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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Cookbook Cookbook Review - Crazy About Cookies, By Krystina Castella

I recently got a copy of Crazy About Cookies - 300 Scrumptious Recipes For Every Occasion & Craving, by Krystina Castella. What perfect timing! It's Christmas Cookie baking time and can't we all use some new recipes?

What an awesome cookie cookbook! Tons of great full-color photographs. (And you know I'm all about the photos when it comes to recipes.)
Here are the chapters:
1. Cookies in the know
2. Everyday cookies
3. Party cookies
4. Occasions cookies
5. Holiday cookies
6. Christmas cookies
Templates for Cookie Construction
"Throughout the book you'll notice a heart shaped icon. Each indicates a healthier (and equally delicious option for a recipe, where there is less sugar (sweetened only with juices and honey) fruit and veggie (extra vitamins), energy cookies and bars (extra vitamins and full proteins), low fat (less fat and healthy fats), gluten-free (no wheat, barley, rye), and vegan (no animal products)."
Now I know what you're's the holidays...out the window with the weight watching, but not for me. I'm holding firm on my diet plan and so long as they are "equally delicious", I'm all for it. I intend to try out several of the recipes over the coming days and I'll let you know. I can't wait to try out the Banana Oatmeal Cookies (page 59). I love bananas and I love oatmeal cookies, so these should be awesome!
I can't wait to try the Biscotti recipe!

From the publisher:
"Bakers everywhere went crazy over Krystina Castella's Crazy About Cupcakes, and will go completely wild over these 300 clever cookie recipes. The baking phenomenon whips up delicious riffs on the classics and more adventurous offerings (like savory cornmeal olive cookies). There's something for every occasion, from melt-in-your-mouth after-school snacks to fun Christmas cookie constructions. A basics section on doughs, toppings and decoration techniques makes this the cookie foundation every creative foodie needs."
About the Author from
"Krystina Castella is obsessed with playing in the kitchen and sharing recipes with others that are tasty and beautiful. Krystina is the author of Crazy about Cupcakes (Sterling 2006), Crazy about Cookies (Sterling 2010, Pops! Icy Treats for Everyone (Quirk Books, 2008) and co-author of Booze Cakes (Quirk Books 2010). She is also co-author/ photographer of the children's book Discovering Nature's Alphabet (Heyday 2006). She lives and works near Los Angeles as a writer, industrial designer, and professor at Art Center College of Design."
Crazy About Cookies - 300 Scrumptious Recipes For Every Occasion & Craving, by Krystina Castella is currently available at,, Barnes and and your local bookseller.

Lola's Diner Disclaimer: I was given this novel to review. This review is 100% my opinion and has not been edited or reviewed by anyone. I was not compensated in any other way for this book review.

Lola's Diner ©2008-2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!

I know I complain a lot, but I have much to be thankful for. Things I am thankful for:
That even though my menu was very last minute and dependent on the kindness of friends, I am still able to provide a feast in keeping with year's past.
That my daughter has been fairly healthy this year.
That both my children are doing well in school. My daughter currently has straight A's!
That I have made some wonderfully caring and giving friends this year.
That my social life has blossomed more than I ever dreamed possible.
That I can count on my many blog pallies for support, a kind word and a good laugh.
This year I shopped for our Thanksgiving dinner very last minute. A friend paid back part of a debt and that allowed me to shop for my turkey and fixin's. I went to Jewel Foods and Berkots Wednesday. Am I freakin' crazy? Jewel Foods was a nightmare, and I really only went for some basic everyday essentials. The store was full of men, shopping alone, looking like lost souls, yet in a mad hurry. They all had attitude and had no patience for the women blocking the aisles chit-chatting and me texting on my phone while I leisurely strolled the aisles. Hey! I was in no hurry. I had a mission, yet I was perfectly happy catching up on IM with a friend while I pushed my cart. At least 4 guys muttered loudly about not being able to pass quickly through the aisles. By the 2nd or 3rd one I muttered back "why don't you really say how you feel?", but thankfully my comments weren't heard and there was no brawl in the baking aisle.

Here is the menu:

A big Turkey- at least 18lb. (I cook it in my Nesco or out on the Gas Grill with my smoker boxes filled with hickory permitting, I'm not running out in the rain, been there done that and I just don't find it fun. Since it was icky out yesterday, I'm going for cooking it in the Nesco, thereby keeping my oven free for cooking the stuffing and the side dishes.)
Stuffing - (4 loaves of bread toasted and left to get stale; celery, onion, gizzard, liver, heart finely diced; chicken or turkey broth.)
Mashed Potatoes (probably instant. Don't judge! I'm baking my pies from scratch and I do all the food preparation, cooking and baking solo.)
Canned yams (again, don't judge! Why should I go through the trouble of baking them if I've got canned yams in my pantry?)
Green Bean Casserole (Cream of mushroom soup, Durkee Fried Onions, etc.)
Roasted Brussels Sprouts.
Carrots and cheese and crackers for noshing while the turkey cooks.
Apple Pie (homemade, but the crust is store bought. I spent the time yesterday that I should have been making the pie crusts cleaning my kitchen because teens who cook are damn messy! At least mine are.
Pumpkin Pie (homemade, store bought crust.)

I was reading the Chicago Tribune online and one of the writers had done a story about the horrors of Jello with fruit and marshmallows and aspic. That made me recall one of the horrors from my childhood holidays...pickled herring. My Dad would eat that stuff every chance he could around the holidays because that's the only time my Mom would buy it. That stuff was disgusting! The smell! Ugh!

So is there anything served at your Thanksgiving celebrations that you find vile and loathsome?

What are you thankful for this year?

Lola's Diner ©2008-2010

Rant - Cell Phone Providers

AT&T Wireless sux. I have been a loyal AT&T Wireless customer for 11 years. Yes! ELEVEN YEARS. Just yesterday I discovered I've been being charged incorrectly for my rate plan. Since 2003 I should have received a $16 per month credit, but I've been only receiving an $8.80 credit each month. When I called to complain the first person I talked to was incapable of doing the math and kept insisting I was being charged correctly. (Tanja, like that's her real name.) She did say she credited me for a bogus $19.99 subscription that I did not authorize when I complained about it. She promised to transfer me to another department to discuss my issues and wah lah, I was disconnected. I called back and spoke with Jessica, who apparently did quite well in math in school. She got it that I was not being charged correctly. She set up a research ticket and promised the problem would be resolved by December 2nd. I asked about a credit since I've been on this particular plan, which I started on July 13, 2004. She said she only thought they could go back 1 year, but would put in the notes that I was requesting a credit for amounts overcharged since the beginning of my plan. This is no small change. A credit going back to July 13, 2004 amounts to $547.20. Going back only 1 year would mean a credit of $86.40. That's a HUGE difference.

If I don't receive full credit I will be leaving AT&T Wireless. I don't see how they could possibly justify not crediting me the full amount. I don't care what they claim their policy is, because they overcharged me in the first place. I've been toying with the idea of switching to Sprint or Verizon and getting an Android phone. Yes, AT&T Wireless has Android phones, but really, if they aren't going to treat their customers properly, then this will be the final straw and I WILL be switching wireless providers. I can't tell you how many times I've seen bogus charges on my bill.

I will be looking for a Family Plan with about 1400 minutes and unlimited Data and Messaging.

So my question to my readers is, what do you think of Sprint or Verizon as far as customer service, phone service and coverage? And, if you have an Android phone, which one do you have and how do you like it?

Lola's Diner ©2008-2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Holiday Time = Travel Time...

With the holidays approaching, for some of us that also means travel, whether back home to visit family or a much needed holiday vacation.

I haven't bought luggage since before my kids were born. That's a long time. Most of my pieces were stored in the basement and didn't survive a basement flood. As I look to the holidays and find myself childless for the better part of Winter Break, a friend of mine has decided it is the opportune time for a little getaway. Dare I say that my current luggage is embarrassing? It consists of a duffle bag. Yup, that's it! It's served me well for overnights and weekend camping, but a week just won't cut it. It's definitely time to check out luggage sets.
So where are we going? I have no idea! But where ever it is, it will be fun, because any place out of town has got to be fun!

Lola's Diner ©2008-2010

Random Tuesday Thoughts

Girl's Bowling Team season starts officially today with the first match. My daughter is able to play because her weekly Tuesday appointment was canceled due to the holiday. Shes very excited.

The Chicago Mayor's race - could it get more bizarre? Carole Mosley Braun running for Mayor? Seriously?

TSA Scanners - I have to say, they aren't even on my radar. I've flown only once, and really, considering my finances, I don't see myself flying anytime soon. I think I'd rather go through the scanner than get molested by TSA staff. And really, I don't care who sees my "junk", if it's necessary to fly safely, I don't see what the uproar is. Have you heard about the TSA-proof Underwear? Leave it to entrepreneurs to figure out a way to cash in.

Turkey Day update - still no turkey and nothing going on.

Christmas Lists - My daughter has her sights on a Kindle. I told her she can keep dreaming. She's got piles of books that she hasn't even cracked open. The last thing I need to do is spend money I don't have on an expensive electronic device that will sit and gather dust along with those books. I don't know if Christmas has hit my son's radar, he hasn't mentioned anything about what he wants. Yesterday afternoon a friend of mine asked me what I wanted and I was caught speechless. It's not on my radar either. I haven't even thought about it. During the rough years in the past my only concern has been that my kids have a decent Christmas. Nothing spectacular, just a few things. It's times like this that it doesn't even occur to me to think about what I'd want, because my kids come first, and any discussion with a friend about gifts just makes me more anxious about the holiday because of course there is the need to reciprocate. Ok, maybe not need, but I'd want to reciprocate.

Black Friday - I love Black Friday! If I could, I'd marry it. I love scouring the ginormous Thursday paper for bargains, making my list and plotting my strategy. For me...a well planned Black Friday can mean I could get my Christmas shopping done in one fell swoop. But alas, the bank account is near zero. I don't even think I want to pick up the Thursday paper and see what I'm missing. I know many people hate Black Friday and avoid it like the plague, but to me it's an annual ritual. In year's past when I've missed it, it didn't really feel like the holidays. It's really the only time I will wait in line for anything and sometimes that wait is quite fascinating. (Check out my post from 2008 Black Friday, Black Friday Or How I Know I've Become My Mother....) Perhaps someone would like to hire me as their personal shopper and have me do their Black Friday shopping? I would do it in a heartbeat.

Lola's Diner ©2008-2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Monday Mayhem - Silly ponderisms Part 2

Today we are going to play part 2 of the Silly Ponderisms meme.
Have fun!

PONDERISMS- Last week we filled in the blanks. This week we’re answering the questions.

10· In the 60′s, people took acid to make the world weird. Now the world is weird and people take Prozac to make it normal. So, what is normal? Perhaps if you're questioning're not "normal".

11· How is it one careless match can start a forest fire, but it takes a whole box to start a campfire? Ahh, personally I go with a Bic firestarter, but unfortunately, I've come to learn that they work too well for starting the carpeting on fire.

12· Who was the first person to look at a cow and say, ‘I think I’ll squeeze these dangly things and drink whatever comes out’? You know what? I'm willing to bet it was a man. Nuff said...

13· If Jimmy cracks corn and no one cares, why is there a song about him? Obviously it's because back in the 1840's there was no satellite television, video games or computers. They had to amuse themselves somehow!

14· Why does an OB-GYN leave the room when women get undressed if they are going to look up there anyway? Obviously it's because in medical school they developed a fetish for those flimsy hospital gowns.

15· If quizzes are quizzical, what are tests? Is this a test?

16· If corn oil is made from corn, and vegetable oil is made from vegetables, then what is baby oil made from? Oh, don't even start!

17· Do illiterate people get the full effect of Alphabet Soup? I bet illiterate and Dyslexic people don't even eat Alphabet Soup. Too frustrating!

18· Does pushing the elevator button more than once make it arrive faster? Yes! That's why if you've been standing then for awhile and the button is already lit, everyone else who steps up presses it for you to speed it up!

19· Why doesn’t glue stick to the inside of the bottle? oil.

20· Do you ever wonder why you gave someone your email address? All the freakin' time! When will I learn not to give it out to some of these psycho women on the dating sites?

Join Us for Monday Mayhem

Lola's Diner ©2008-2010
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