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quality peeps (lots of pics)

Recipe: pistachio chocolate chip blondies

We are heading out of So Cal and into my favorite place in the world.

But to round out the weekend, I will have to be quick. Saturday afternoon we drove south to visit with two of my favorite bloggers: Todd and Diane of White on Rice Couple! It is the first time we’ve met in person, but I really felt they were kindred spirits already. They welcomed us into their beautiful home, Sierra wanted me to chuck the ball and Dante sniffed my crotch. Hi-larious dogs, I know Kaweah and Sierra would be bffs. Oh, and when I say “beautiful” to describe their home, it is an understatement. Stunning? Gorgeous? Breath-taking? Magazine-worthy? Words don’t do it justice. It’s a HOME, not a house (must include fabulous yards). It shows great love and care and attention to detail yet it isn’t a museum piece, it’s usable and lived in and HOME, you know what I mean? And that is a reflection of Todd and Diane – people with real substance and sincerity. I just wanted to pack them up and take them home with us (the dogs too).

diane preps us for the tour of little saigon

jack fruits as big as kaweah!

diane offers up fresh rambutan outside of the market

roses blooming on one of their many trellises

sierra playing in the yard

Not only did we get a fabu tour of Little Saigon (I could follow Diane around and listen to her chatter away in Vietnamese for hours) and discover that our man, Todd, also speaks some Vietnamese (go white boy, go!!!), but they stuffed us full of amazing foods they prepared at their house – half of it straight from their garden(s)! Am I yelling too much here?! It’s because we have never experienced such incredible hospitality like this from foodie friends (or any friends, for that matter) – EVAR! Did I mention I want to take them home with me?

diane gets dinner ready

delicious fresh produce for our spring rolls

enjoying fresh mangosteen for dessert

dante stares down the figs

some of the best people (and pups) on earth

Sunday we visited with friends from my undergraduate days (volleyball days, really). They are the most amazing parents. Their oldest son is autistic and the younger one is well… unique. We love both of those boys – they are not only incredibly amusing, but quite sweet in large part because their parents rock. Another dear mutual friend joined us for dinner (Dr. Hogly Wogly’s barbecue – accept no substitute). It felt so good to see these people again.

thomas gives leroy-kitteh a lift

jack discusses science with jeremy

kevin read a bedtime story to me and his mom

There’s nothing quite like having good quality peeps for friends. I used to be the type of friend who put up with a lot of crap because friends were really important to me. Friends are still one of the most important aspects of my life, but I don’t waste my time on jerks, people who don’t respect me, and most of all people *I* don’t respect. Life is too short to be spent on folks like that.

Okay, it’s time to go so I’m tacking on a recipe that I baked a few weeks ago. I got the inspiration from Deb and decided to tweak the recipe with some of my favorite flavors like pistachio and almond.

love pistachios and it’s not just because they are green

buttah and brown sugah

I doubled the recipe, since I usually bake with recipients in mind. These went out to neighbors, docs, patients, techs, buddies. I have a terrible habit of throwing cereal into cookies or bars on occasion. Cornflake crumbs add a neat texture to chocolate chip cookies, as do rice crispies. I had some rice crispies and tossed those into the dough.

stirring in the dry ingredients

pistachios, chocolate chips, and rice crispies…

Verdict: I had baked these before in the classic sense (just chocolate chips and vanilla extract) which were good. This version was just too sweet for me. I’m not a sweets fan though and everyone else loved them. I thought I put in too much chocolate (I know, some people would say there is no such thing). Jeremy did suggest leaving out the rice crispies because it added a more chewy texture than he prefers in bar cookies. Duly noted.


Pistachio Chocolate Chip Blondies
[print recipe]
based on Blondies on Smitten Kitchen by Deb

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg (1.5 at elevation)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 cup flour (1 1/4 cups at elevation)
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 cup pistachios, toasted
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup rice crispies cereal

Butter an 8×8-inch pan (or 9×13-inch for a double batch). Mix the melted butter with brown sugar and beat until smooth. Beat in egg and then vanilla and almond extracts. Stir in flour and salt. Mix in nuts, chocolate, and rice crispies. Pour into and bake at 350°F 20-25 minutes (40 minutes for a double batch), or until set in the middle. Cool on rack before cutting.

43 nibbles at “quality peeps (lots of pics)”

  1. joanne at frutto della passione says:

    You know I have NEVER eaten a blondie. Keep meaning to try them but I still haven’t got round to it. These look really, really tempting!

  2. Mollie says:

    Oh mah gah – those blondies look amazing! I’m so glad you’re getting to spend time with your peeps. Life is too short – hold on to the good ones tight, get rid of the riff-raff and hang on for the ride.

  3. Lan says:

    of all the fresh fruit you got to consume. so glad you’re having a fab time! with all this fun you’re having, you’ll need a break from your break! :)

  4. Clumbsy Cookie says:

    I don’t know what I prefer, those cute dogs or your blondies! As allways your pictures are amazing! Glad you had a good time with friends.

  5. Rosa says:

    I bet you had a great time there! I love Vietnamese food! Those dogs are really cute…

    Your Blondies look terribly good! Really tempting, original and tasty! Yummy



  6. Manggy says:

    Hah! Whenever I used to bring chocolate chip cookies to the hospital, the accidentally overchipped cookies (from undermixing) are the ones that really light up my friends’ eyes :) The blondies (er, bar-shaped chocolate chip cookies? Hee hee) look really good, even if I’m not a whole-nut fan. (Hey, rice krispies I think would be good!)

    Those are two very gorgeous households, dogs and cat included (though teh kitteh is HUGE). I’m glad you’re having such a great time! (And how could you not, really?)

    Funnily enough, it’s when I managed to start to really respect myself that I could really tell that my friends were starting to really respect me. Thankfully all of them are worthy of my respect too, despite the occasional imperfection :)

  7. Manggy says:

    (Okay, I sounded like a total militant up there. My friends are worthy of my respect for the people they are, and I love them despite/ because of their imperfections! Ha ha ha. Silly brain of mine.)

  8. Susan at StickyGooeyCreamyChewy says:

    Oh, I am soooo jealous! Todd and Diane are two of my favorite people (next to you, of course)! I’d give anything to spend some time hanging out with all of you guys. How great that you got to go out for a visit.

    I hope you’re having a lovely vacation. You deserve it! Just be careful not to overdo. Take care of yourself.

  9. bee says:

    you met todd and diane? and the pups? i love them all. they are inspirational. and so are you.

  10. Chez US says:

    Aren’t they the best!?! We stopped by there on our way to Palm Springs a couple months ago and the hospitality was outstanding – we felt the same, kindred spirits, definitely. You have got to love the JOYCOOK, too! ;)

    Have a great holiday!!

  11. Patricia Scarpin says:

    You guys know how to have fun! Gorgeous photos, Jen!

  12. Ashley says:

    Too bad these were too sweet for you but I think they sound (and look) really good and uniqe. I want to try a blondie with rice krispies in them now.

  13. Lori says:

    jenyu- the pistachios are tempting me. There seems to be a trend lately with you and pistachios or is it me wanting them?

  14. Elizabeth says:

    oooo hooo I hope that cat was de-clawed! hee hee (I am sure that was not the first time he had been carted about in stuffed animal fashion) Thank you for sharing your vacation with us. So glad you’re have a fabulous time.

  15. Debbie Green says:

    I’m a big dog lover and those two are adorable…..your blondies look great too. I love pistachios!

  16. Christina says:

    Fun times with great people, that’s what makes life good!

    Those are probably one of the best blondie recipes I’ve seen. Most are relatively blah, but those make me think differently.

  17. Mollie says:

    I had never made a blondie, or really understood the facination. But I actually made these today, since I had everything on hand and time to do it. They are AMAZING. And yes, I am in the “no such thing as too much chocolate camp” tho I did reduce it to 3/4 cup. They will be in heavy rotation. I don’t think I’d ever had pistachio in a baked good either but the toasty salty taste is great. And the rice krispies? They just add a little light, crispy dimension. Yum. Tell Jeremy he’s wrong. :)

  18. Mrs Ergul says:

    What a trip! I’m envious :D Pistachios, my new favourite ever since I’ve tasted the Turkish grown ones!

  19. Kevin says:

    Those look so good with the green pistachios in them!

  20. Tartelette says:

    I am so happy you guys get to spend such great time with friends. I have a crush on D&T, big time and you and J. too I think that if you ever came to visit I would feel the same way, wondering how I can bottle you up!!

  21. brilynn says:

    I’ve made these blondies a variety of ways but not with those mix ins, they look great!

  22. barbara says:

    How wonderful when online friendships are so successful when you do eventually meet. Glad to see you are having a great vacation.

  23. Toni says:

    OMG! I got here through Todd and Diane’s site. Forget being jealous of the snow. I’m undone by your photography!!! (Not to mention the idea of pistachios in blondies!!)

  24. Wandering Chopsticks says:

    WoRC are awesome! Diane is the best! They’re just such warm and generous people.

  25. White On Rice Couple says:

    The pups are missing you already. It’s not very often that they get SERIOUS dog lovers to the house. You two showered them with so much love and attention, us two humans are actually a little jealous! ;)

    Thanks for taking the time out of your packed vacation schedule to visit us, our lives are changed forever. Both of you are just wonderful. Jack, Kevin, his mom and all of us are lucky to have you as friends. Life is enriching with quality friends.

    And the family pic…looks at Todd’s squinty eyes, I told you he was the Asian! I look like Medusa with my messy locks, time for a hair cut, thanks for the reminder! But the pups do look pretty, that’s all that matters! :)

    See you soon!

  26. Lynn says:

    How wonderful to get to meet such awesome people (and dogs) in person. Great friends are like seasoning in a dish – they change bland to amazing. Speaking of amazing, those bars look mighty fine, too.

  27. Rachel (S[d]OC) says:

    Whoa pistachios! I love love love pistachios. My summer Sweet Treat of the Week (a weekly dessert stolen from other people’s blogs) has already included a pistachio dessert and blondies. Would I break too many rules if I repeat ingredients/type of dessert? Do I have rules since it’s my blog? Hmmmm…these just might be featured in the future.

    Sounds like a great trip. The internet really can bring people together.

  28. Ginny says:

    Brown sugar and butter are my favorite to eat straight out of the bowl…i caught myself wanting to lick your picture! Delicious!

  29. deb says:

    Hee-hee. I was like, “I made that? When?” Because I haven’t made anything with rice crispies and pistachios but suddenly wished I had. And then I saw the blondie recipe link and was all “Aaaaah. Now I get it!” Lovely pics, as always.

  30. Aran says:

    jen, you are photos are making me miss my friends terribly. so colorful and happy!

  31. Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary says:

    First let me just say that you take the most gorgeous photographs I have ever seen. You inspire me.

    Second I am so jealous that you met Todd & Diane. I am honored to call them my friends and I hope one day to meet them too. Lucky you. Lucky, lucky you.

    Love your blog btw.

  32. Hélène says:

    Beautiful photographs! I wish I could visit them too. Lucky you. I’ll have to make these blondies. Yum!

  33. Tony says:

    It looks like you had a blast over at D & T’s!! They’re such amazing people!!

  34. Jaden, Steamy Kitchen says:

    What a wonderful vacation!

  35. Hillary says:

    I loved reading the two different accounts of your visit to White on Rice Couple’s home. The four of you seem to have so much respect for eachother. I’m glad you enjoyed.

  36. jenyu says:

    Joanne – they’re like a cross between chocolate chip cookies and brownies :) Hope you try them soon!

    Mollie – you really make me laugh. I wish you had a blog for me to read ;)

    Lan – yup, just one day of rest to recover from the vacay is usually enough!

    Clumbsy Cookie – thanks!!

    Rosa – I love Vietnamese food too, it’s sooooo good and complex in flavors!

    Mark – teh kitteh isn’t that huge, just that Thomas is a little kid :) Your friends respect you?? ha ha ha! Oh, you are too much fun Mark. You’d better move over here quick so we can all make fun of you and then feed you fresh lychees :o

    Susan – yes mom! :) You are such a sweetheart. I was good and I didn’t overdo it (too much). Totally worth it!

    Bee – next time we’ll have to drag you and J along!

    Chez Us – thanks! Yeah, they are awesome folks. Lots of foodies are awesome folks, no? :)

    Patricia – thank you, dear!

    Ashley – yay! Adulterated blondies with cereal are really good!

    Lori – actually, you are correct (and very observant!). I had a big bag of pistachios and I know if I don’t use them in a short amount of time, I will forget and then they will go rancid and then I will cry :)

    Elizabeth – Leroy is just about the most tolerant kitteh ever :) He’s very good for that household of boys!

    Debbie – thanks. Yes, those two pups are super sweet poochies. What do you expect from Todd and Diane?! :)

    Christina – definitely full of flavors and all of my friends and radiation folks liked them :)

    Mollie – ha ha, I’m really glad you like these! I told Jeremy he was wrong and he smiled. I tell him he’s wrong plenty, so he’s used to it (a good sport at that too!) :)

    Mrs. E – ooooh, I wish I had some Turkish grown pistachios. They must be heavenly!

    Kevin – thanks!

    Tartelette – these two are really special – just like you are!! I’m lucky to have found such terrific folk just through our love (mnay, obsession?!) with food!

    Brilynn – thanks!

    Barbara – thank you, dear. Sometimes folks just click, you know? :) xxoo

    Toni – awww, I’m so glad you enjoy the site. Stay a while!

    WC – they are totally wonderful and Diane is a riot (Todd is a sweetheart).

    WoRC – Ooooh, we miss them and you too!!! Now that we’ve met and you are not strangers, come stay with us. We can’t promise awesome food like you made for us, but I’ll do my best. And we’ll play with the Weah and hike or ski or whatever. You two are really terrific. Good Peeps!!! Thanks so much for everything. What a treat!

    Lynn – you are so right!!

    Rachel – well, since it’s your blog it’s your rule! :) It was a terrific trip!

    Ginny – oh, I know people like you! Dangerous to have in the kitchen when making stuff :)

    Deb – thanks dear. Thanks for the comment AND for the inspiration. Your posts always jar good ideas in my head!

    Aran – thank you!

    Lisa – that’s so sweet of you. Yes, T&D kick ass. They are wonderful, no?

    Helene – thanks!

    Tony – they totally rock. Even better in person!! :)

    Jaden – true dat! Bummed that we missed you, but I hope you had an awesome bday (I will hop over to your blog soon enough).

    Hillary – ha ha, they are great. And the two accounts are definitely different :)

  37. Mrs Ergül says:

    Yes they are! Here is the deal, I will send you some after I go to Turkey which is most probably next year. They are smaller than the typical ones we eat during Chinese New Year here. And much tastier :)

  38. My Sweet & Saucy says:

    I don’t think I could find one thing wrong with these…they look and sound AMAZING! Wish I could try one right now!

  39. Boat Drinks & Dreams » Blog Archive » Tuesday at the Table says:

    […] CHOC CHIP BLONDIES: Got these from Use Real Butter, how can you go wrong on a blog by that name!!! Oh my! So delicious! I can’t even describe […]

  40. jenyu says:

    MSS – aw, thanks :) I might sub out the rice crispies with cornflake crumbs instead?

  41. Dan O says:

    I made these for some grad school friends…. they loved ’em. Thanks!

  42. jenyu says:

    Dan – sweet! You’re welcome :)

  43. Jen says:

    These came out great!
    Very delicious & so easy to to make.

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