What’s The #CookieKindness Project?

A few months ago a friend of mine was cleaning out their bookshelves and gifted me a few cookbooks she thought I’d enjoy (and she was correct, one of them is every recipe published from the San Francisco Chronicle). Capitol Cookies Cookbook was one of them. It’s subtitle reads, “Munch your way through the USA,” and is filled with each state’s “official” state cookie recipe…

…which sparked an idea. What if I bake my way through this cookbook and send each state’s “official” cookie recipe to someone living in each state? Now, I’ve got people all over the U.S. but not in EVERY state…What if I include my social media people and make it fun for everyone?

And that’s what I did. We’ve been shipping out cookies since the beginning of June and it’s been a huge hit. Check out the #CookieKindness Facebook Group for updates, recipes, and a chance to claim the next week’s box. If you want FIRST dibs, consider joining my Good Vibe Tribe (email list) by clicking here.

How does it work?

Every Friday I send out an email to my Good Vibe Tribe with the previous week’s state recipe with tips or tricks I learned after the first bake through. Then, I ask if anyone has someone living in that week’s state and to send me their name and address. The first person who sends me information, claims the box!

The box is filled with a half-dozen cookies, a hand written note explaining why they’re receiving the best piece of mail anyone could ever get, and a hand painted affirmation card which was donated by The Little Truths Studio in Oregon.

I am not charging anyone to send the boxes. My want is to inspire random acts of kindness because 2020 has been one helluva year and I feel like we could all use some good vibes and a reminder there is more good in the world than not.

Please consider joining us on this wild ride, who knows what’s going to come of it!

*Update, after many requests I have set up a Facebook fundraiser page for those who want to contribute to the #CookieKindness project. If you don’t feel comfortable giving Facebook your information, I’ve uploaded by Venmo QR code. A $20 donation covers the cost of ingredients and shipping but of course, any amount helps.

The Best [GF] & [V] Banana Bread Recipe, Ever.

This is the BEST gluten free and vegan banana bread recipe, ever. There’s also no added sugar, which makes it Paleo friendly for those of you who are into that kind of thing.

Continue reading The Best [GF] & [V] Banana Bread Recipe, Ever.

Lacy Cornmeal Pancakes with Strawberry Compote

In keeping with the breakfast trend, this month’s second recipe is Bon Appetit‘s Lacy Cornmeal Pancakes with Strawberry Compote. It was featured in their May magazine from a chef who cooks with inspiration from her South African roots.

Continue reading Lacy Cornmeal Pancakes with Strawberry Compote

Vegan Peanut Butter Roasted Banana Waffles

If you’re reading this opening line then congrats, you’re not a chicken and easily scared off by the word vegan.

Yes, it’s true, not all vegan recipes are created equally and I’ve made my fair share of them to see which ones are worth adding to my home menu.

BUT

When the words, peanut butter, roasted banana, and waffle, are in the title, how could you think it wouldn’t taste good? This combination had me at hello while thumbing through Thrive’s plant-based eats cookbook.

Before you look at the recipe I want to stress not to stress. Yes, it’s a bit tedious. Yes, there are a bunch of ingredients. Yes, it will be time consuming. What to remember? These damn waffles are worth it and you’ll be pleased with yourself at the end result.

Guaranteed.

Here’s the recipe and below are my notes to help you nail it your first try. And remember, if you don’t want it to be vegan or don’t have some of the vegan(fish) ingredients, swap them for what you do have!

peanut butter roasted banana waffle recipe

  1. Roast bananas: preheat oven to 400*F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Peel and cut bananas in half, lengthwise. Then line halves up on baking sheet, cut side up. Sprinkle with sugar and spices. Bake for 15-minutes or until caramelized.
  2. Prepare topping: whisk together peanut butter, water, and maple syrup until smooth.
  3. Make waffles: preheat waffle iron. I got my mini waffle iron from Target and LOVE it.
  4. Whisk together flours, baking powder, and salt in medium-sized bowl or large measuring cup.
  5. Whisk together peanut butter, sugars, milk and vinegar in a separate bowl. Then mash roasted bananas into the wet mixture until evenly combined.
  6. Lightly coat preheated waffle iron with butter or oil of choice and spoon about 1/4 cup of waffle batter onto iron, close and cook both sides. About 2-minutes per side.***
  7. Repeat until batter is upside up. Keep waffles warm in the oven until ready to serve.
  8. Top with maple peanut butter topping and fruit.

If you make these, for the love of Zeus tag me in your photo on Instagram @sjrandol so I can celebrate you for completing this whopper of a recipe!

My mentionables:

  • I yielded about 13 waffles using my mini DASH waffle iron from Target and honestly, it’s the perfect waffle size because I can eat two and say it’s technically only one. Tricks my brain!
  • I didn’t used 1/4 cup to scoop since my waffle iron was mini, instead I utilized my 1/8 cup (which is half of 1/4) and who knew I’d ever find a use for that thing.
  • From start to finish it took me a little over an hour to make, be sure you’re mentally prepared to fiddle with your waffles for at least 75 minutes.
  • A friend’s picky eater child loved every bite of these waffles, so if that doesn’t tell you anything…

There is absolutely NOTHING I would change about this recipe. I love it exactly the way it is, in fact, when I ate the second to last waffle I felt sad. Simply knowing there would only be one more left for my next meal was depressing.

I also feel compelled to tell you I ate these plain and straight out of my hand some mornings when I was in a rush. Double fisting roasted banana peanut butter waffles first thing in the a.m. isn’t a bad way to start the day.

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You don’t have to be a professional baker or cook to nail a fancy recipe. All you need to be is willing. 

If you make these tag me @sjrandol (Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!). I’d love to hear and see how you enjoyed them.

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Gourmet Makes Pop Tart Challenge Final Verdict

Last week my favorite YouTube series (Gourmet Makes) put out Claire Saffitz’s (show host/pastry chef) gourmet pop tart recipe and asked fans to give it a go, so I did because #quarantine.

It took me two days. I repeat, two freakin’ days. One day to prep the filling, pastry, and homemade sprinkles, and a whole day dedicated to assembly which took a little over 4 – hours from rolling out the dough to icing and sprinkling.

For some reason (ignorance is bliss, and I didn’t read the recipe in its entirety. Only read through each segment (pastry, filling, sprinkle) as needed) I thought making homemade sprinkles would be the worst bit.

I don’t have the greatest track record with patience and letting things dry. I’m thirty years old and still can’t manage to let my nails dry throughly before moving on to my next task. The day I don’t smudge one of my home manicures will be the day I finally figured out patience.

Luckily, I had enough wherewithal to think sprinkles were going to require the most time and should do them first. Unfortunately that brain power didn’t think it was necessary to double check my ingredients, and half way through Hubs had to run to the grocery store and pick up more powdered sugar and unsalted butter.

Biggest lesson I learned? Read the damn recipe. Read the damn recipe. Read the damn recipe. There is something to be said about the French saying, mise en place. Practice it while baking or cooking.

After piping out the sprinkles to dry, I moved on to the filling which is in my top three accomplishments of this entire recipe test. The strawberry jam tasted phenomenal!

The recipe calls for you to flavor to taste. I ended up using one whole juiced lemon and zest to balance out the vanilla extract and give my jammy filling the perfect about of lemony zest.

If you don’t enjoy a tart jam, don’t use the entire teaspoon of vanilla extract called for in the Bon Appetit recipe. The extract is strong and requires a whole lemon to balance out. If you want it less tart, cut the amount of extract in half if not by three quarters.

Biggest fack up? The pastry. No surprise there. When I cut into the finished product I noticed a thin line of uncooked dough…cue Claire’s sad music. Biggest bummer ever. Two days of work ended in mediocracy I could’ve prevented! Here’s what happened…

The recipe says to bake for 30 – 35 minutes; you’re looking for a golden bottom and pale top. When my first timer ( 30 minutes) went off I noted the semi-golden bottom and put them in for another 5 minutes.

When the second timer went off the bottoms had gotten more color but I had a weird feeling they could go for another five … but I worried I’d brown the tops and screw up its future toasting capabilities. So I went against my better judgment and pulled them out.

Did I mention I spent two flipping days on this gourmet project?! What a kick in the crotch I missed a home run by 3 – 5 minutes.

But did I mention the filling? SO GOOD.

You know what I’m second most proud about? How uniform and pretty my pop tarts ended up looking (which is not a skill I’m best known for) in the end. There really is a fine art to precision and uniformness. Shout out to all the pastry chefs out there who do this every day, you’re the real MVPs of the kitchen. For reals!

I’m happy to report my gourmet pop tarts held up nicely in the toaster (even though I forgot to add the vanilla and lemon juice to the icing…read the recipe, read the recipe, read the recipe)!

Would I make them again? 

LOL. How much longer are we going to be in quarantine? 😅

If I were going to make them again I’d buy the dough and sprinkles from the store. After having the homemade filling there’s no way I could settle for store bought jam. Plus it makes your house smell wonderful!

But honestly? Kelloggs does a damn fine job making pop tarts. The real question I have for you is … do you eat your pop tarts room temp or warm?

This is a question I struggle to answer because while nothing beats a warm pastry; I can never wait long enough for the filling to cool down. I always end up burning my tongue or the roof of my mouth with hot pastry jam. (Please see nail drying dilemma in the 4th paragraph)

Room temperature it is, don’t @ me. 😈

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Come join me on IG or Twitter or Facebook @sjrandol

ps: my third most proud accomplishment was completing this bake. It was one heck of a test! Especially my rolling skills!

The Ins and Outs of Empathy: Recapping Section Four Dare To Lead.

I have high respect for people who are great at empathy because it’s a rare skill set to find in others.

A lot of people will claim to be great at empathy because they’re sympathetic or give great advice. This isn’t empathy, for instance:

Continue reading The Ins and Outs of Empathy: Recapping Section Four Dare To Lead.

Taste Testing Lemon Crunch Cake by Martha

I know, I know. You thought my taste test recipes were a thing of the past. And they are, but I found this lost blog in my drafts and decided to jump on the opportunity to publish it and give myself a break this week.

Lemon flavor anything didn’t use to be a favorite of mine, but then I got hired into an office of lemon freaks and slowly became appreciative of what the lemon can offer.

An office birthday led me to stumbling on this Martha Stewart recipe and I have to say…it’s worth the work.

Continue reading Taste Testing Lemon Crunch Cake by Martha

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee Southern California Spots

Who loves the Netflix original Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee with Jerry Seinfeld? You can’t see me but both of my arms are in the air…I’m writing this sentence with my tongue.

There is also a small chance I want to visit all of the spots he goes to in the Southern California area since I live here…so I compiled a list (including the most recent season) of all the coffee spots the show has hit this far.

Here they are:

  1. JOHN O’GROATS, LOS ANGELES

  2. RAE’S DINER, SANTA MONICA

  3. JERRY’S DELI, STUDIO CITY, CA

  4. NORM’S DINER, LOS ANGELES

  5. MILLIE THE MALIBU KITCHEN, CALIFORNIA’S, LOS ANGELES

  6. FACTOR’S FAMOUS DELI, LOS ANGELES

  7. HANDSOME COFFEE ROASTERS, LOS ANGELES

  8. JONES COFFEE, PASADENA

  9. 212 PIER, SANTA MONICA

  10. ART’S DELI, STUDIO CITY

  11. NOVEL CAFE, SANTA MONICA

  12. CAFFE LUXXE, SANTA MONICA

  13. BRITE SPOT, LOS ANGELES

  14. KILLER CAFE, MARINA DEL REY

  15. MED CAFE, MARINA DEL REY

  16. INTELLIGENTSIA, VENICE

  17. DU-PAR’S RESTAURANT & BAKERY, STUDIO CITY

  18. ALFRED COFFEE & KITCHEN, LOS ANGELES

  19. 10 SPEED COFFEE, LOS ANGELES

  20. 101 COFFEE SHOP, LOS ANGELES

  21. THE HIGHLAND CAFE, LOS ANGELES

  22. HOUSE OF PIES, LOS ANGELES

  23. TRE LUNE, LOS ANGELES

  24. BEVERLY HILLS HOTEL, LOS ANGELES

  25. ESPRESSO PROFETA, LOS ANGELES

  26. GOOD STUFF, LOS ANGELES

  27. ROSE CAFE, LOS ANGELES

  28. CANTER’S DELI, LOS ANGELES

  29. LUNETTA, SANTA MONICA

  30. ROSCOS, LOS ANGELES

I’ve left iHop off the list…he went with the Inglorious Bastards star either in the first or second season. If I make it through the list then MAYBE I’ll visit it just to officially mark it as complete.

Do you have a similar situation? Which show and where is it do you want to go because of it? Tell me in the comments ❤

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RamblinRandol is my journey back to loving myself (which happens to include this type of randomness). It’s an open letter on how I’m growing through what I’ve been through. And like Maya Angelou said, “the ache for home lives in all of us…” It’s time for me to feel at home in my own skin.

Click here to be my digital penpal and receive an email from mwah twice a month or hang out with me on Instagram @sjrandol.