Tag Archives: Towne Street Theatre

Chocolate Chip Cookies by Nestle

13 Mar

The chocolate chip cookie. Probably the most commonly baked cookie in the United States. When you think cookie,  “chocolate chip” probably pops into your head first (or maybe second). Nestle Toll House has created a huge brand based around chocolate chip cookies. You can buy dough already made that just needs to be placed on cookie sheets. No mess and super easy. But I don’t like that, I like the process of making cookies. We’ve all done it and probably all have fond memories as children of making cookies with a parent or grandparent, right? I have fond memories of my sister and I making a quarter of a batch of cookie dough after school and eating it as a snack. Yup, we really did that. More than once. And nope, I don’t regret it, lol. For my 8th Grade science fair project I posed the question, “Which chocolate chip makes the best chocolate chip cookie?” (I guess you could say the love of baking has been in my blood for quite some time now.) I tested four different chips: Ghiradelli, Nestle Toll House, Hershey’s and the store brand (Vons). The winner? Nestle Toll House. Ghiradelli was second, then store brand and, sadly, Hershey’s was last. So when Towne Street’s 10 Minute Play Festival had its closing party I decided to make chocolate chip cookies, using Nestle’s recipe on the bag. Keep in mind, there are about as many chocolate chip recipes in the world as there are Starbucks in Los Angeles (if not more), so this won’t be the last chocolate chip cookie recipe I post. The cookies were a hit and I even managed to keep a few for myself and my office mates.

Chocolate Chip Cookies Ingredients L-R: Baking Soda, Brown Sugar, Butter (I used Crisco), White Sugar, Chocolate Chips, Eggs, Flour, Vanilla Extract, Salt

Chocolate Chip Cookies Ingredients L-R: Baking Soda, Brown Sugar, Butter (I used Crisco), White Sugar, Chocolate Chips, Eggs, Flour, Vanilla Extract, Salt

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES BY NESTLE (makes between 4 and 5 dozen)

  • 2 1/4 Cup Flour
  • 1 Tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 1 Cup Butter, Softened
  • 3/4 Cup White Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup Brown Sugar, Packed
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Cups (12 oz bag) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1 Cup Chopped Nuts (optional)
Sugars and butter about to be mixed

Sugars and butter about to be mixed

Adding in the eggs and vanilla

Adding in the eggs and vanilla

Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl combine your dry ingredients: flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl (or your stand mixer), combine your sugars and butter. Blend until smooth. Add in your eggs and vanilla and beat again until thoroughly mixed. On the lowest setting start adding your dry ingredient mixture slowly. Once all the dry ingredients are thoroughly mixed add in your chocolate chips (and nuts if you wish. I don’t add nuts as I don’t like them in my cookies.) and mix until they are well blended into your dough.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Everyone has their own style of putting cookies on the sheet to be baked. If you want pretty round ones, then make small balls about an inch in diameter (unless you want bigger cookies). If you don’t care about the shape just plop the dough onto the sheet either with your hands or a spoon. I kept my cookies about an inch in diameter so there would be lots for the party.

I used a spoon to approximate the size of the cookies.

I used a spoon to approximate the size of the cookies.

Ready for the oven!

Ready for the oven!

The bag says to bake for 9 to 11 minutes, however, I have found that every oven is slightly different, so my first batch of cookies I baked for 8 minutes. Perfect! The rest of the batches were subsequently baked for 8 minutes as well. I let them cool for another two or three minutes on the pan before removing to a cooling rack. I tasted one and it was delicious! They were quickly gobbled up (and stuffed in pockets to take home) at the party. Success!

Fresh from the oven!

Fresh from the oven!

Chocolate Chip Cookies ready for consumption

Chocolate Chip Cookies ready for consumption

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Fried Chicken

4 Mar

I admit, I’ve never made fried chicken, I’ve always gone to Kentucky Fried Chicken to get my fix (oh guilty pleasures…). I try to stay clear of eating fried chicken so that my waistline (and bust line) don’t hate me too much. It’s always been a treat, and for a while, my family would get it on Christmas Eve after we were done delivering gifts to friends. (My mouth is watering just thinking of their biscuits…) But last February I directed a 10 minute play that needed fried chicken as a prop. I knew I wanted to make my own for at least one of the weekends, and I finally found the time for my actor, Lamar Usher, to have homemade fried chicken for closing weekend. He was a very happy guy, and because I had extra pieces, a couple of the other actors got to have pieces after closing as well. I was told it was very good so I guess that means I need to make it again, and this time eat it myself! Ha! I only made drumsticks, but you can do this with all the pieces of the chicken. I made 6 drumsticks but there was enough of the egg dredge to do another 6 pieces.

Fried Chicken Ingredients L-R: Salt & Pepper, Garlic Powder, Chicken Drumsticks, Crisco Shortening, Flour (plus Egg and Milk not pictured)

Fried Chicken Ingredients L-R: Salt & Pepper, Garlic Powder, Chicken Drumsticks, Crisco Shortening, Flour (plus Egg and Milk not pictured)

FRIED CHICKEN

  • Whole Chicken (or various pieces)
  • About 1 Cup Crisco Shortening
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Cup Milk
  • 1/4 Cup Flour
  • 1 Tsp each of Salt & Pepper
  • 1 Tsp Garlic Powder (optional)
  • 1/2 Tsp (or more/less) Paprika (optional if you like spice)

In a medium bowl beat your egg and milk together. In a gallon size plastic bag, or on a large plate, mix your flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika together. (Just so you know, I did not use paprika in this batch since I wasn’t sure if Lamar wanted it with a kick.) I like using a gallon bag because I can shake up the chicken and it coats nicely.

Egg and Milk ready for the chicken

Egg and Milk ready for the chicken

Chicken all shook up in the bag

Chicken all shook up in the bag

Depending on how many chicken pieces you have, use a pan that is at least a couple of inches deep. I used my medium skillet and did three pieces at a time. Heat your shortening on high heat. While you’re waiting for it to get hot, cover your chicken pieces in the egg mixture then toss in the flour mixture. If using a bag you can usually fit 3 pieces, then close it up and shake! Test the hot shortening by dropping a few sprinkles of flour in, if it sizzles it’s ready, if it doesn’t it needs more hot. Once hot, place the egg and flour dredged chicken pieces in. Turn over after about five minutes. The skin should be frying up nicely and moving up the sides of the chicken. With the drumsticks, I turned them on the sides that were never directly in the hot oil for another minute or two as well.

Fried ChickenFried ChickenFried Chicken

While you’re waiting for the chicken to be done pull out a cookie sheet and lay down paper towels. When chicken is finished in the oil transfer to the lined cookie sheet. Repeat with the rest of your chicken pieces until all are done. Feel free to add more shortening one tablespoon at a time. Let it melt before adding in chicken. This was a surprisingly easy recipe so don’t be afraid of it (although watch for splattering hot oil). Serve and enjoy! My actor sure did!

Fried Chicken...mmmm.....

Fried Chicken…mmmm…..

TST 10 Minute Play Festival 2013

8 Feb

Near the end of my junior year of high school I decided to become a theatre major. That fall the husband of my drama teacher (who was our unofficial technical director and made a few cameos onstage) gave me advice that I have never forgotten: learn tech. “It will pay your bills while you’re trying to make it as an actor,” he said. At first I laughed a little, but he was serious and he said if I was serious about becoming an actor, I should learn to do tech. That winter I asked to be the stage manager for our play and I loved it. So when I went away to college at Hofstra University the following fall I volunteered to be the ASM on the student produced musical. I continued working on the stage management teams of productions. I learned a lot and was having a lot of fun. When I transferred to UC Riverside I continued working on my stage management skills. I also had the opportunity to take their year-long directing course. I learned a lot about the theatre world while I was there and I knew that when I graduated I had a skill that could be put to good use in the “real world”.

One of the first theatre companies I worked with after moving to Los Angeles was Towne Street Theatre and I haven’t stopped. I’ve been their resident stage manager since the spring of 2010. In February 2011 I worked on my first ten minute play festival with them (as an actor and as the stage manager). As the company has evolved, so has the running of the festival, making it a much more collaborative process for all company members. This year I had the pleasure of directing one of the pieces and I’ve had a blast! But back to stage managing. The week before a show has its first performance is called Tech Week, aka, Hell Week. This is the time that all of the tech elements (lights, sounds, costumes, etc) are added to the show. We have what’s called a dry tech with only the designers, director and stage manager going through the script and all the cues that have to be called to make sure they are in the right place. Then there’s a Cue to Cue with the actors onstage. We literally jump from cue to cue to make sure they happen the way they are supposed to. If lights need to be refocused its noted, or if a cue needs to happen differently it’s changed and rehearsed again. These are long days and nights, especially since I hold down two day jobs and then go to the theatre till late. The stage manager is also responsible for locking up and making the space is clean and ready for the following day. Suffice it say, there was little time last week that allowed for blogging. (I was lucky if I had the energy to brush my teeth! LOL)

Lights ready to be hung!

Lights ready to be hung!

When deciding to go the acting route as a career you have to make sure you have other skills that can pay the rent. I’m so thankful for the advice I received from my drama teacher and her husband back in high school. I enjoy being a stage manager as it keeps me in the industry and I meet so many amazing people. I had a great time directing again and I look forward to doing it again. So if you are in the Los Angeles area in the next two weekends, I’d like to invite you to come see Towne Street Theatre’s 6th Annual 10 Minute Play Festival.

The set of the 10 Minute Play Festival.

The set of the 10 Minute Play Festival.

The Liebster Blog Award

26 Jan

Wow! I was nominated for The Liebster Blog Award from my fabulous blog mentor Mary Ann Williams (aka, School of Moxie)! When I received her post on Facebook I was so stoked that I almost squealed aloud in my office! But I didn’t, I kept my decorum and squealed on the inside. It was because of Mary that I started blogging and my followers have been steadily growing (I think I got my first Facebook follower that I have absolutely no personal connection to which is pretty exciting!). After reading Mary’s post of her own nomination, I immediately googled it and discovered it’s been around for a couple of years and it’s for small, upcoming blogs with fewer than 200 followers (although at one point it was more like 3000 followers-huh?), and once you receive the nomination/award you must nominate fellow bloggers that you love. There are a few simple rules:

liebster_award_badges

Liebster Award Rules and Requirements

  1. Post eleven facts about yourself.
  2. Answer the questions the nominator has set for you and create eleven questions for the people you’ve nominated.
  3. Choose eleven people (with fewer than 200 followers) to give this award to and link them in your post (can’t include your nominator)
  4. Go to their page and tell them.

So while I don’t always like starting where I’m suppose to, I’ll start with the first one: facts about me.

  1. This is my favorite: I’m either 1/8 or 1/16 Chinese. My maternal grandfather was born and raised in China and is at least half Chinese. His father was a Swedish businessman but we don’t have a lot of information regarding his mother as she was raised in an orphanage.
  2. I hate “diets”, especially fad diets. The idea of cutting entire types of food out of your diet or feeling ashamed if you decide to eat dessert is just wrong. When people go on diets and then “cheat” they inevitably feel guilty and more often than not they go off their diet. I believe in learning how to eat right-right portions and the right types of foods. Did you know that a piece of steak should be about the size of a deck of cards? Think about that the next time you go out to eat.
  3. I’m a huge Friends fan! I can quote probably every single episode and relate most life events to episodes of Friends. Yes, I’m that geek.
  4. I’m OCD about odd things, most noticeably my books. I can’t buy them if they have a “movie” cover, and if it’s a series, they all have to be with the same cover art. Insert laughter here.
  5. I love to cross-stitch. When I’m caught up on other work I love to watch a movie or a bunch of TV and cross-stitch a project (see below for a favorite project of mine).
  6. I had a breast reduction. And I’m damn proud to say it. I always encourage women to talk to their doctors about their choices. I was fortunate that I had insurance when I got mine. My mom likes to say I have a BMW on my chest now.
  7. I love to read. Had I not chosen acting as a career I may have been a librarian in another life. And I love reading real books, not e-books. The smell of a book is something I never get tired of. Drop me in a used bookstore and I’ll spend money that I don’t have in a minute.
  8. I love to cook and bake. (Hello-that is what my blog is about right? lol) And I dream of one day having a big fancy kitchen and hosting lots of dinner parties with all those fun party dishes I see at Pier One.
  9. I collect walruses. I’m the happiest girl in the world when I see one. No joke. It was my mascot when I was a state officer in the California Rainbow For Girls and they’ll never leave my life. Ever.
  10. I’m a country girl at heart. I grew up in the country and as much as I’ve grown to love LaLa Land, every time I spend time back in Three Rivers I remember how much I love the country. My favorite song of all time is “Cowboy Take Me Away” by the Dixie Chicks.
  11. I started acting because my older sister was doing theatre and I wanted to do everything she did. I honestly don’t know if I’d be an actor without her. Love you Liz.

Now for the questions that the always fabulous Mary has asked:

  1. What was your inspiration for starting your blog (and for some of you a business, as well)? The fabulous Mary Ann Williams and her School of Moxie blog. As an actor I knew I wanted to do something on the web, but I don’t consider myself a writer, but after watching Mary and hearing the joy it brought her, it just became the obvious thing to do. Once I came up with the cooking idea it all fell into place rather quickly (like one weekend).
  2. If you were a cereal, what kind of cereal would you be?  And why? This is hard. And odd. And as an actor there’s always some teacher who asks a question in this vein and I’ve always hated it. But if I had to choose I guess it would be Honey Nut Cheerios. It’s a little bit sweet, but still good for your health. I like to think that’s me.
  3. If you won a million dollars, what would you do with it? Just like Mary said, I know there would be taxes taken out so it wouldn’t be a true million dollars (damn). After paying off my student loan and credit card debt, I’d take a chunk and finally start that 401K I’ve been saying I would start for the last 18 months. Then I would take another chunk and donate it to the various non-profits and schools that have made a difference in my life: CAIORG, Woodlake High School, Three Rivers Elementary School, Towne Street Theatre, The Blank Theatre, Alzheimer’s Research, Camp Sunshine Dreams and the Sigma Kappa Sorority Foundation. I’d also take another chunk and finally take care of some dental work I need, and then I’d buy a set of non-stick pans along with a set of nice knives. I’d make sure there was a small chunk to put in my checking account too, so that I could still pay my bills. But if there was any left over, I’d buy myself a pretty dress and a pair of shoes to go with it. Yup. I’m kind of a geek, but that’s what I’d do.
  4. Vanilla or chocolate? Um, chocolate-duh! always.
  5. Shaken or stirred? Stirred. Have you ever had a tequila sunrise? Gotta stir those.
  6. If you weren’t blogging about the topic you write on now, what else would you blog about?  Books. Definitely books.
  7. What does your ideal day look like?  Have you ever had one of those yet? This is über hard and I had to sleep on this question, but here it goes. I’d wake up and after a quick jog and a yummy breakfast, I’d head to set for a show or movie I get to work on. At the end of the day I’d relax with the man of my dreams and nice glass of wine. And no, that hasn’t happened yet. Le sigh.

And here are my nominees! I don’t follow that many blogs (does that make me a bad blogger? Oh well.) so I don’t have the requisite 11, but here are the blogs I do follow and love and have less than 200 followers.

liebster-blog-award

  1. Frugal Beautiful by Shannyn Allan. She’s amazing. I met her in CAIORG and she was the first person I knew who had their own blog. I thought it was the coolest thing ever and when I met her for dinner after she moved back from Chicago she inspired me to push forward with my blog. I was a little nervous and had only discussed it with Mary, but hearing her words of encouragement helped me realize that I could do it. (And I know she was already nominated, but she’s just that amazing.)
  2. Today Be Beautiful by Jill Brown. Jill is another amazing woman I know from CAIORG. We served as state officers together and we bonded over our short statures 😉 She is a strong, funny, smart woman and she runs THREE blogs! I envy her in the most positive way ever. While I don’t follow her other two blogs I am still going to include them below.
  3. Skulls and Skeletons by Jill Brown. Her second blog and what I like to call her “fun blog”. Weird and crazy and beautiful and vintage, you’ll find all her amazing finds here!
  4. Daily Diabetic by Jill Brown. Jill is a Type 1 Diabetic and she chronicles her health here. I think being this open with the public about your health struggles is one of the bravest things a person can do. Who knows the inspiration she will bring to her readers. Rock on Jill!
  5. We’re Calling Shenanigans by Kristen and Amelia. When I found this blog I immediately started following them. They take all those crazy Pinterest Projects and put them to the test. How cool is that?! I think they’re close to the 200 mark, but not sure if they’re over. Oh well!
  6. Diary Of A Mid-Life Crisis by Susan Lee. You may remember Susan in a post last fall, No Mo Chemo Lasagna. Susan was one of my first two friends here in LA and over the last three years we’ve grown closer. She is one of THE strongest women I know. Life has dished her a number of curve balls and she keeps knocking them back. I hope that when I reach her age I’m half the woman she is.

The other blog I wanted to nominate already received the nomination in December but I’m still going to give her a shout out, at350degrees, a fabulous baking blog. The other blogs I follow all have more than 200 followers so I’ve officially run out of blogs. And now for my questions for my nominees:

  1. What was your inspiration for starting your blog? (Loved this and totally stole it from the fab Mary)
  2. If you could live anywhere in the world (besides where you currently live), where it would be?
  3. Who would play you in the movie of your life?
  4. If you could only save two things from your burning home, what would they be?
  5. If you could meet anyone from history, who would it be and why?
  6. Sweet or Savory?
  7. Medical or Law TV show?

Whew! That was the longest post ever! I hope you check out these amazing blogs and hey, maybe you’ll find a little inspiration.

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