From the Baraza: Guilty as Charged

This week the Baraza Residents address the question their guilty pleasures.

Geneva

Ah, the guilty pleasure. I should have been a dog as reward orientated as I tend to be. Usually, I gravitate toward food…dessert…chocolate…mmmm. Chocolate covered strawberries, chocolate chunk brownies,  chocolate chip muffins.  I’m also an ice cream fan.  Oddly enough though I prefer vanilla ice cream over chocolate.  Go figure.

Lately I have 2 treat front runners.

 Número uno is a Muscle Punch smoothie from Smoothie King.  If I know I’m driving by this place, I’m getting a smoothie. Why do I count it as a guilty pleasure?  Because it costs money I probably shouldn’t spend. Boo budget. 😛

My second go-to treat lately has been a batch (not all at once – I do have SOME restraint, folks) of chocolate chip cookies. This isn’t your usual recipe though.  It’s, sadly, much easier to make than your average Toll House recipe.  The cookies are, in my opinion, a little sweeter, but they are pretty dang tasty in their own right.  I originally made these to get rid of several yellow cake mixes we had amassed during Christmas (my husband makes a mean pound cake for his clients & I overestimated how many ingredients we needed…).  I can’t wait to try the chocolate cake version.  YUM.

I’ve included the yellow cake mix recipe for your enjoyment (because misery loves company?).
Pace yourself…
Photo from Betty Crocker recipe website

Betty Crocker Mix Easy Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 box Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® yellow cake mix
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 to 2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1.     Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pans). In large bowl, beat cake mix, butter, 1 tablespoon milk, vanilla and egg with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth, or mix with spoon. Mix in additional 1 tablespoon milk if dough is too dry. Stir in nuts and chocolate chips.
2.     Drop dough by slightly less than tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
3.     Bake cookies 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are set (centers will be soft and cookies will be very light in color).
4.     Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets to cooling rack.
5.     Store covered.
Yield is about 18 good sized cookies.**
** The site claims 3 1/2 doz., but those must be some skimpy cookies and homie don’t play that.

Tips & tricks:
1.     My (apparently huge) cookies tend to take at least 15 min.  I also like crispy edges, so the last batch I made (this morning – sigh) took more like 15-20 min per sheet of 9.
2.     I lined the cookie sheet with wax paper to facilitate transfer to the cooling rack.  I tried to move them with a spatula before they set and they fell apart on me.  😦  This way I can pre-load the paper, transfer to the sheet, bake, move all of them to the cooling rack at once, and load the next batch in a few swift moves (I’m a ninja baker…er, baking ninja?).  Plus, the cookie sheet stays pretty clean.  The downside – wax paper tends to smoke a bit, so be prepared when you open the oven door.

Hope you like them.

Amber

Answering this question is so difficult because I have no shame when it comes to enjoying traditional guilty pleasures. America’s Next Top Model? Seen every season at least once. Bon Jovi? Turn it up loud and proud. Spice Girls Movie? Saw it opening night at a movie theater in the Village and still consider it one of my best movie going experiences ever (sold out crowd including drag queens, spontaneous audience participation–it was like Rocky Horror). I relish lameness. That being said, I am, for whatever reason, deeply embarrassed to admit the following:

I love Enrique Iglesias songs. “Bailamos,” “Rhythm Divine,” “Escape,” “Don’t Turn Off the Lights,” “I Like It,” “Push,” and “Tired of Being Sorry”–when those songs come on, I turn up the volume full blast and sing like I’m in the battle round of The Voice. Sometimes I even imagine doing a cha cha on Dancing with the Stars to one of them. It is beyond me why this is my one pop culture shame, but it is. And now you know.

Erin

I’m not sure if we’re supposed to list one guilty pleasure, but I’ve got a list of them, unfortunately mostly food indulgences. Now to expose myself…Ben & Jerry’s Bonnaroo Buzz, Chocolove bars, a good triple cream cheese, decaf chai lattes, and if I ever have a soda it’s usually Virgil’s. I also get way too excited watching old episodes of “Saved by the Bell” (yes, even “The College Years”), “Family Matters”, and “The Torkelsons.”

Carrie

Creamy peanut butter!! My guilty pleasure is Jif creamy peanut butter.  I’ve tried natural peanut butter.  Crunchy peanut butter.    White chocolate peanut butter.  Reduced fat peanut butter.  But, there’s nothing quite like a spoonful of plain ‘ol creamy peanut butter.  On warm, toasted bread.  On a banana.  With chocolate.  All are perfect when paired with the simplicity of creamy peanut butter. 

Mitzi

My problem with the concept of guilty pleasure is the fact there are parameters of pleasure instead of accepting all forms of pleasure, regardless of the source.  While this may seem a bit liberal for me, it may just be a justification for my guilty pleasure: an afternoon drink.

I discovered this novelty while I was in graduate school and would enjoy spending an afternoon sitting with a friend in a local bar.  In fact, while I’m writing this post I’m enjoying a rather large frozen strawberry pina colada after two o’clock.

And there’s yet another guilty pleasure that I don’t want to be judged for: Melissa & Joey, a television show.  Melissa Joan Hart and Joey Lawrence star in this sitcom about a politician who hires an out of work stockbroker to be a “manny” to her niece and nephew she’s raising.  It’s cheesy, lame, and over the top, yet I found myself watching all of the episodes from season one.  The one good aspect about the show is Melissa is obviously not a size zero and looks like she’s healthy as opposed to be a stick insect.  That’s my excuse for watching it.

Got a question for the Baraza? Email us at barazapress@gmail.com.

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