Monday, April 8, 2013

Crafting: Quidditch Pong

Yesterday, while I nursed a slight hangover headache, I got together the pictures from Quidditch Pong. No action shots, but you should have seen these guys! My boyfriend and his brother absolutely dominated, and I'm scared to ask why my brother, who is seventeen and a half, was so good, too. (We play with water cups, so you are not required to drink alcohol to play.) I actually did not get a chance to play, nor did Brooke who still has never played beer pong! They switched to flip cup just as I was going out to the garage to get a game in, since it allows for more people to have fun. So we'll have to do this again, but it's someone else's turn to color all those cups (they got thrown away...).

Now I'm going to teach you how to do it yourself!

The Balls
Ping pong balls, however many you think you'll want. I suggest getting spares.
Gold spray paint

Well, so there was some debate on what to do for the balls. If you want to be accurate, they should probably be some sort of red, for Quaffles, since they're going through the hoops. One could also make the argument that since you're trying to get them into your opponents' cups, who are the players, it's like you're trying to hit the players. So you could paint them to be Bludgers. And then they're tiny little balls that go fucking EVERYWHERE if you miss, so they could be Snitches. Plus, shiny gold is just so pretty. And maybe I could have painted one of each, since we most often play teams of three. But how annoying would it be to buy whole cans of paint for one (or two; I made six total to have backups) ball each?

So, in the end, I decided shiny gold was the prettiest and made Snitches. If you're craftier than me, you can totally make cute little wings and stick them on, like in the inspiration picture. I opted out because I wasn't sure I'd have anything that wasn't so flimsy it'd break or dissolve in the water of the cups, and also I didn't want to mess with the aerodynamics of the ball. You could even try decorating with a gold sharpie and adding lines, like they did with paint in this amazing project that you should totally look at. I tried drawing on wings with silver and doing the lines and both looked really, really stupid, so I re-painted that one.

To make, simply buy a couple (or 36 *cough* cause that's totally necessary) ping pong balls and some spray paint. I bought metallic gold and they did not turn as reflective-shiny as I thought they might, but they're still metallic-ish, so I didn't care. Lay down a cloth, and spray. Use good spray painting techniques and get nice, pretty coats. I did mine a little too thick and got minor drippage, but when it was finished you couldn't tell.

The Cups
10-12 each red, green, yellow, and royal/navy blue Solo-type cups
3 or more each gold, silver, black, and bronze permanent markers

This was such a pain in the ass. They just took hours and hours to do. I picked up gold, silver, and bronze Sharpies and had some black. The three metallics should be available locally pretty much anywhere in their own three-pack. You can also find two-packs of gold and silver, which are the ones I needed the most of. Bronze seemed to be the best of the metallics at covering. Black was best overall.

I was able to find red, of course, with no trouble. You can find those anywhere. In fact, I had to buy 100 of them at once at Walmart because they don't come in overpriced small-count packs. I think I paid as much or less for that than the fifty-count of the green or yellow.

The blue cups came from our mutual friend Dani, who had them leftover from a party she once had. Yellow and green I had to get on Amazon. Even though I was looking right before St. Patty's and Easter, I couldn't find them. And Erik told me he saw them both at Walmart when he went without me, but the next day I went and they were gone, so he was probably crazy. As for the designs, once I couldn't get them all matching, I decided they had to all be different, so once I found the green (and I swear it's not as blue as the pictures look) I couldn't use the same version of yellow and the yellow I picked was a bit too banana yellow. It didn't look bad, though, once they were colored.

I suggest buying more Sharpies than you think you'll need because I needed more gold and silver than just three (especially gold), but wasn't going to go get more. Also, be patient and work carefully. Find a good order and stick with it. Don't let yourself get too frustrated or feel too rushed or you'll mess up a lot. I did. Also be careful to work up or down from the base of the cup in whichever direction means you'll touch the least amount of Sharpie. It dries fast, but you could still get it on your hands and smudge. You don't want that.

Or you could be less neurotic than me and just use the cups plain like a normal person. I'm not normal, though, and I suppose if you're looking at and reading all of this, you're not either. So turn on some good zone-out music, maybe get a friend you trust not to make a mess of it, and start scribbling!

Just to note, I used all the spare cups as the cups offered to my guests. As the packs were all (except red) 40-50, I put out approximately 30 of each, which was way too much but looked cool stacked in a row, and offered the different Sharpies for people to write their names. It allowed people to use their own House's cups for their drinks, regardless of which House cocktail they ended up drinking and was an extra-mile touch everyone enjoyed.

By the way, sorry about the process photos. I took them with an iPod.

The Hoops
3 wooden embroidery hoops, 5" diameter (or maybe 6", I can't remember...)
A thin dowel, approx 47" long
Duct tape
Really trippy silicone trivets my dad got at work...
Screws of some sort
Hot glue and hot glue gun
My dad

This was the part you were all waiting for, right? So I totally improvised all of this, based again off the inspiration photo. I think they used wire of some sort, perhaps old hangers. I found cheap (cheap for embroidery hoops, at least) wooden embroidery hoops at Michael's, but was going to probably try destroying some wire hangers if I hadn't.

I knew I'd use thin dowels for the stems and my dad happened to have one that would slice three ways perfectly. I went to him asking what he suggested using as a base so they'd be sturdy. He suggested using these cool trivets he'd gotten as a sample at work and screwing through them. The trivets are really neat and if I knew what the company is that makes them, I would totally promote them right now, but I don't. The arms fold up and make them compact and adorable, plus cool colors.

I had my dad do basically all of the hard work for these, which would have happened no matter what since he owns all of the power tools (he's works in hardware and tools, pretty high up the food chain at the company now, which is why their house is so pretty and massive and good for picture times). The dowel came to a little over 47", I believe. We cut the two side stems to around 13" or 14" and made "the rest" the middle hoop. Now, after throwing the balls around, I do wish the side hoops had been a tiny bit taller, making for easier shots, but because of height and their position on the sides, they were worth more points.

My dad drilled holes as straight as possible into the middle of the dowels, which wasn't entirely straight, but it was still awesome. Then he drilled through the middle of the trivets and screwed them into the dowels. Fantastic!

Now, I know not everyone is going to have these trivets. Really, I think no one will, and if you do, you're not going to risk destroying them (though ours are still in great shape). I suggest a one- to two-inch or so thick square block of wood. Whatever you think will be sturdy.

Next, we hot glued the inner pieces of the hoops (the solid pieces, not the pieces with the clamps) to the other end of the dowels and voila! Perfect hoops.

The next day, I used duct tape to cover the stems and hoops. Why didn't I just spray paint them with the left-over gold spray paint, which would probably have looked awesome? Well, for one, I wanted to make the hoops a little more sturdy. Also, the wood was a bit rough and I was afraid of splinters. The dark tape also made them more visible. Most importantly, I couldn't spray paint the trivets because my mom wants them back to use in the kitchen now. I could have unscrewed them and spray painted and then screwed back together, but that's a pain in the ass.

So then the next day I duct taped. There is no super easy trick for the hoops. I laid them lengthwise and then wrapped that, but because of the curve, there was a lot of stretching and it got rumply, but I don't think it messed up the look too badly. I do suggest ripping long stretches of tape for the stems and laying them down the length and wrapping them that way, rather than  wrapping several small pieces that will make it look kind of janky as they overlap and get bumpy or whatever.

Finally, when you play, whatever you use for a base, I suggest taping it to the table. This will prevent anyone bumping them or knocking them over with the balls, and it'll keep them exactly spaced and centered where you wanted them. Also, place them pretty close together. In the header picture you can see them rather far apart, which I rectified. It was impossible to get anything through the side hoops and into any cups except to two very edge ones in the row of four, if you were lucky. You'll see in these pictures that I fixed that with help from my mom eyeballing it.

Set up your cups, fill them with whatever you decide to use, and go! I made eleven per "team" and since we used water, each team had a "reserve player" in case one of them got smashed, and there were also more that I hadn't colored, which I've mentioned. This spare cup could also be your water cup if you do it traditionally and put beer in the cups.

Bonus: House Rules!
I typed up and printed out a paper with the house rules because everyone always needs to know what the house rules are. I'm relatively new to the world of beer pong, though, so it boggles my mind when people start going on and on about "well, do you guys allow...?" and "okay, but what about...?" I will never fully understand what they mean when they ask, "Do you do islands?" which is apparently something to do with calling the cup you're aiming for and getting two cups removed because you called it, which I thought was the same thing as just calling a cup, but might be different because the island is any cup that gets isolated from the rest as cups are taken away.

Yeah, this is why I wrote the rules down. Did you know there's an actual Beer Pong League? We got official cups with a triangular tray that had holes to hold them for Erik's brothers at Christmas. They make whole folding tables and have a logo and everything.

Well, I had to cup up with new scoring and such, plus outline what common rules we do and don't use. The game was pretty easy to figure out, though, once we figured it all out. If I can ever figure out how to link up a download on here, I will upload the document I used. It's pretty and has columns and special Harry Potter fonts, including a lineart Snitch. I will paste the rules themselves in here. If you have any suggestions, I welcome them!

Get the title font here and the dingbat font here, both free.

It looked so badass.
  1. Fill each cup with water, not beer, please. Drink whatever your own drink is when your team loses a cup. (Thus, yes, you are more than welcome to play with soda instead of alcohol.)
  2. Pick your players’ robes! (Pick your Solo cup colors.) Winner of the last round picks first.
    1. The first match of the night must be Gryffindor v. Slytherin and the older player picks first
    2. No inter-House (Gryffindor v. Gryffindor, etc.) matches.
    3. Red = Gryffindor. Blue = Ravenclaw. Green = Slytherin. Yellow = Hufflepuff.
  3. Play one-on-one, two-on-two, or three-on-three, up to three Snitches (ping pong balls) in play per game.
  4. Each “point” is a cup removed. Unless all the players agree otherwise before the match, this is how the points work:
    1. Through the side hoops and into a cup is three points.
    2. Through the middle hoop and into a cup is two points.
    3. A bounce into a cup, but not through a hoop is two points.
    4. A trick shot (off the wall, the overhang, or the top of a hoop but not through) is two points.
    5. Through no hoops, but still into a cup, is one point.
    6. If the ball is bounced, then makes it through any hoop, and then makes it into a cup (all in that order), you have “caught the Snitch” and get six points. This shot is susceptible to bludgers (see next rule). [Note: This turned out surprisingly easy to perform through the middle hoop, but because it could be hit out of the way or caught since it had bounced, it was still very valuable and pretty much never happened.]
  5. Bludgers are allowed unless the players agree otherwise before the match. A bludger is when a player hits the ball out of the way or catches it, only allowed after it bounces.
  6. If a player does not make the Snitch into a cup and it lands on the table but does not roll onto the floor and that team manages to get it back, they can shoot again. The same player must make the shot with their opposite hand and it counts for the same amount of points as a normal shot.
  7. No “celebrities” (calling someone to step in for your shot for a turn). However, if someone needs to step away, one of their current teammates can shoot for them until they return. If someone wants to quit playing for the rest of the game, someone else can take their place, but the player that resigned cannot play again that game and must wait until the next game.
  8. If the Snitch is circling in a cup, the Snitch can be blown out, but not flicked out.
We did not enforce the "you lost a cup, now chug" rule. We never do when we play with water cups. For us, it is more about who's good at pong and whatnot, not getting people shit-faced.

And that's all! I really hope everyone has fun with this! Please, link up to example posts and pictures if you play!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Drinks: Harry Potter House Mixology

Hello, everyone! I mentioned my Harry Potter birthday and I promised cocktails and crafty things. We'll start with cocktails.

Well, we stayed up late last night testing the cocktails and perfecting them. My testers were myself and Erik, as well as my brother and parents. My brother and my mom seemed to agree on everything, even when we didn't like their opinion. It took five tries to get a working Ravenclaw. I followed a recipe for something online, but it turned out a little too green (it went into lemonade). Then OH MY LORD the next three were horrible. Then, eureka! Sweet and Sour! And it was perfect.

Full credit to The Little Pink Blog for their butterbeer recipe. You should read and try all of their amazing creations, I just have a tight budget, small crowd, and too little patience for their amazing, but complex recipes.

NEXT DAY EDIT: I had one cup of Ravenclaw, one cup of Hufflepuff, and a beer and I was completely sloshed. No one else had as much trouble as me, and I'm not a lightweight, so maybe Brooke just slipped me something (kidding?). However, you may want to consider weakening these. Only the Gryffindor and Butterbeer are probably going to not need edits.

The Gryffindor
You might belong in Gryffindor,
Where dwell the brave at heart,
Their daring, nerve, and chivalry
Set Gryffindors apart.

A tart red drink highlights the rich scarlet color and boldness that defines Gryffindor.


3 parts Northland cranberry-pomegranate juice
1 part rum
Splash of energy drink

Serve over ice.

I used regular cranberry juice and Monster due to availability and price and it was delicious. However, you might try Red Bull. The cranberry-pomegranate juice is the way I make any vodka-rum or vodka-cranberry now that I've had it and Northland has the best non-cocktail brand. I can't explain what it does, but it's epic. And instead of the traditional lime juice, we also always use sour mix. I had everyone blind taste test, though, and they picked the Monster version, which I thought was way more Gryffindor, anyway. (As is rum over vodka.) If you're making a large quantity, I recommend maybe 1/4 part energy. (So, 12 parts cranberry, 4 parts rum, 1 part energy.) Experiment and share your thoughts!

(Please ignore the slightly less sharp picture and the drops on the glass. We did Gryffindor last and, obviously, I had lost the ability to care by then.)

The Hufflepuff
You might belong in Hufflepuff, 
Where they are just and loyal, 
Those patient Hufflepuffs are true 
And unafraid of toil.

A sweet sunshine-yellow drink is best for this kind house.

1 part orange juice
2 parts pineapple juice
1 part vodka

Serve over ice.

I have absolutely no idea where this came from. I really don't. I'm convinced I did not come up with it myself because I don't think I would have thought of pineapple juice, but I can't find it. Maybe I did come up with it. Well, this was originally written down as 1 part each, and the vodka was citrus vodka. To save a buck, my mom convinced me to buy plain vodka. Well, I don't know if that was the cause, but the drink was far too strong. I'm convinced that citrus vodka would have done the trick. It was still delicious and we just decided to double the pineapple juice. Voila!

NEXT DAY EDIT: This was my personal favorite and the top of a lot of people's lists. It is very strong, but deceptively so. With how sweet it is, be careful with this one! Especially if you use citrus vodka instead, which will be even harder to taste.

The Ravenclaw
Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw, 
if you've a ready mind, 
Where those of wit and learning, 
Will always find their kind.

A effervescent blue cocktail is a smart drink for a clever House.

1 part vodka
2 parts curacao
5 parts Sprite
1 part sour mix

Serve over ice.

I mean it when I say this took five tries. I began with this recipe from the UV website (note: must be 21 to enter). If you ever need a flavored vodka, they are the way to go. UV Blue in pink lemonade? Genius! Please note that we had to use the Burnett's, which is a worthy second place for a better price and higher availability. Then the lemonade made it just a little too aqua, not blue. So we tried Sprite and holy BALLS, Batman! Cough syrup! (We're convinced UV would have mixed better.)

So my mom eventually suggested curacao. Genius! And the blue! But then we had to add vodka because curacao is weak. We went with plain vodka now. HORRIBLE. I added sour! Eureka! It made it a little less electric blue, but it was still a brilliant color. If you're making one drink, just add a splash or two until the taste is right, but the proportions above should help with pre-making for a party.

Who knew it would be so hard to get a blue alcoholic beverage?

The Slytherin
Or perhaps in Slytherin 
You'll make your real friends, 
Those cunning folks use any means 
To achieve their ends. 

This bitter green potion goes well with this prideful house.

1 part UV Blue
3 parts orange juice
Splash of sour mix

Serve chilled. Ice only if necessary.

This was so easy. We knew we liked UV Blue in orange juice. We've always eyeballed it, but finalized this as a good proportion, but mix according to your taste and color preferences. I prefer it a little weaker, at least to start, but this made a great green, and it was cloudy, but with a more transparent top, because of the orange juice. In the right cup and with the right orange juice, it looks like slime. It's also a bit bitter, but strangely addictive (seductive, perhaps?). Perfect Slytherin drink.

The splash of sour is similar to the energy in the Gryffindor. I'd use 1/4 part when making for a large crowd. It's to taste, and remember it will add a tiny bit of yellow color.

NEXT DAY EDIT: I want to let everyone know that when made in bulk, the color was quite off for me and instead of the sour, I used curacao to fix it and did not measure, but instead just poured it in to get the right color. It was still at the top of almost everyone's list.

The Butterbeer
Butterbeer is a very popular drink served cold in bottles or hot by the mug at the Three Broomsticks or The Hog's Head in Hogsmeade. It appears to have the ability to instantly warm up a wizard on a cold day, but is also popular cold in the summer. House-elves can get drunk on butterbeer, but it doesn't have that effect on humans. How is butterbeer made and what does it taste like? When asked about this by "Bon Appetit" magazine, JKR responded: "I made it up. I imagine it to taste a little bit like less-sickly butterscotch."

Enjoy this version for Muggles, created by The Little Pink Blog.

5 parts cream soda
1 part butterscotch schnapps
Whipped cream

Serve chilled without ice. Top with whipped cream.

This was the favorite sample, with and without whipped cream. It's the lowest in alcohol content and tastes just like a nice, smooth butterscotch, but more caramel-y. Like JKR had said, "less-sickly butterscotch." Yum!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Sneak Peak: Harry Potter Birthday

Cross-posted from my personal blog.

My birthday was this past Friday (the 29th) and I have my party Saturday. Well, I'm going full-on nerd this year and having a Harry Potter themed party. Now, of course, it's going to take some creative thinking to do this right and still entertain a diverse group of adults. I have found a few things to spice it up and keep everyone happy. For one thing, I instructed that everyone wear something themed, be it just a plain red shirt, or full costume. I linked to Pottermore so that people could get Sorted, but also provided links to the hp-lexicon House pages and a quick "these are the colors and this is the mascot" for each house on the FB event page. And I'm pretty sure I know two people that will be clueless and I know which of them will be at fault, but we love them anyway. XD

So, one of the things I'm doing is House cocktails. These were inspired by these amazing creations, however I've ended up, due to budget and ease, inventing my own for all four Houses. I will still be using their Butterbeer, though. I will post each cocktail on here once I finalize them and make pictures for samples.

Now the other thing is Quidditch Pong. You've possibly seen it around on the internet. It has its own crazy rules and everything, but I'm making my own version of this as well. I have not finished building the hoops, but I've begun, with pretty much all of the hard work on the hoops being done by my dad. When I get them all done, including the awesome custom cups I'm making, I will show you what I've got. Now, though, you get a sneak peak! (Mainly because I'm too excited to wait.)

First, a few shots of the first Gryffindor cup. I used gold, silver, bronze, and black Sharpies for each house, on appropriately colored cups. (Do you know how hard it is to find the right colors, though? I Amazoned the green and yellow, and a friend found the right navy blue. Red was easy, obviously.)

Now I have to show you what my dad and I thought up for the hoops.

 Now, basically, those Xs are some badass folding trivets that my dad got as a sample from someone at work, but I think some kind of wooden X or block would work, too. I'll get all into the process when I post a full post about this brilliance.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Meal: Cheesy Chicken

Cheesy Chicken | parmesan, garlic, and herbs | #chicken #parmesan #baked
I originally posted this on my personal blog. Click the link under the header for Broke Mama J's Egg of the Phoenix!

Cheesy Chicken

Okay, I'll start by telling you I made this up today off the top of my head. I have an idea to finish perfecting it, but oh my God it was still delicious. I promised to share the recipe.

Chicken breasts
Parmesan cheese, at least one full regular-sized canister for six breasts
Seasonings of your choice (I picked a McCormick garlic and herb thing)
Olive oil

I preheated the oven to 350 according to these instructions.

Line a Pyrex or similar dish with foil and spray it with your choice of oil or cooking spray. I used a pump sprayer with olive oil. I then sprinkled a little parmesan cheese. I don't know why I did this and you don't have to. I just... did.

I poured olive oil into a large bowl. I washed my chicken breasts to get the preservatives off them, according to that above link. I like that they felt less greasy once I had. It felt cleaner. Anyway, then I plunked them in the bowl, usually two at a time so I didn't have to fill the bowl too much. After trying with several different utensils, I gave up and mixed it around with my hands.

I first attempted pouring cheese on a plate with high-ish sides. I mixed in some of my seasoning, plopped the chicken on and tried to pat it on. The method I settled on was just dropping the chicken on an empty plate, sprinkling seasoning, sprinkling a bunch of cheese, and patting it all on with my hands. Near the end I'd put a bunch of seasoning in my olive oil bowl, which deposited some of it, but I still had to sprinkle it on the chicken, so I think it was a waste.

As I coated them, I placed them on the foil. I sprinkled extra seasoning and cheese on top, and then I drizzled (okay, splashed; I'm not good at drizzling) some of the remaining seasoned EVOO from the bowl on top. I baked it for 25 minutes and the meat thermometer read just over 160, but when I took it out the thermometer dropped and I tested it and it was pink inside. Total cook time was 40 minutes.

It was delicious! Super tender, probably from all the oil in the pan. I put it next to so Pastaroni Angel Hair Pasta, the Parmesan version. Now, I didn't write this as a traditional recipe (Do this, then do this...) for a reason. I made this up as I went, and I wanted to point out the weird things I tried. Now that it's done, the flavor was perfect, but I want to try mixing in some breadcrumbs with the cheese, for a better coating texture, and/or trying an alternative to coating it with EVOO. Brooke at The Circle Married the Line suggested mayo or yogurt, both of which I hate. Having been assured you don't really taste the mayo, I want to try that next.

So I left this recipe a bit open-ended. I will make this again soon and try new things. But if anyone attempts it, or has made similar recipes, tell me what you do/did differently. Lets make a recipe, ladies!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Admin: About That...

So we've been gone for a while now. Brooke has made cookies and wonderful meals, but has neglected to take pictures. I was at a new job for about eight weeks until I lost it (it was a temp job), and the recent project I did has been packed before I photographed it. We're moving out of my parents' house and I made coasters myself, but I need pictures to post for you all. I also did the Sharpie on Dollar Tree plates project and I have pictures, but not on my personal laptop. They're on my mom's computer. I also have pictures from my most recent baking adventure on her laptop because mine stopped reading SD cards. So it's all crazy.

But soon you may get projects!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Sweets: Hot Fudge Sundae Oreo Brownies

Wow. I've been meaning to post this for almost two weeks now. Guess who procrastinates? This girl!

I had my six-week post-partum OB back on the 16th. Guess what that meant. A pap smear and cervical check including the spread-you-device and something clamping down on my cervix. Yeah, you heard me. So I think that I am perfectly justified in my baking exploits that evening. Even if it means the product was taken from the oven at 12:30am.

You could not consider me brownies' biggest fan. I like them, of course. And who doesn't love a well-made brownie à la mode? I like mine with chocolate and caramel sauce. But I will often pass if the offered treats are brownies and I don't usually care about making them myself. I'm also one of the weirdos that prefers them room temperature rather than warmed up. They're too dark when they're warm. (My mom isn't sure I wasn't switched at birth. The only thing that keeps her faith in me is my love for buttercream icing. Because that shit is special.)

So you ask now, then why did you make the very first post in this blog a brownie recipe? Because this looked like a spectacular recipe, duh. I found this a while ago and saved it in my Scrivener recipe book, but the computer crapped out and I hadn't backed it up. I found it again. My very favorite baking blog is
Buns in my Oven, written by a woman named Karly. I don't usually follow food blogs because to be perfectly honest, I'm a super picky person. I don't care for most foods and desserts in a lot of the food blogs I've seen, so I'll just pin individual recipes or put them in my Scrivener recipe book (that I am currently working on turning into a real recipe binder). But the overwhelming majority of what she makes, at least on a dessert level, looks appetizing to me. And if not me, I think someone in my family might enjoy it.

This recipe is for her Hot Fudge Sundae Oreo Brownies. It's a fingerful to type out too many times, so we're calling them Oreo Brownies from here on. They made brownies sound like a good idea. Besides, my parents, who I'm staying with right now, are going to sell their house soon and want to eat down the pantry. Win win for everyone, right? Especially for my mom and brother who love brownies.

The recipe isn't overly complicated, but you don't follow the box instructions. You need to add a few extra things. Delicious things. Like Oreos.

And ice cream and hot fudge sauce. 
I particularly liked that part.

Is it just me or does the ice cream look gross here?
So first thing's first. You heat up the oven and then have to go about measuring everything out. I suck at this. Not measuring, but thinking ahead. Often I get to the end rush part of a recipe - any recipe - and start flailing because why the hell haven't I measured the milk yet, or something like that. And baking is worse because you have so many things coming together at once throughout the whole thing and you have to have everything ready.

I did a good job this time. I measured everything. I heated the fudge up at the right time and had the ice cream out and measured. I had the eggs I needed and the pan greased. I only wish I'd softened the ice cream a bit because it was a teensy bit hard to mix at first. However, cookies and cream has never been something I've considered a very hard ice cream, so it worked fine how it was.

So after you get everything measured out perfectly, you get your bowl and mixer ready. I suppose you could use a stand mixer, but what is the point of hauling one of those out for brownies? My mom keeps hers on the counter and it's still too much of a pain in my ass. I just use the hand mixer for anything but cookies. Cookies need the heavy duty equipment.

You put in your box of mix with the oil and eggs it calls for. You omit the water or milk called for on the box. You add a quarter cup hot fudge sauce (don't overheat unless you're fond of burns cause it
hurt) and six ounces of cookies and cream ice cream. If you're like me, you'll have to reference the markings on the measuring cup to remember that's three-quarters of a cup. I just saved you the confusion.

There are eight ounces in a cup. There you go.

Now, I've been told it's perfectly acceptable to use regular chocolate ice cream sauce if you can't find/don't have hot fudge sauce. It just probably will result in less fudgy brownies. I used the Chocolate Fudge variety because it's what my mom had in her pantry, but I still used hot fudge after I found it hiding in the back of the fridge.

Does hot fudge have an expiration date?

Next you mix mix mix until it's... well, until it's mixed. I know how regular brownie mix is supposed to look. I guess I ran the risk of over mixing to try and get the ice cream incorporated, but it still ended up looking the way it's supposed to, where it looks like tiny bubbles or clumps or something are floating all over in it? Yeah that. It looked right.

...and delicious. Mmmm... Salmonella... Come to mama!
Yeah, I licked some batter. What of it?

Next, spread it. You only want to put in half the batter at this point. You still need to put in your cookies. Spread the mix evenly in the pan (and she's not kidding that the mixture will be thick).

Now, let me stop here to note that Karly uses parchment paper for most of her recipes. I did one time when I made dog biscuits and I was glad for it, but I went ahead and just greased my Pyrex like the box told me to and like I would normally do anyway. However, later on there was a lot of sticking to the glass. I don't know if that's because I should have used the paper or I didn't grease it enough (I used cooking spray) or it was just stickier from the fudge and/or ice cream in the mix. I don't know. I might try paper next time.

After you pour the first half of your batter, add your cookies. Push them in, but try not to touch the bottom of the Pyrex. I used exactly fifteen Oreos. It was a good number. You could probably use twelve, ten, or even eight if you want giant brownies, but I thought they were pretty big enough as it was. Another idea: if you want very small brownies, maybe try doing this with the mini Oreos. I have no idea how that'll turn out, though.

Now, I think I ran into my first problem here. I used the Double Stuf Oreos. I
love the Double Stuf ones and they happened to have a family size pack that was cheaper than two packs because now they make the packs stupidly tiny and I was going to need more than one pack. however, do you see how high they're sticking up above the mix? I had a really hard time covering them. I know from her pictures that it was easy to see where the Oreos were when she did it, but I think mine was ridiculous. I think it also had a negative effect on the outcome.

Now as you probably already figured out, the next step is to cover the Oreos with the rest of the batter. This is very difficult. The batter is thick, which helps it cover the top without running off, but it also makes it very hard to spread without removing from the Oreos you already covered. I think using the Double Stuf was also a part of the problem, as I've mentioned.

Once you have them covered, it's into the oven with them. They have a very long cook time compared to normal brownies. You're supposed to bake them for 40 to 45 minutes. Until the toothpick comes mostly clean.

That was the trick for me.

The mostly clean part. I didn't read that carefully and baked them for a whole 47 minutes. I probably should have stopped by 43 at the latest. But I kept sticking the toothpick in looking for perfectly clean, which never happened. I gave up at 47 before realizing my mistake.

So then they had to cool. They smelled and looked delicious. Being able to see the Oreos gave me guidelines for cutting them, even though they had ended up not perfectly straight anymore once I poured the second half of the batter. I couldn't wait to divvy up and dig in. It was almost one for goodness sake!

See how hard my dog begged? They smelled that good. (Then again, he begs for everything.)

Looked good, too, right?

Not as much now, though, I think, but you can see how wonderfully moist they were. So chewy, too.

This is where my story doesn't have a happy ending. I genuinely think it was my fault. Between the Double Stuf Oreos and cooking them too long, I think I screwed up.When I ate the brownies, the brownie part was spectacular and the cookie turned soft like Oreo cookies need to do before you can eat them. (See here for a tip on dunking them without getting your fingers wet. It's genius. I also have a girl crush on Karly.) However, the cream became hard. It seemed to shrink, too, which you can't really see in the picture. 

It didn't hurt your teeth or anything, but it was noticeable and made for a rather unpleasant experience with what should have been
orgasmic wonderful.

Overall verdict? I don't know how soon I'll try these again. But when I do, I'll use regular Oreos. And I won't wait for a squeaky clean toothpick.

These have probably become my new method for regular brownies, though. The ice cream and fudge, at least. I liked that. I'll probably crush up Oreos and mix them in as a compromise since my mom wasn't a fan. We'll see!

That's it for my experimenting. Mom's destroying the kitchen with her preliminary packing and it's too hot to turn on the oven again, so it may be a while before I make something food-y again. Brooke made snickerdoodles yesterday, but she neglected to photograph.

What a whore.

Until next time!