Archive for the ‘Pictures’ Category

Getting Nervous

June 17, 2010

I have a lot of baking to do in the next week and a half!

Monday is Iron Cupcake, so Sunday afternoon and evening will be spent baking and decorating 12 dozen mini cupcakes!

Tuesday evening I will be baking a few cupcakes to take to my friend when I go to visit her new baby on Wednesday.

Saturday I am baking 10 dozen (full size) cupcakes for the wedding of two friends. This will be started on Thursday evening. I’m nervous about this because, even though the flavors are going to be simple, I have no idea about the logistics of baking 10 dozen cupcakes! I feel like it won’t be that hard, but a couple of weeks ago I baked 5 dozen, and it took me well over 8 hours to do all the baking and decorating.

The decorating on those 5 dozen, however, was a little more complicated. But cute! Check these out:

Fortunately I just have to make these 10 dozen look pretty. Swirly frosting, maybe some sugar pearls, but nothing as intense as marzipan ladybugs!

Then, of course, after the cupcakes are done I have to find the energy to party at the wedding! I hope I can do that, because it is sure to be a fun tonight.

I’m nervous because this is a lot of baking! I was hoping to spend most of the week prepping. Cleaning my kitchen, getting all my supplies purchased and in order and ready to go. Now I’ll have to do that a little quicker than planned. I will post pictures when it’s all done. And maybe of the tornado that sweeps through my kitchen.

In other news, David and I are trying to plan our wedding. BUT we’re so confused by all the options! Right now we’re not even sure WHERE we want to get married- locally, or in Las Vegas.

Las Vegas sounds like FUN, and it would combine a honeymoon into one trip. We’d get married on a Friday night, and then spend the weekend in a nice suite. It wouldn’t be eloping, because we would still be inviting a lot of people to join us. But of course, some people won’t, because it is expensive.

That means the biggest pro of the in-town option is that all our family and friends could be there. We’d have a party back in town if we got married in Vegas, but it wouldn’t be the same. Sure, my parents and a few friends would join us in Vegas, but what about people like my grandparents? Vegas hold no particular appeal to them and the airfare would put a huge burden on them. So they wouldn’t be there. Can I handle that? I’m not sure. What about aunts and uncles that have watched me grow up? Will I just ditch them? What about friends who would LOVE to come, but really can’t afford it with their student loans and their rent payments? Is it fair to ask them to come, knowing that it will set them back, or they won’t be able to?

Just because Vegas is fun?

Baking 10 dozen cupcakes is going to be much easier than planning this wedding.

Alive!

April 13, 2009

Has it really been almost a month since I left for Las Vegas? It seems like just yesterday I was enjoying myself in the city of sin.

We left work a couple hours early on Monday and headed straight to the airport. I used to not care much about layovers on flights, but it’s starting to NOT be worth it. Fortunately our layover in Houston was quick. It was agonizing to be traveling all day when we were so excited to be in Las Vegas already!

We were staying at my aunt’s timeshare, and she had been there for a few days already with another aunt. They were leaving as we arrived and they met us in the airport with hilarious fanfare.
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We got directions to the hotel, and with that we were off into the Vegas night. We took a cab to our hotel (which was at the far end of the strip, near the Riviera and Circus Circus) and made it there around 11:30. We were tired, but wanted to go out and explore a little bit. We got changed and wandered over to the Riviera and then Slots-A-Fun. We lost about $11, and ate a giant hotdog before deciding to head back for some sleep. As we were standing outside Slots-A-Fun, we saw the greatest thing. A hooker getting arrested. Now, I agreed with the S-A-F cocktail waitress who said “Let the poor girl make her living” but it was quite the welcome to Vegas. That’s nothing I’ve ever seen in Milwaukee!

It’s also weird that prostitution is not legal in Vegas. For a city that essentially sells sex along every street, they won’t let you actually consumate that deal? Legally, anyway.

Anyway, we got up kind of early on Tuesday and went to the Circus Circus buffet at about 10:45. We timed it out, because I like breakfast, and David likes lunch, and they switch to lunch food at 11. The food was pretty good and cost less than$25 for the two of us.
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MMmmmmmm breakfast.

It was St. Patricks Day, and they had cream puffs with green filling! It was cool. We ate a lot, as we weren’t planning on eating until dinner. That’s the way to do it!

Our hotel was not on the strip, but it was close. Here’s our hotel, as seen from the strip. It’s the middle-height blue building in the middle of the picture. Royal Resort. It was very clean and comfortable and the staff was very nice.
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We started at our end of the strip, and walked east (I think?), checking out hotels as we passed.

We also wandered the malls, as I was very curious to see shops that I don’t have access to. Fashion Show Mall had the most peculiar design, and made me think of the size and design of the malls in Bangkok. HUGE.
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Outdoor escalators?! AWESOME!!

We gambled a bit in Treasure Island and I tried to take pictures of everything. But I was too busy having FUN! We played penny slots most of the time and I occasionally remembered to take cheesy tourist pictures like this:
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We crossed the street and checked out the Venetian, which was just so beautiful! We put in a few bucks and won back some money on this awesome Star Wars slot machine:
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We were wandering around the main casino floor, and I wanted to find the Canal Shoppes, so we started going up on an escalator. We were chatting, and I looked forward, and saw the shopping area, which took my breath away.
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We probably spent half an hour wandering in this little courtyard, taking pictures and watching the gondolas. We realized that we had to get going if we wanted to get back to our hotel in time to change for our show that night- Penn & Teller live at the Rio!

First I was able to fondle the shoes at Barney’s, though I’m kicking myself for not trying any on. Why do those shoes and sales people intimidate me so? The window display was so cool- a shoe made out of clothes hangers!
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We caught the end of the living fountain show on our way out. Another thing to check out on our next trip! The 30 seconds we saw was pretty cool.
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We wandered through the Palazzo, Wynn and Encore on our way back to the hotel. I liked these places too! Very swanky. And we won some more money! I think at this point we were only down about $10. The penny slots were nice to us. We’d lose $10, then win $20, then lose $20, then win $30. That made this day even more fun!

I was loving the feeling of being in Vegas. We had saved up money, and sticking cash in slot machines wasn’t stressing me out. We had no responsibilities and were enjoying our time with each other SO MUCH!

As if it could get any better, we were seeing Penn & Teller that night. We changed and walked to Harrah’s to catch a shuttle to the Rio. We got there early (thanks to a super nice bus driver who decreed David as the last person in line allowed on that bus, but let me sit on his lap) and we wandered. We picked up our tickets, lost a few bucks at slots, ate at an overpriced and undertasty Chinese restaurant, and showed up at 7:00 for P&T’s 8:00 show.  (Bonus: While waiting to get into the theater, David got a call from the director of “Noises Off” back in Milwaukee. Someone had to drop out, and he was now IN!! Vegas is lucky!)

There’s a jazz duo (“secret:” Penn is the bass player) and some fun activities before the show. The jazz was great, but I couldn’t wait for the show to start. It was incredible! David loves Penn & Teller and he was not disappointed. I was constantly amused at how they would show us how a trick is done, and then somehow do it differently and blow us away! I was totally amazed. We had great seats and they put on a great show. What a night!

Oh, and there’s no way I’d forget to mention that they hang out in the lobby after their shows. They sign autographs and pose for pictures. They were super nice. David was in heaven.
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I had to get in on the action too.
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We were exhausted from our long, exciting day, and had planned to go to the “old downtown,” but we couldn’t. We went back to our hotel and SLEPT. In fact, we didn’t wake up until after 11 on Wednesday.

I’ll recap the rest of our trip in the next entry. I feel like this is way too long already 🙂

No Excuses

March 6, 2009

So there’s no point in trying to make up for lost time here. I haven’t had a real post in close to three months. That’s crazy. I miss my blog. I haven’t been as good at uploading pictures and whiny entries with no pictures are pretty booooring.

Okay, let’s recap a little bit:
I totally went off the South Beach way of life over the holidays. Like WAAAAYYYY off. Like, gained back a lot of weight. It was not happy, but all the delicious food I ate was happy. And all the wonderful baking that I did was really pretty awesome. But now I’m back on the wagon. I’ve been pretty good the last couple of weeks, even though I’ve been sick a lot. It’s hard to find the energy to eat healthy when you’re sick. But I’ve managed, and I’m getting close to the weight I was when I fell off the wagon. Once I get back to that weight (180-ish) I will be really happy and vow to make it much closer to my goal weight by the time Christmas comes this year.

Baking: My enemy and my love.
I love baking. I can’t get over it. I love trying out new recipes. I love when something comes out more perfect than anything you can buy in a store. I love the way it makes my house smell. I love everything about it. Except for the fact that I want to eat ALL OF IT. Not just in a “quality control” way before I send it off to coworkers. As in, I would like to put a cake in front of me and eat it for each meal of each day.

And so, on that cake note, I took a cake decorating class! It’s the Wilton Course, offered at Michael’s. This was Course 1. It was pretty cool! I’ve been wanting to learn about actual decorating and how to make certain designs. I had a really nice instructor and got to take it with my friend and her mom. We had a great time and we still actually learned some stuff.

The first class was easy. The teacher told us about the stuff we’d learn and gave us tips on cakes and icing. She showed us some basic stuff that we’d be learning in class 2. We had to bring a cake that was frosted for Class 2, the next week. An excuse to try out a new cake recipe? Yes please!! I will post my recipes soon.

We started by learning some basic maneuvers with a pastry bag. The Wilton method is very structured and the teacher did a good job of making it interesting. She did cheat a little bit by showing us the whole rose the first day. I was so happy with this. The Wilton book says you are supposed to learn a little bit each class, and then put it all together at the final class. I think that’s dumb. This way we got three classes (and three weeks) to practice the rose before the final cake.

I feel like my roses at my first class were the best. My frosting was a little stiff, and I overcompensated at the next classes, where it was a little thin.

One of my first roses:

At the end of class, we got time to decorate our cakes using the techniques we learned that day.

I used the zig-zag border, roses, writing, and stars.

For the second class, we could bring cupcakes instead of a cake. I opted to do that, so I could practice all the techniques, without the final product looking too crazy.

We learned more shapes and how to use more tips and worked more on our roses. We learned grapes!

And we practiced our roses some more.

We also learned shell borders and drop flowers. I tried to use all our techniques on my cupcakes. They looked bright and vibrant:

For our final class, I actually considered using a box mix because of time. But I decided to stress myself out and try out Dorie’s Perfect Party Cake. It was beautiful and delicious and made my kitchen smell amazing. And, including frosting and my variation to the filling, used 4.5 sticks of butter. Like I said, amazing.

This was my first time making a Swiss Meringue Buttercream, and I had zero problems! I was kind of surprised, but I’m not going to question it. It is my new favorite frosting.

Ready for class:

We learned leaves and sweet peas and vines and got a long time to decorate our final cakes in class. My frosting wasn’t perfect for roses, again, but I managed quite well.

My final cake:

I used roses, leaves, shells, sweet peas and vines. Here’s a good shot with the sides:

And a close up of my roses (and leaves). Not perfect, but I understand the theory:

And my luscious layers. Instead of just layering it with buttercream and raspberry jam, I made a lemon curd, and folded that into some of the buttercream to put between the cake layers.

While only 6 of my cupcakes got consumed at work, over half of this cake was devoured, so I think this is a winning recipe!

I can’t wait to start Course Two, though it will have to wait until April. I’d be missing a class due to Las Vegas (OMGINTENDAYS!!!!) so I had to skip out on March.

I love this stuff! I feel more determined than ever to some how, some way, some time, make a little money on the side from my baking adventures. If only to offset the cost of ingredients! In the meantime, I’m cutting back my baking. I’m going to try to bake only for certain occasions, and not JUST because I saw a super awesome recipe that I NEEEEEED to make right this moment. That should help my wallet and my waistline. Which is good, because just thinking about that last cake made me gain some weight.

More Love

December 15, 2008

My birthday weekend was pretty awesome. I’ll write more when I get the pictures up, which will probably be a long time since I’m still working at 7am and have rehearsals for my show, that opens on WEDNESDAY!! I took off work on Friday, but I hope to go skiing. That would be so much fun.

Anyway, a quick story about my work Christmas party on Friday night. They do a raffle. There were some reeeeally nice prizes, like a weekend in Chicago or a $500 Midwest Airlines certificate. I didn’t win those, though I would have liked it. I can’t really complain though, because my name was drawn and I did win something. It’s sitting here at my desk with me.

wii

OMGZZZZ!!!! I own a Wii and a Kitchen Aid mixer? How will I ever manage my time? I am about to become housebound and really fat. Oh wait, I can buy a Wii Fit!

Love

December 12, 2008

kitchen-aid

Calling My Name

December 8, 2008

After baking all afternoon on Saturday, I was a little burned out on Sunday. I had planned on MORE baking, but just couldn’t bring myself to do dishes and gather ingredients and head over to my mom’s house to use her mixer. So I didn’t.

But today is a new day and even though I’m at work, I hear these calling my name from my kitchen.


(PS. Isn’t my oven and kitchen floor HOTT?)

Those would be 50 pound bags of flour and sugar. Sandy bought them from Costco for us to split. I have already made quite the dent in the flour.

That’s a lot of flour. And I love it. If only I had enough butter to last the rest of the month. Next time butter is on sale at Pick N Save, I honestly might buy about 20 pounds of it. I’ve gone through 5 or 6 pounds in two months!

I am enjoying baking SO MUCH. If I’m lucky, I will have my very own stand mixer this week. And come January I will actually have free time! Which means more goodies. Especially in the form of cupcakes, my second true love.

756 servings? Is that all?

Hello Winter

November 11, 2008

Even though temperatures were in the 70s less than a week ago, I think I am ready for winter. Winter was always my favorite season. Now that I’m an adult (Ha, kind of…) it has lost a bit of its luster. But only a tiny bit! Snow is not as magical because I have to shovel it and drive in it, but it’s still pretty fantastic. Lets just say that I’m not dreading the first white ground covering.

Good bye Halloween, perhaps my second most favorite holiday.
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I don’t remember if I bragged about these yet, but these are Vampire Cupcakes. Perfect for Halloween. Or, sigh, your crazy “Twilight” movie watching parties.
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I’m not going to talk about my favorite holiday yet, because I don’t do that stuff until the day after Thanksgiving. But this year, I’m actually kind of starting early because I am going to bake tons of cookies for gifts. And eating. And that stuff has to be done in advance, especially since I will be in a show this December!

My other favorite holiday is, of course, my birthday. Which is EXACTLY ONE MONTH FROM TODAY!!!!! Wow. Kind of scary. The number is… well, young, I know. But I will officially be in my mid-twenties. And that freaks the crap out of me! Not because I’m “old” but because I feel like I should be more grown up by this age, and be more accomplished, and blah blah blah.

I’m less concerned now with presents than I was a month ago, because now my number one wish is to go on a ski trip with some friends to Indianhead Mountainin mid January. AND I am planning on getting my season rental this week! It is really more than I should spend, but I’m giving up an awesome and expensive birthday dinner for it. Maybe we’ll go out for apps and drinks at Cubanitas instead…

I just thought I’d post this on here. My wishlist is almost exclusively baking stuff, which is kind of funny. But I neeeeeeeed it!
My Amazon.com Wish List

So YES, bring it on winter!!

Sunday Food Wrap

November 9, 2008

I got a little out of hand with my baking, I know. Anyway, I’m back on the strict Phase One of the South Beach Diet, again. I know I’ll stick to it because in just a couple weeks I’ll have plenty of indulgences. Thanksgiving, my birthday, and Christmas are just around the corner!

David and I have started a little Sunday tradition. We try a new food or a new preparation and watch Iron Chef America and The Chef Jeff Project on the Food Network. It’s so much fun to cuddle up on the couch while eating and watching yummy food. It’s the best way to end a weekend.

A couple weeks ago I experimented with a soup. Soup is not something we make from scratch very often. Like, ever. We made this Zucchini and Yellow Squash Soup with Parmesan. It’s South Beach friendly, and it was delicious. It made a huge amount and we had it for lunch and dinner many times afterwards.

On the theme of soup, I made this Roasted Red Pepper and Red Lentil Souplast week. Also South Beach friendly, this had an amazing Southwestern and Mediterranean flavor. I will most certainly be making this one again. I made some changes from this recipe. I don’t have coriander, and didn’t want to spend $5 on it, so I used some black pepper and curry powder instead. Instead of onion, I used shallot. Instead of garnishing with cilantro, I used some Italian flat-leaf parsley and powdered Parmesan.
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Today we went to a birthday/bon voyage party for our friend Marion who is leaving on a trip to France in a few days. (Jealous!!) I was asked to bring fruit. I went to Metro Market thinking I’d buy some berries and grapes and put together a fruit tray. Well, they didn’t have ANY berries! A fruit tray of apples and bananas didn’t seem that interesting. They had a big variety of tropical fruit, however, and much of it was on sale! So I decided a tropical fruit salad would be delicious.

And it was. I mixed it up with a Vanilla Dressingcourtesy of Alton Brown (instead of lemon juice, I used lime, and I didn’t use the mayo). I had the following: pineapple, papaya, kiwi, persimmon, Asian pear, mango, and pomegranate seeds. OMG YUM! And pretty…
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Tonight was back to the South Beach approved food. David butterflied some chicken breasts and gave them a nice sear, and finished them in the oven. With a few minutes left to go, he smothered covered them in some dried herbs and cheese. YUM!
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We apparently had a white theme going on, as we roasted cauliflower (our new ingredient for the night) for a side dish. I tossed it with a little olive oil, salt, garlic powder, pepper, and powdered Parmesan. I roasted at 400 degrees for about a half hour, stirring every 10 minutes or so, or until golden brown and delicious.
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I never thought I’d look forward to a Sunday night!

Cupcake Madness

November 5, 2008

So, now that politics is mostly done punching us all in the face like an attention-starved child, I will recap a cupcake baking spree I went on with some friends.

Cristina’s friend Jenny was getting married on October 31st. She must be a very laid back bride, because she just wanted some friends to make some cupcakes instead of having a wedding cake. Due to my baking obsession and access to an additional stand mixer, I got invited to help out. We were very disorganized, deciding on what cupcakes to bake on the night we were baking them, purchasing ingredients, not starting baking until after 7!! Sandy volunteered her kitchen for us all, and everything turned out great.

We decided on doing basic vanilla and chocolate cupcakes, and making a variety of frostings. We used this cupcake recipe, minus the apple pie filling, and this chocolate cupcake recipe, minus the filling. We also made this chocolate orange vegan recipe.

We split into two “teams” of two and went to work on the vanilla and chocolate. I had made the vanilla before, so I wanted to try the chocolate. I made a couple mistakes by not reading the recipe thoroughly enough, but everything turned out just fine!

The batter was kind of runny, which worried me a little, but wasn’t a problem. Also, this batter was not that tasty before being cooked. But the cupcakes tasted delicious!

The other team made some mistakes in mixing up the vanilla batter too, but nothing unfixable. In fact, it turned out great! And the batter was yummy enough that we all had to try it.
    

After making a huge mess in Sandy’s kitchen, all the cupcakes were in the oven or cooling on the counter top. We sampled one of each, you know, for quality control. I call this piece Relaxed, happy bride, with mess:

Then it was on to frosting. We decided on five flavors:
-Basic Cream Cheese
-Nutella Cream Cheese
-Peanut Butter
-Butterscotch
-Vegan “Buttercream”

We started with the basic cream cheese, from a recipe that Sandy found. It made a HUGE amount, so we split it in half and started scooping in Nutella to the other half. Well, and into our mouths.

Though there’s not much that can make Nutella much better than eating it straight out of the jar, this made a frosting worth offering to the gods.

And licking off every square centimeter of beater and bowl.

Then we got to my favorite. I don’t actually know how a frosting surpassed the Nutella frosting, but my peanut butter frosting did it. I was planning on using this recipe for the frosting, but we didn’t have any cream cheese left. So here’s about what I did:

Peanut Butter Buttercream:
–1 stick of butter (8 TBSP)
–1/4 cup-1/2 cup of peanut butter (I used a well mixed natural creamy peanut butter. I probably used just over 1/3 cup. You don’t want the texture to be sticky or runny, but you want a lot of peanut butter flavor)
–2 cups of powdered sugar (can add more if the frosting is too runny)
–1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
–1/8 teaspoon fine salt
–I added about 1 TBSP of heavy whipping cream while beating.

Directions:
Beat butter in mixer until smooth. Add peanut butter. Slowly add powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt. Beat until smooth and fluffy, adjusting amounts if necessary.

SO easy, and so delicious!! I licked the bowl and beater, and kept going back to the pile of fluffy frosting for more. I gave myself such a stomach ache, but it was so tasty!

The colors are kind of off in my picture, but the finished chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting. And Cristina’s sprinkles.

The fourth frosting was a fuchsia butterscotch buttercream. Why pink? Why not! I made this using a regular vanilla buttercream frosting, but swapped out the vanilla extract with a concentrated butterscotch flavoring.

The vegan frosting DID NOT turn out. It just was a weird lumpy mess. Who wants to eat a frosting made with margarine anyway? Jenny’s vegan guest couldn’t make it anyway, so we frosted the vegan cupcakes with the basic cream cheese frosting. The vanilla cupcakes were frosted with the butterscotch or Nutella, and the chocolate cupcakes got Nutella or peanut butter.

Cupcakes were still being decorated when I finally had to leave after 10:30. I was exhausted but had a total sugar high. The cupcakes were nothing fancy, but I bet they tasted delicious and I hear the guests liked them. And… it was FUN!!

What Happens When They Call Wisconsin

November 4, 2008

When Wisconsin goes Blue, we bring out Champagne.

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When they call Ohio for Obama, we open it.

Here’s to being a happy, giddy drunk tonight…

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