clean up of the prep utensils, is less than 20 minutes. Not bad for rolls. Not bad at all.

All you need is self-rising flour, milk, mayonnaise, and a little sugar (you can follow the link above for quantities). I added a dash of garlic powder, although I couldn’t really taste it once they were cooked. To take it to the next level, though, one could add a combination of herbs, cheese, and salt to the dough and maybe make some rolls that remind oneself of a particular biscuit from a seafood restaurant.

That being said, these rolls are more like a dinner biscuit than a yeast roll. That’s okay, though. The moment you have the mix rolled you put in the oven for about 15 minutes, and thats all you do. You can’t complain, they taste great, the texture is good, and they are fast.

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I will definitely make these again, they are easy to do in the last minute, and pretty hard to mess up. You can flavor them to match the meal, or you can top them with butter and keep it simple. This is probably going to be a recipe I take back to school with me, and keep it in mind when it’s time to make a dinner for the hall.

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Where Have I Been?

Lots of places, but mostly not here. And by here I mean the blog, and my home town, and my own home. But this is okay, because I am growing up and becoming an adult person and that’s important. But I lot has happened since the end of my junior year, and all that you’ve seen is that I took accutane…

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Candy bar at my graduation party.

There’s been a lot more. Senior year was filled with happiness: I was a drum major, I took loads of AP classes, I chose where to go to college (I’m there now!), I went to prom, I graduated, and we held a party.

Then in the summer I died my hair pink, I went to camp, I learned to kick box, I went to Kings Island, and I packed for college. And let me just tell you, this first semester at school has been crazy busy, but crazy fun. I moved in a few days early for the honors program, I played paint twister with the girls on my hall, I made enchiladas for hall dinner, the hall tried our hand at synchronized swimming, I went to Zumba classes, I missed my cat and my kitchen, I     met an orange cat that was rather sweet, I ate a lot of Chick-fil-A, I went to classes, I got mail, I signed up to go to Uganda in May, I made new friends, painted my face like a deer for Halloween, passed all my tests, survived finals, and made it home in mostly one piece.

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Trying to mix enchilada filling in a plastic bowl with a small fork. Such is dorm life.

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Making enchiladas somewhat successfully.

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They made it into the oven. I count it as success. My hall mates liked them too, so that’s a plus.

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Orange campus cat.

But through all of the activities in which I participated, and all the events I attended, I did not blog about any of them. I did not make food and chronicle the process nor the outcome, and I felt like something was missing. My time was well invested in the activities I was doing, but I did not have a good source of stress relief nor did I have an activity that was just for me and my own satisfaction (apart from Netflix).

And that’s why I am back at it. I am planning on taking things a little more serious that I did a couple of years ago. Now it’s not for a grade, now it’s for me. And kind of for you, because I like you, and I’m glad that you like the blog.

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My Acne Journey

After not blogging for a year, there have been a lot of recipes and events that I really would like to write about, but one thing in particular really stands out, and that is my skin. This is not a food post, there are not cat pictures here, and this is going to be way more open, honest, and revealing that I have ever been on here.

If we start at the beginning of my acne journey we are in elementary school, fourth grade. I remember one of my friends commenting on a pimple I had say something along the lines of, “Congrats, you have your first pimple!” I know that it wasn’t malicious, but it stung enough that it stuck out in my mind for eight years. Ever since that moment I have been insecure about my skin, I wore makeup in middle school, I didn’t in high school because I was scared it would look cakey and people would talk about me behind my back. I use snapchat, but otherwise I avoided taking selfies because I did not want my skin in its acne-consumed state to be immortalized. My skin was always an issue for me, but things have started to change and I really want to share my progress.

In eighth grade I began going to a dermatologist, before that I had tried to use drug store products to clear my acne, to no avail. At the derm I was prescribed some antibiotics, which actually ended up hurting my stomach more than anything. This is was my skin looked like the summer after eighth grade. (Just a note about these photos, they are old or from an iPhone camera, not the best quality, sorry.)IMG_0003IMG_0002

After the antibiotics didn’t work, we tried BC and various topical treatments. Some of which actually progressed me forward.. Most, however, did not provide the results that I was desiring and left me with the painful (and really hard to treat) cystic acne. The time came when I was so frustrated with the state of my skin, in its non-progression, that I decided to talk to the derm about accutane, a harsh medicine that restricts oil production and can sometimes permanently clear acne. Accutane, the brand name (it isn’t sold anymore because of generic competitors) of isotretinoin, is extremely harsh stuff. It can cause disastrous birth defects if a female patient becomes pregnant while on it, as well as causing super dry skin and joint pain for most patients. Understandably both my parents and I were very cautious about going down the isotretinoin road. We ended up making the decision to talk to the derm about it, and a couple months later I was taking isotretinoin.

My skin went from having painful cystic acne like this (pardon the creepy eye):IMG_0008

To having less like this:IMG_0009

And finally to having nearly no visible cyctic acne, but still scarring, and pink hair:   IMG_0004

And finally what my skin looks like today:IMG_0005 IMG_0006

I know that my skin is still a ways off from being perfect, I may even go another month on the isotretinoin to make sure everything is gone for good. I still have scarring to deal with, but I don’t fear taking pictures because of my skin anymore. My skin has come leaps and bounds, and I am happy. I am grateful for the dermatologist and the office for being so understanding and supportive as well as being informative.

I wanted to share this journey, but in a way that I could give context about where I was coming from and why it’s been so hard and exciting to overcome. I’ll be back to food blogging one of these days, maybe.