New Year, New Teaching Assignment

Happy new year, everyone!  I realize I'm a bit late at saying it, but I've been busy (read: lazy) for the past couple weeks.  Although some would say this is okay because classes haven't started yet, I've found it kind of frustrating to have little motivation to get started on my research again.  I haven't been really into the whole "New Year's Resolution" thing this year, perhaps because I feel like there is no reason to wait until January to make promises to get my life in gear.  Thus I continue telling myself to go to bed earlier, stop biting my nails, and maybe even keep my kitchen clean for once.  Of course, the problem with the last one on the list is I keep messing up my kitchen with new adventures!

I'm looking forward to the start of this new semester for several reasons.  The first is that I'll be glad to resume my normal social activities, including working out (I go to the gym with a couple friends), Bible study, and wasting too much time playing Rock Band.  I've decided to join an additional Bible study group, this new one being with the church I attend, in the hope that it will help me get better involved in the church community.  We'll have to see if I can actually balance all my weeknight activities appropriately.  Not taking any classes should help.

The thing I'm currently the most excited about for this semester is the new class I'll be teaching.  Okay, to be fair, I'm actually just a TA, so I'm not writing my own lesson plans or anything, and this class isn't new to the University, just to me.  The course is Physics 123: Physics Made Easy.  I think the title is perhaps a little deceptive - although the course is, indeed, about making physics easy, the point of it is to equip future elementary school teachers to teach science.  It is an understatement to say that I am psyched about being able to do this.  I don't talk about it too much here, but science outreach is very important to me, and so I'm glad to be getting involved.  Since this course is a lot of kitchen physics, I may even post some of the demos here for anyone who is interested.

But that is me getting way off topic.  My primary reason for posting today is because I made more cookies, just like I was supposed to:

131. Chocolate Charms
On New Year's Day, in the midst of watching four different Big Ten bowl games, I suddenly realized it was Saturday and that I needed to make my weekly cookies.  Thankfully, I was able to find a simple recipe to share with my family that didn't involve running out to the store to buy random stuff.

These cookies have a basic dough, which has lots of butter and cocoa powder to give them a dense texture and a nice chocolate flavor.  They were easy to throw together, and smelled great while they were in the oven.  My family really enjoyed them.  As far as cookies go, these are good.  They're not the best simple cookies I've made, and you can tell there's lots of butter in them upon taking one bite, but they made a decent addition to our football snacks.

132. Coconut Cream Cheese Pinwheels with Jam Centers
In the midst of my sort-of post-break laziness, I decided that it would be a good idea to do one of the more time-intensive recipes left in my cookbook.  These cookies consist of a cream cheese dough; a coconut, cream cheese, and white chocolate filling; and some jam in the very center.

The dough was very quick and easy to make, but assembling these cookies took forever!  In order to get these uniform pinwheel shapes, I had to roll out the dough, cut it into squares with a pizza cutter (the recipe calls for a fluted cutting wheel but I didn't want to buy one), refrigerate those squares, add the filling, cut the corners of the dough, fold them over the filling, brush the whole thing with egg, sprinkle sugar on it, and finally put it in the oven.  Halfway through baking, I had to add the jam.  It took me 20 minutes to prep each batch, and since I had to add the jam midway, the assembly/baking process couldn't be overlapped - I couldn't start preparing the next batch until the first was out of the oven.  Thus, it took me about an hour of attention to make 30 cookies.

So these took a lot of time, but it was totally worth it, because they tasted AMAZING.  The dough is light and fluffy, and contrasts nicely with the very rich filling.  I filled these with homemade mixed berry jam, which ran a little bit, but it tasted good too.  The only thing I would probably change in this recipe is to use only an egg white for the wash rather than the whole egg, since I found the yellow on top of the cookies to not be very pretty.

Alright, that is all for now.  This weekend I might try making fried cookies.  They won't be healthy, but I'll have several places to share them, so I can spread the heart failure around.

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