Archive for the ‘Internets’ Category

TRY IT

November 20, 2008

David and I have been having stressful, rotten times at work lately. Yesterday his bad day outweighed mine, and so I took care of stuff and let him chill. I was productive and washed a ton of dirty dishes that had taken over our kitchen, and then I baked, which was so relaxing to me, even though it took a while. I’ll post more details if I remember to take pictures of the final product, but TRY THIS.

I wanted to try out this Vodka Pie Crust from Cooks Illustrated, but I didn’t want to make a whole pie. So I combined the crust with the recipe for the apple pocket pies. Pie crust seems kind of advanced and scary to me, but trust me, this was SO EASY. I had heard this crust could be kind of sticky, so I was worried when mine was on the dry and crumbly side. And when I rolled it out, I saw some huge chunks of butter that I didn’t see on Smitten’s blog entry, because I have a crappy pastry cutter. But I went with it, and hoped for the best. O.M.G. AWESOME! I don’t know if I can choose a favorite between this crust or the pastry from the original pocket-pie recipe, but I think this one was definitely flakier. It totally melts in your mouth. O.M.G.

I am thinking about making an apple pie to take to Thanksgiving, but I’ve been hesitant because my mom makes awesome pie crust (she totally goes for it and uses lard) and I sometimes wonder why I should try to perfect the already-perfected. So I tried this crust just to see which crust I would use if I made a whole pie. I was hoping for a clear winner, but I don’t know!!

I think I would like this vodka crust better for a whole pie, but the other crust is good for the mini pies? I don’t know! Maybe I’ll just have to make both again and have a side-by-side taste test. Any testing volunteers?

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Lighter

November 12, 2008

My dad sent me this. I imagine this is how he feels sometimes in Milwaukee, with our lack of authentic Persian restaurants. Heck, even I feel this way. I would do much for a kebab.

Halloween and Baking

October 29, 2008

Okay, here we go. Some pictures. These are from the last two weeks or so. I still have things to talk about from even further back, but that will have to wait again!

I have been baking like a madwoman. Why? Because this baby has been in my kitchen for the last two weeks:

My mom’s Kitchen Aid mixer. Sure, I can bake things without a mixer, but this puppy makes the impossible possible. Including creaming butter and sugar, because I do not have Popeye muscles. This is probably to me what pictures of sexy sportcars are to men:

So I have been baking up a storm. Since I borrowed the mixer, here is a list of what I have made, along with pictures, if I remembered to take them, and some comments.

For Bosses Day, I made Apple Pie Cupcakes (again) for my work and Peanut Butter Nutella Brownies for David’s work. They were all a big hit.

Then I attempted to make Slime Filled Cupcakes for Sandy’s Halloween Party. I had never made a lime curd, or even a lemon curd before, so I was really wandering into uncharted territory. At first, things seemed fine.

But as it cooled, it turned into this lumpy green jello stuff. And it tasted TERRIBLE. It was like lime x1000. It was just sick. So at the last minute, I had to switch my game plan. I had already made the cupcakes and the green buttercream frosting from that recipe, but I wanted it to be a little more special. So I filled them with chocolate buttercream frosting from this recipe. They were still a big hit. The cupcake batter was pretty easy and tasty. They were pretty light and fluffy. I would definitely use that batter again.

I made these Margarita Cupcakes for a party I had during the week. I know someone took pictures of them, so I’ll have to share later. Yeah, it uses a box mix, but it also uses real tequila. They were not your typical cupcake, but they were tasty.

I had a whole bunch of leftover chocolate and vanilla frosting, so I thought I’d try out another cupcake recipe to use it up. Later that week I made Vanilla Brown Butter Cupcakes. OMFG SO GOOD!! This might be my favorite recipe yet! The cakes were very dense and rich. And… they don’t even use the mixer! So I can still make cupcakes when I finally have to give it back. Surprisingly, they were totally amazing with the chocolate frosting. I had never browned butter before, and must have had beginners luck, because it was almost perfect. SO GOOD!

I made these Apple Hand Pies(or as I like to say, pocket pies) over the weekend. We had some friends over to carve pumpkins and eat them. These things are AWESOME. The dough was a lot of work, and I know I can do better, but it was worth it. The final result was so tender and flaky and warm and just.. MMMM!! It’s not a great way to use up my apples though, as I only used three for the recipe.

Also on Sunday I made Oatmeal Jumbos. They did not turn out very jumbo. I needed to use up some chocolate chips and some mini peanut butter cups. The cookies were good, but I think the batter got too warm, I over mixed it, or my baking soda is bad. Or all three. They were very flat. But they were still tasty. It made a HUGE amount of cookies. David and I both took a bunch to work, and they didn’t last long.

Monday night I made good old Chocolate Chip cookies. I’m pretty sure my baking soda has given out on me, because these again weren’t as thick as I had expected. They were still plenty chewy and delicious. Are they the best chocolate chip cookies ever? Quite possibly. I just bought more baking soda, so I will be trying these out again soon.

Also on Monday night I made up the dough for Shortbread Cameo cookies from my Sweet Miniatures book. The dough is in my fridge, just waiting to be cooked up.

 

Sandy’s  Halloween Party was super fun. I left a little early to finish up the night at a friend’s bachelorette party after I didn’t win the costume contest!! That’s okay, I was close. Being an election year, there were a number of political costumes. I went as Sarah Palin and David went as Joe the Plumber.

The “redneck” was wearing a wifebeater that said “GOD IZ REPUBLICAN” and the “clown” had a sticker that said “Votin’ for McPainin’.” Ohh, funny people.

There was also a hockey mom.

And Peanut Butter Jelly Time. And a Ceiling Fan.

And even the USA.

His costume was interactive. He has a real tattoo of Wisconsin on his back. So he brought markers and we all got to finish the US across his body. Hilarious.

The rest of my party pictures can be found HERE. And Cristina, apparently I stopped caring about taking pictures after I started mixing rum with my punch. So I missed a lot of action and a lot of people and a lot of costumes. 😛

Finally, check this out. It’s hilarious!!

What Happens

October 20, 2008

When sisters are on Facebook at the same time…

Baby Fever

October 17, 2008

The other day, seemingly out of nowhere, I thought “I want a baby!” I think I was having one of those “If I died right now, would I regret anything” moments. Just to keep myself in check. Carpe diem, after all. The first thing I thought of was that I would die without having been a mom. Not that I’d want to die with a little baby in the world.

WTF am I talking about?

Anyway, I think this is all because it’s that time of the month, and my hormones are really just making me insane. It’s almost fun to see which side of my crazy comes out around this time. Almost. Usually, I’m over emotional. Rarely, I’m angry. Sometimes I just want to hibernate for a week. This is a new side. I went baby crazy.

David told me about seeing a cute little baby at his work, probably not even a month old, wake up from a nap and stretch in her stroller as her mom wheeled her by. Adorable. I thought again, I want one!!!!

Then hell opened up her great maw and poured heaps of babies into my path. Or so it seemed. We stopped at the grocery store on the way home from work, and I swear to God I have never seen so many babies in one place. I mean, babies everywhere. At ever aisle we turned down, there were families. With babies. There were cute little Asian babies riding in the cart. There were blond haired, blue eyed babies wandering along side their dads. There was a teeny tiny baby strapped to a mom’s chest. Babies at every turn. Even outside in the parking lot. I’m so sure my period caused this, but thank God for it anyway, or I might have been in trouble 9 months from now.

Besides, if I were knocked up, think about all the awesome stuff that would be off-limits. Soft cheeses, sushi, alcohol. Very sad.

And so, I think I’m coming down from that baby high, though I still feel it in the back of my mind. Yes, I want kids. Someday. Not now.

If you’re not already looking it up or picturing it, the woman in this awesome and infamous commercial is a pretty accurate portrayal of the Natasha from yesterday…

Just Random

October 16, 2008

I think I have a big crush on Kanye West. Is this weird? How about my major crush on Johnny Knoxville? That’s a little weird, isn’t it? I never watched Jackass. It was seeing him in the movie “A Dirty Shame.” Oh my, I think I’m blushing. Do you have a weird, random crush?

The software at Mint.com seems pretty cool. And free. I don’t like when it tells me I have spent $470 on Healthcare in the last 30 days though, exceeding my budget of $50. 😦

I made Apple Pie Cupcakes again, this time for Bosses Day at work. Everyone loved them. This makes me feel great!

Right now, there is a Kitchen-Aid mixer in my kitchen. <insert singing angels here> My mom let me borrow hers because I am doing a lot of baking this week. I could really get used to having one. That’s dangerous!

I will be making cupcakes on Saturday and next week Tuesday. And possibly the Wednesday and Thursday after that. I’m in cupcake heaven! Tomorrow I am making a lime curd for my Saturday cupcakes. I’ve never made a curd before. It sounds scary and gross. But I bought 12 limes today, so it better work out!

I was able to watch all of the episodes of Project Runway that I missed, along with the finale, AND the debate last night. I was watching TV until 11:00, but it was worth it. I was totally impressed with all three final collections. I’m happy with who won, though I would have been thrilled with either of the top two. But my mind keeps going back to this dress that Kenley made… I want it!!

I’m way behind on that whole “100 things” post that bloggers are doing. Where you list 100 things about you on your hundredth post. Well, my hundredth post blew right by me, so then I thought, I’ll do it when this blog has been around a year. Well, that’s gone too. I’m kind of working on one. So I guess if I post it, it will really be random. In the meantime, here’s an entry I wrote exactly one year ago today. It’s pretty uninteresting, unfortunately.

Does asparagus make your pee smell funny? Actually it does, but did you know not everyone has ability to smell it? Weird!! That’s according to Wikepedia. Apparently I do. Just saying.

  • * Should I have used bullet points for this post? Hmm…

Deliciousness

September 29, 2008

Haiku For Cupcakes:
Foul temptress with your
Inviting interior.
Could there be better?

After spilling my heart about my bakery dreams (and thanks everyone for your words and encouragement) I decided to put my mixer where my mouth is.

Well, really it’s my mom’s mixer, because I don’t have a mixer and she has a KitchenAid beauty. I went over to her house on Sunday afternoon to use her big kitchen (compared to mine, anyway) and baking tools. She wasn’t home, because she was off competing in a triathlon in Whitewater. Where she won the GOLD MEDAL in her age group! GO MOM!!!

WD showed me this recipe on Friday. I thought YUMMMMY and thought it didn’t look too difficult. So I decided to attempt it on Sunday. Annie’s Eats blog is full of incredible looking recipes, so check it out!

While there are more components to this recipe than a normal, standard cupcake, none of the steps were very difficult. I, shamefully, don’t make a lot of cakes or cupcakes from scratch. In fact, I don’t think I have ever made anything like that from scratch on my own. It was easy! I find that I overthink some things while baking and underthink others. I’ll mis-measure ingredients even though I think I’m being so careful! Fortunately, I haven’t made mistakes like that in a long time. You can’t rush baking, and once I accepted that, things have been a lot better! This did take me about three hours, from start to finish. And unlike something simple, like cookies, I was working pretty much that whole three hours.

The cupcake base recipe is so delicious. I will definitely use that again. In fact, I’ll probably make this whole thing again. I love the combination. I’m thinking it would be a fun dessert to take to my family’s Thanksgiving celebration or a Halloween Party, especially with a little orange tint to the buttercream.

If you like apple pie, you’ll love these. I had never made apple pie before either, and I was surprised by how easy this filling was. I thought there wouldn’t be enough butter in there to cook all the apples, but it was just fine. I used regular white sugar, but I think brown sugar would work well too. I found I didn’t need it because of the cinnamon. I could only find medium sized apples, and I used four of them. Well, four minus 2 slices, because I ate those.

Of course then I wished I hadn’t, because I ran a little low on the filling. The cupcake batter made 26 cupcakes for me, but I overfilled a couple of those. I probably could have gotten 28 cupcakes out of this. My advice: make more filling than you’ll need. You can always just eat the extra!

These delicious looking puppies are then topped with equally delicious vanilla buttercream. Yes, you may continue drooling. I have a small container of Maple Sugar at home. I think I will sprinkle some of that over the remaining cupcakes.

Oh, and if you have leftover buttercream and/or apple filling, you can do what I did. Put all your carved out “muffin tops” on a plate and eat them with the leftovers! I also recommend taking these leftovers to a peace rally and handing them out to friends as “Muffin-Tops for Peace!”

So yeah, try this recipe. It’s easy and delicious. I’ll leave you with some more impromptu poetry, inspired by the cupcake I just finished.

Ode to Cake and Buttercream:
Alas, with your tender crumb and sweet richness,
You would tempt many a hard-hearted soldier.
Your smooth texture is not only pleasing to the eye,
But heaven on the tongue.
The sugary taste lingers, and develops,
And soon all thoughts have flown from my mind.
Only thinking of cake and buttercream,
I am left in a hazy paradise,
Wanting, yearning for more.

🙂

Dreams

September 25, 2008

First off, I’m not going to forget to do this. I was given my second blog award (I am totally lame and forgot to blog about the first one) by Ginesa.

I have to thank her, because if anyone’s blog is encouraging, it’s hers! We found each other, thanks to the internets, and have enjoyed cheering each other on in our weight loss journeys. She is doing GREAT! Not only is she losing weight, but she’s training for a race and doing a kickass job on her runs. Plus she has an adorable daughter who just turned one, and posts pictures often. Yay babies!!

Okay, now that I have remembered to write about that…

I had a dream a couple months ago about a bakery. I’m unclear as to whether I owned it, or was just a customer. It could best be described as a dessert bar. It was decked out in black and pink and had a modern, yet whimsical and a not-too-girly feeling to it. Kind Alice-in-Wonderland-ish. It was in a part of town that was part nightlife/part college area. Although it happened to look just like this street of gay bars that I visited in Thailand.

There were big comfy couches and booths where groups of young adults picked off large trays of gourmet goodies. Fancy versions of youthful desserts like Oreos, Oatmeal Creme Pies, Twinkies, and other treats like cookies and cupcakes. It was like a cafe, where people could come in, hang out, study, work, chat, and eat delicious desserts. Or they could place orders to go. It was cool. And it was open late.

I awoke with the insane urge to open this place.

A couple days after this dream, a coworker talked to me about a thought she had about opening a “Wonka Bar.” She had just seem us perform in “Willy Wonka” and had this idea of opening a bar that served candy-themed drinks. It fit in perfectly with my dessert bar idea. It could be called the “Candy Bar” and could serve all kinds of delicious desserts along with yummy drinks.

Just a couple weeks ago, after dinner with my dad and sister for her 13th birthday, we wanted to go get dessert. I racked my brain for places to get dessert, near downtown. We had just come from a restaurant. We didn’t want to go into another one just to order dessert. Kopp’s custard was far away. We didn’t want to go to a grocery store to get cupcakes and eat them in the car. We settled for gelato from Whole Foods. But eating gelato in a car on the way home was not the perfect way to end the night (though close, because Whole Foods’ gelato is yummy).

I started thinking, does Milwaukee really not have a cool place to go get dessert? Shouldn’t we have one? We have plenty of awesome bakeries, but those require planning and forethought. What if I want to GO OUT for dessert, at 9:00 at night? The closest thing I can think of is at the InterContinental, where you can order up some chocolate truffles or petit fours at $2 a pop. Good, but not quite what I’m looking for.

So now I’ve had this thought, this dream, of opening up a “dessert bar” in Milwaukee. I’m not the best baker, but I would learn. I’m pretty good, and if I had the time, I think I could develop quite a nice talent. But running a bakery? I don’t know… It sounds like a good idea sometimes, but then I think about all the potential problems.

How would I get started? Where would I find money/space? Would I be able to sell stuff? What about equipment? What about health insurance? What about health codes and regulations? What about the potential of financial ruin? What if no one thinks it’s as cool as I do? And so on…

I keep thinking about working towards it, though. Maybe devote my weekends to baking. Learning about it and trying out new recipes. I have a couple friends who own theatres. Maybe they would let me sell some treats on show nights. Maybe I could develop a small following. Maybe I could start a by-order-only business, and then hope for it to grow. Maybe… what if… what about…

I don’t feel like I’m cut out for the 8-5 job that I’m in right now. My creativity is stifeled. I need more. I want more. I deserve more. I wish I could jump into this RIGHT NOW. But I have to step back and think. Maybe I can go to MATC and get my associates business degree. I hear that gives you some good entrepreneurial information, and it wouldn’t take half a lifetime to finish. Maybe in five years, I can really start something. Or maybe in five years I’ll think it’s even more foolish than I do now.

And it’s time for my favorite Disney quote. Belle, from Beauty and the Beast sings,

“I want adventure in the great wide somewhere; I want it more than I can tell. And for once it might be grand to have someone understand, I want so much more than they’ve got planned.”

Weekend Hangover

September 22, 2008

My weekend was a blast. Camping, Packer game, friends, fun, wilderness. Every last moment was filled to the brim with awesomeness. While fantastic, this has thrust me into Monday, completely unready. The past couple weekends have been the same. And next weekend does not look any more relaxing. (Though it will be FUN!)

I have to finish my costume for Clue tonight. Hopefully all the caffeine I’m ingesting will power me through just enough sewing to finish, and then will allow me to crash at the earliest possible moment. I wouldn’t be surprised if I were in bed before 9:00.

Something that has helped me get through this long day of work was winning this contest from the Solestruck blog! And therefore, winning these shoes:

 
HURRAY!!! I never thought I’d actually win. But I thought the shoes were cute, and so I commented to say so. And now, they will be mine! All mine!! <insert evil laugh here>

The only bad thing is that the brand is called Pastry. And now I want a pastry.

Exciting Stuff

September 18, 2008

I am thisclose to getting to go to the Packer game on Sunday. They play the Cowboys. If anything, it should be an exciting game. My coworker’s brother has extra tickets, and I’m getting them, if she can get a hold of him and they’re still left. I’m completely on the edge of my seat about this. I’m trying not to have high hopes, because I got badly burned on some Packer tickets last year. But still, I’m really afraid that I’m going to be disappointed by the end of the day.

And if I’m not? I’ll probably be the happiest girl in the metro area. Even though I’ll pretty much have to eat Ramen Noodles for every meal until my next payday.

David and I are going to see the Brewers play on Wednesday, courtesy of my dad. We will be in the FIRST ROW on the 3rd base side. Hopefully the Brewers can come out of this slump they’ve been in!

I just placed a huge order on Barack Obama’s website. I ordered over 20 of these:

The Obama campaign offices are consistently out of the yard signs, and it was suggested we just order online. In order to make it a little more efficient, and save on costs and energy, I sent out notice to friends and family, asking if they’d like a sign. The response was overwhelming! I also ordered 8 bumper stickers and a couple other items.

There might  be something left over that I can give my youngest sister, as she, at the tender age of 13, likes Obama. It’s cute, and a little surprising since my family rarely talks politics and my parents have voted Republican for the last twenty years. Four years ago, during the Bush vs Kerry race, she decided she liked John Kerry. Where that came from, I have no idea, but that’s what happened. I guess they were doing a mock election to learn about politics in her elementary school, and she made the choice to vote for Kerry. I was shocked, since my parents’ large, prominent yard was host to an equally large, prominent sign for Bush. Her friends parents are mostly republican and so are her friends who, like myself in my teenage years, assume that they have the same views as their parents and choose to copy that. My little sister is so strange, in so many ways, but it’s things like this that give me faith that she’ll grow up to be a strong, healthy, smart person. NOT because she’s a 13-year-old democrat, but because she’s out there, thinking for herself.

And finally, David and I are going camping this weekend! We’re headed to the Kettle Moraine on Friday after work. We both come from major camping families, but this will be the first camping trip either of us have been on in years.  And our first one together. It will be a lot of fun, but it’s a little… interesting. Since we both have done a TON of camping with our families, we have very distinct ideas of what we need and how things should be done. Like his family never used bungee cords, whereas my family would get my dad bungee cords for his birthday! It’s silly little things like that; things that are so ingrained into us, that we can’t help but think that “my way” is the best way. It’s kind of funny when I step back and look at it. We’ve talked about this, and agreed not to kill each other and to just have fun this weekend. It’ll be an adventure, and we’ll be able to just hang out in nature and enjoy each other’s company. I’m so excited for that! Oh, and I’m extra excited to sit in front of a campfire with him while I make myself some s’mores. Only myself, since he doesn’t like s’mores. Who doesn’t like s’mores?!??!!! See what I mean…?