I created my own recipe for peanut butter cup fat bombs since I’m not patient enough to look through 5,000,000 blogs and find a good recipe that someone else wrote. And also, I’m too picky for my own good.
It’s been years since I followed any kind of strict diet, but I have a handful of guidelines I set for how I eat. One of those is to try to stick to sweets that are filling and low in sugar. This fits on both counts.
1 cup peanut butter 1 stick butter 2 tbsp honey Vanilla Cinnamon 1 cup chocolate bits Cacao nibs (optional)
Prepare a muffin pan by adding Halloween-themed cupcake papers to each little cup. This will not work if there aren’t ghosts on the paper. It’s the same principle as how, if a recipe says to use 1% milk and you want to use whole milk, you still have to use 1%. Someone who wrote a recipe said you have to do it, and now your arms are moving on their own, and you can’t stop them.
Melt the chocolate bits. I use dark chocolate since the whole point of these is to have something sweet that’s low in sugar. You can use a little extra if you want to be the type of fancy person who drizzles chocolate artfully on top of things. You don’t need a double boiler for this, no matter what anyone says. Stop living in fear.
While the chocolate is melting, sprinkle a bunch of cacao nibs into the bottom of each muffin cup. They make everything extra crunchy and chocolatey. Plus, ghosts like them.
Once the chocolate is melted, pour it into the bottom of the cups on top of the cacao nibs.
Melt the peanut butter, butter, and honey.
Add vanilla to this mixture. I’m not sure how much, even though I’ve made these numerous times. Half a teaspoon? A whole teaspoon? Just add some. You’re not going to fuck it up. Same goes for the cinnamon.
Pour the peanut butter mixture on top of the chocolate in the cups. Optionally, you could wait for the chocolate to harden first. But I didn’t put patience on the ingredients list, did I?
Now, if you’re fancy, add the chocolate drizzle to the top, and some extra cacao nibs to go with it.
I came up with a quick method for enchilada sauce that I am happy with.
Normally, I’m not a fan of recipes that use salsa. They’re too back-of-the-box recipe, shortcuts in the negative sense of the word, like when you think you’re going to save yourself a bunch of driving time, but then you end up on a shifty, haunted dirt road that just gets narrower and narrower until it’s basically a trail you have to back out of, and you curse your entire existence.
Anyway, after my recent discovery that canned enchilada sauce is even more underwhelming than I remembered, I decided there has to be a better way.
Salsa verde has the flavor profile I want in a green enchilada sauce, only without chopping tomatillos for a million years. It worked out to about 3/4 cup salsa verde with 2 cups or so of chicken broth, thickened with a bit of cornstarch. So far, it’s worked with at least one red salsa too.
I will never, never understand cake mix. Since cake has no nutritional value, its only function is to taste good. But if you make it from a mix, you end up with something more akin to aerated ceiling plaster with a hint of propylene glycol. Since it doesn’t taste good, it has no purpose.
I found both of these articles after I wrote “Are you sure you don’t want any?” Both the author and commenters on “How to Politely Pass on Dessert” are apparently much more considerate than I am–I hadn’t been thinking of this situation as a difficult one, just an annoying one. I expect others to accept a no-frills “no, thank you” as an answer. Not only do I not owe anyone an explanation, I’ve learned that it’s worse to give one–people try to counter your reasons, which is annoying when you have more than one reason, or just want to pass on dessert without telling someone your entire life story, dessert preferences, and digestive health. The article does have some good tips for people who aren’t quite as socially obtuse and uncompromising as I am.
The open letter spoke to me a lot more. I ended up focusing my own piece on the social aspects of one particular question, but a lot of what he wrote echoes parts that I took out of mine. In short: I’m picky about food, and I’m just not going to bother eating something unhealthy if I don’t truly love it.
It is a white-frosted cake edged with ripples and poofs of day-glo aqua created from an unfathomable amount of food dye. “Happy Birthday” is written in perfect school teacher penmanship, in some sort of color-coordinated bright shade that would make the 80s proud. And of course, there are handfuls of thick, round sprinkles, in case you needed to be bludgeoned over the head with the overall message: this is a festive fucking occasion.
I don’t want any cake.
Yes, I am sure, thank you. I don’t need to reexamine this decision.
It’s not about the cake. It’s not about the calories or sugar, or even the wheat, which I don’t digest well. It’s about you questioning my decision, which is among the most inconsequential decisions I will make in my life. Maybe I’m not actually sure? Maybe I haven’t thought it through enough? Maybe I should text a friend and see what they think.
Although it’s not limited to women, a lot of women are socialized to ask this, and in name of being a good host, to push food in general. I wasn’t socialized this way, and it’s not my personality either. I’m way on the other end of the spectrum: I forget to introduce people properly, and to offer them water or stale gluten-free granola bars until they’ve been over for hours.
But asking “are you sure you don’t want any?” isn’t hospitality; the dish has clearly already been offered at least once. That was hospitality. “Are you sure?” is pushiness disguised in a hideous leisure suit of unwanted fruit salad.
And yes, I see that you are putting the pile-of-pudding-and-Cool-Whip-thing in the fridge where it will be inaccessible for all time. Since I didn’t want any before, its sudden inavailability is a moot point.
On a similar note: yes, I’m sure I don’t want a seat. I drove to get here; I’ve already been sitting. “Are you sure?” is definitely not limited to one thing, which is why I didn’t add cake, alcohol, or children to the post title.
Don’t even try to turn something down if your weight is anywhere in the same solar system as skinny. At the lower end of my general weight range, it’s not enough for cake-pushers to ask, “Are you sure you don’t want any?” at minute-and-a-half intervals. At the lower end, they also add, “But you’re so skinny.”
The wise ass part of my brain would always think, “Yeah, I’m skinny because I’m not eating the cake.”
“Skinny” is an adjective that gets thrown at women below a certain weight, whether or not it’s an accurate term. You should eat the cake because you’re skinny. I’m not skinny, and in fact, have a fair amount of muscle. But that doesn’t matter either. Skinny people can turn down cake too.
And I still don’t want the cake.
If I say, “Next week I’m going to hop a train with nothing but a backpack, a notebook, and a toothbrush,” you should probably ask if I’m sure. You could say that it sounds like quite an adventure, but am I sure? Have I considered that the day-to-day of this might not be as romantic as it sounds, and that water is heavy but also necessary, and oh hey, that I have a kid?
If I say, “Tomorrow I’m going to go get a face tattoo so I can emulate my favorite Star Trek character, Chakotay,” you should question this too. Feel free to ask if Chakotay really is my favorite character, really, and if a face tattoo is the best way to pay him homage, and even if it is, is there the tiniest chance that a face tattoo will negatively impact a lot of the rest of my life?
If I say, “I am going to get a mountain lion as a pet,” you should absolutely feel free to ask if I’m sure, and to point out that I’m not big on cats, and that some aspects of this plan might need a little work, even if, technically, the lease allows us to have a cat.
But it’s not a major life decision or a ridiculous plan. It’s a pan of brownies. The top is shiny and crackly in the way that brownies from a mix usually are. Some of them have been mounded up on a paper plate in a heap that is several steps shy of decorative. Which doesn’t make them bad, but I don’t want any. Even if you don’t want to bring home most of a pan of brownies because you will be tempted to eat them all, and you didn’t substitute the applesauce for canola oil like Weight Watchers said, dammit, I don’t want them.
I am sure.
I am still sure, even though you asked again. The brownies are not my problem.
When I was little, I would float saltine crackers on my tomato soup, then nudge them down slowly into my bowl, watching the tomato lava well up into the crackers’ holes. “Stay on the raft, stay on the raft,” I would whisper in the voices of the doomed adventurers on the sadly absorbent raft. I don’t remember if my poor little soup adventurers managed to jump to the rim of the bowl, or if I was a morbid enough kid that they perished descending the crater of the Campbell’s Tomato Soup Volcano.
Tomato soup is as essential to my childhood as the sound of softballs hitting aluminum baseball bats and the hot, righteous tomato-red anger of yelling that it was Greg’s fault, not mine, slamming the door, and pulling at my own hair while scream-crying.
I figured I should add the last part because I always worry about sounding sappy, which I thought might happen after writing a list of childhood memories that turned out to be only one thing. Apparently, I also already forgot* that I lead with the tragic deaths of the tomato soup explorers.
Everything I do is overkill.
Anyway, speaking of scream-crying, this is exactly the brand of depression I was experiencing one particular night when it turned out that my partner would be working late and it would fall to me to provide dinner. This is the type of mental anguish which makes even searching for a tomato soup recipe overwhelming. The search was frustrating to begin with because, somewhere, we have a good recipe from when we first made homemade tomato soup back in 2007.
Back in 2007, tomato soup was still a mysterious thing. I had only ever tried it from a can, which is weird because I didn’t grow up eating a ton of processed food or stuff made from mixes. But Campbell’s tomato soup was a pantry staple. It was not a food composed of other ingredients, but a substance unto itself, a dull martian red liquid that could be listed as an ingredient in other recipes, such as meatloaf and hamburger pie. How many other soups can be listed as ingredients? There are no recipes that call for “an extra cup of tortilla soup, added at the end” or “corn chowder, added to the desired consistency.”
The only other soup that doubles as an ingredient is canned cream of mushroom, but I don’t know if “doubles” is the correct verb because I’ve never heard of anyone also eating cream of mushroom. It goes in green bean casserole**. That’s it. Then back in the corner. And when I say “corner,” I mean “dank dungeon with one of those giant, pendulous scythes.” I hate, hate, hate mushrooms, and for this reason, created an extremely factual infographic as a service to the world.
Back to the tomato soup. Combine a missing recipe with scream-crying depression, a baby I am responsible for taking care of, and the fact that I can’t chop onions anymore because of how quickly and painfully my eyes tear up. I can’t even chop a shallot, which is the size of the flesh at the base of my thumb. The weight of responsibility for cooking a meal–normally not one of my household chores–came to weigh on me like a couch being carried up two flights of stairs.
Why didn’t I order food out instead? I can’t remember why that wasn’t an option. Maybe I didn’t have the mental energy to dislodge the idea of tomato soup from my brain. Whatever the case, I arrived home from my parents’ house with a few tablespoons of dried minced onion and and some garlic cloves to get me started.
I sauteed the onion with butter, and burned it.
Luckily, I found that we had not been out of dried onion after all. I sauteed some more, and burned them again while focused on chopping the garlic.
But then everything clicked into place; I stopped burning things; the baby played nicely, banging jars on the floor and trying to sweep our filthy kitchen.
I prefer loose methods to recipes.
Here’s the tomato soup method I came up with:
Start with allium component–onion and garlic, in my case. Add tomato component along with other liquids: water or broth. Season while the liquids heat. Throw in a bay leaf, some Italian seasoning type stuff, if not Italian seasoning itself. Black pepper and crushed red pepper. Add dairy component–milk or cream, plus some Parmesan for the umami.
And here’s what’s in that:
A few tablespoons of dried minced onion A couple of tablespoons butter 3 cloves of garlic One 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes with added basil Italian seasoning, or similar Bay leaf Black pepper Crushed red pepper Salt A teaspoon of Better than Bouillon, veggie flavor A cup of water A little over a cup of milk
This made enough for two dinner-sized bowls of soup, and a couple mugs leftover to have with salad the next day.
Between the ingredient list and the directions, it ended up being a proto-recipe, one lacking in specific ingredients. Or does that lack make it a method? Either way, it’s something to throw together without finally-tuned spice blends, and in less-than-ideal conditions.
*If it makes it better, I don’t write in order. **And even that’s a stretch. It’s pretty easy to make a quick sauce of broth and cream instead.