Category: Food and Recipes
|June 3, 2013||Filled under Food and Recipes, Parties and Events, Random Thoughts|
It’s that time of year – or maybe just a stage in life? – when there’s something happening every weekend from now until…well, I don’t like to think about it.
Friday I ran out to pick up some supplies I needed. Thank goodness I handed this stuff over to my mother who never throws anything out because it was exactly where I left it and I knew it would make the most adorable tissue paper balls.
After 4 or 5 stops I had everything I needed and settled in for the night because I knew I had an early morning ahead of me.
6 am just FEELS earlier on a Saturday morning. But it’s the perfect time to get your baking done because then your oven isn’t competing with the temperature outside.
5.5 hours later I boxed up these beauties:
And headed off to set up for Claudia’s baby shower.
In my rush I forgot some of the decorations I’d made but we definitely didn’t need them at all!
It’s awesome to see how many people come together to celebrate and love on your friends and there was plenty of that to go around. Everyone brought something and made it lots of fun. We had games, of course – how cute is this baby we used to play “pin the pacifier” ? Christy just drew that by hand, no big deal.
This was the first time I’d ever been to a coed baby shower, but the guys had fun with each other and even got in on the games. Including the controversial “how big is the baby bump?” game.
It’s not for everyone, but Clau was a really good sport until her mother pulled out a piece of tape taller than Claudia.
We did veer away from all traditional games and set up a beer in a baby bottle race. It sounds like it should be so simple but the guys quickly learned it’s not as easy or quick to drink out of a bottle as it seems like it should be!
Sunday I slept in just a little and rushed off to Home Goods to pick up something I’d left behind on Friday night. After thinking it over for two days (and taking a poll on Instagram!) I knew I couldn’t live without this orange Buddha head.
I’m still trying to figure out exactly where to put him but for now this is a good start.
The bigger question is exactly where do I put this key? It was a total impulse buy:
But I have this one corner of my family room where there’s just nothing. And I need something (a taller end table for sure but the walls are what I’m looking at) there – I kind of thought I could hang the key there…but how?
And then I saw this space and I knew it would look really amazing above the door:
Then again, it’s white and my walls are white. So do I sponge a little teal paint onto it so it pops a bit more? All you interior design oriented types are welcome to weigh in
With my shopping done I settled in for the rest of the day with one – well, two – things to accomplish:
About 7 hours later I finished the season. My other project for the day isn’t done yet but it’s coming along much better and faster than I’d expected it might. I can’t wait to show it off!
How was your weekend?
|April 29, 2013||Filled under Food and Recipes|
Once upon a time I bought myself a box of toaster waffles and got very excited that I’d found an easy, pre-prepared breakfast option for myself that requires approximately zero effort to accomplish at a time of day when I have to focus all my energy on things like breathing and blinking.
Yes, I know this comes just a week after I rejected the idea of “clean” peanut butter cups because they contained fake sugar and protein powder which cannot, by definition, be considered clean. I don’t care how good protein powder is, it’s a processed food. I still use it, but I don’t use it thinking it’s somehow better for me.
Which is basically how I came to have my toaster waffles in the first place. I endured a very complete “get your shit together” rant on Friday after admitting I’d had a Sbux breakfast sandwich that morning. And my usual “I am not good at mornings” explanation did not go over.
Me: I’m telling you, I wake up at noon every day sitting at my office desk with no idea how I got there or how I’ve already managed to successfully run a meeting, update clients, allocate funds, reorganize the file room and like 6,000 new pictures on Instagram .
Him: This can’t be real life.
So as I was getting my groceries I started looking for breakfast choices that didn’t require a lot of effort and found the toaster waffles. No, a tiny stack of processed carbs isn’t really the way I want to start my day but when faced with a trip through Starbucks drive thru or doing a grab and go I think these win a little (at least in the sodium department they do). It might be a very small win, but at least my bank account comes out on top.
At any rate, I was set to start this week feeling strong and prepared with my new breakfast plans and I even managed to get out of bed on time instead of snoozing until it’s time to walk out the door. Everything was sunshine and puppies (minus the actual sun because this was 6am and it was rainy) until I pulled the box out of the freezer and realized in all my haste to be awesome at life I’d forgotten one very crucial detail about my BrandNewAwesome Life.
Raise your hand if you saw this coming…
I don’t own a toaster.
No, I don’t know how I managed to forget that small insignificant detail about my life especially since I think just a week ago I was telling someone about how I don’t own a toaster because I don’t eat bread (sliced, store bought bread and only because if I did I would eat grilled cheese for every meal – I’m not anti-bread). But obviously I did and so I was stuck heating my toaster waffles in the microwave which I’m fairly certain the instructions don’t explain how to do for a good reason because in 45 seconds they were pathetically noodly (which is a polite way of saying limp) and I felt reasonably certain that I was more of an adult at age 12 than I am now. At least I can usually blame my breakfast failures on the fact that I don’t function at complete intellectual capacity at that time of day. This time there’s no excuse because it was like 2 in the afternoon when I was grocery shopping.
I ate them anyway and because I got out the door so much earlier than usual I let myself stop and get coffee to go with my sad sack waffles. At least I got to work 15 minutes early?
|April 1, 2013||Filled under Food and Recipes, Getting Healthy|
My day today began with something that for those of you who really know me sounds like it should be an April Fool’s joke: I actually did a workout this morning! And it didn’t look like this
Yes, after all my many posts about how I utterly fail at morning I actually dragged myself out of bed and went to the gym at 5:30 today. Of course now it’s 8:30 and I’m about to pass out on my desk so I don’t feel like it was maybe worth all the hype morning workouts get but…it’s done.
As I was doing my workout this morning I tried to think about everything other than the fact that I was working out. So I thought about how saying I had worked out this morning would be a really good prank coming from me. Then I realized I hate April Fool’s jokes. They might be funny when you’re little but at this point I don’t actually know anyone who really likes them. Nor can I think of a single prank to play that isn’t at least a little emotionally manipulative or completely see-through.
In other news, this appeared on my desk today:
I felt like applying several novelty effects to this picture because it’s the only fun I plan to have with this bunny. I’m tempted to eat him but I really don’t want to let myself…so if you want him, I’m happy to hand him over so I won’t prank myself by saying, “I’ll just have a little piece…”
Anyone ever pull off a really good April Fool’s joke? Do you like them or no?
|March 10, 2013||Filled under Food and Recipes|
I’m starting Week 2 of my personal breakfast challenge on Monday and thought, hey, why not share this? I know a bunch of you already photo document your meals (or love to hate those who do).
The problem: I am a breakfast eater. I firmly believe that breakfast is your most important meal of the day. But I was spending too much $$, calories, and time stopping to get my breakfast on the way to work every day, as well as taking in too many not so great for me ingredients (think of the sodium!). I also am majorly lazy so making myself get up with enough time to MAKE sometime every day was just not happening.
The solution: The breakfast challenge!
What it is: My friend Kathy was the one who invented this for me and she sets up the rules. Think of it like a writing prompt. Each week has a different theme.
This week’s challenge:
I’m busy trying to plan what I’ll make and excited to see what ends up working out. I can’t see myself doing anything like a salad for breakfast but there are definitely plenty of foods that could skip boundaries and be a breakfast food, right?
Who this is good for: Anyone in a breakfast rut. Looking to break out of the cereal business? This could be a fun way to branch out. Or maybe you don’t eat breakfast but feel you should start. Or maybe you’re just like me – grabbing something at Starbucks (or wherever) every day and thinking “Yeah, I probably shouldn’t be doing this.”
How to join in: There are 2 easy ways to do this: Either Instagram your breakfast every day using the hashtag #KMBreakfastChallenge (and follow me on Instagram if you’re not already). Or you can save up all your pictures and blog them at once at the end of the week. Leave a comment saying you’re in and my comment form will ask for your blog url. There are no prizes or consequences, this is just for fun and you’re allowed to change the “rules” if you want/need, just not the prompt.
Are you a breakfast eater? Are you a strict believer that “breakfast” foods are only for breakfast time or are you just as happy to eat waffles for dinner and tacos for breakfast?
|February 6, 2013||Filled under Food and Recipes, Getting Healthy|
When it comes to caring about where my food comes, I’m about as invested as the next person. Needless hormones, overuse of antibiotics, GMOs, carrots forced to live in tiny cages and eat other carrot waste? My heart is breaking.
I don’t mean to be sarcastic. I’m surrounded by the statistics and horrified by the things I hear on the news. I’m uncomfortable and I haven’t even done thorough research on the subject.
But I also suffer from a terminal case of the lazies. Add that to my longstanding history of being stuck in a serious food rut and you have a pretty stellar apathy situation. I care, but breaking out of my comfort zone? Sounds a lot like work to me.
So it should come as NO shock to you that what I’m about to share is not at all impacted by moral/ethical/political/scientific whathaveyou. Like I said, I’m not seriously researching this subject and am wholly unqualified to preach on the matter. I respect whatever your opinions and am not here to change them. Unless you’re in favor of tiny carrot cages.
For as long as I can remember I was that girl who hates vegetables. It’s not even true anymore but I still have that reputation. Growing up I emphatically proclaimed that I didn’t eat “Green things.” Didn’t matter what it was, if it was green I would not eat it. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten better about it and can eat a salad without wanting to shoot myself. Certain things, like green beans, still don’t cross my lips. They just taste “green” to me.
But as I look at my diet I know there’s a major deficit where “green things” are concerned. Not because I don’t like them, but because I am too lazy and too set in my ways to branch out. Dinner? Psh. I’ll just make popcorn, it’s fine. Again.
In previous years I’ve grown my own vegetables and supplemented from the grocery store.
Which was why I almost just said no when I got an email that my office would be participating in a CSA program. Think of it like Birchbox for vegetables. You pay a subscription fee and every week they deliver a box of produce to my office for me to take home and get crafty with. So this lazy girl wouldn’t have to worry about grocery shopping every week or go to a farmer’s market all season? This is sounding better and better.
The dream was coming alive in my mind. For about $20 a week I could have my food delivered right to me (okay, yes, I’d have to walk to the lobby of my office building to get it). That would just leave me to pick up eggs, meat, and dog food. Done. And I am happy with that price.
But would it be a waste? The small share says it’s for 1-3 people. Would I get so overwhelmed by the amount of stuff, cooking for just myself, that it would get to be too much? I quelled that thought by telling myself I’d foist my extras off on friends and family (blog giveaway for this head of lettuce anyone? Kidding!). I also really enjoy preserving and wouldn’t you know my friend Erika just got into juicing?
Confident I had that problem handled, I got excited. This would be an experiment! It would be a fun project! It would give me a chance to try things I haven’t otherwise been brave enough to try yet.
Visions of smoothies and delicious grilled vegetables danced in my head. I started discussing the matter with my friend Kathy. She agreed it would be a fun challenge. But then she said the only thing I hadn’t considered.
Kathy: “You might have to eat a cucumber”
Me: “Aw hell no. But maybe a radish.”
Which was the other valid concern. What if I get a bunch of stuff I just don’t like? Example: Broccoli I’m not a fan. But I eat it in smoothies where its offensive texture can’t bother me. There are few enough veggies I patently dislike, such as cucumbers and cucumber derivatives (a loathing that has been long documented on this blog) that I’m willing to risk it. I think. The list of vegetables I suspect I dislike but have never actually tried is FAR longer.
As it turns out that first email was just to see if there was enough interest in the program and we’ll have the official sign up in a few weeks. So there’s still time to make this decision, but I’ve reserved my spot and I’m getting more and more excited about it the more I think it over.
So now I’m coming to you all: Have you used a CSA before? Would you or is it not your thing? Did you like it? What kinds of things should I be thinking about that I might not already know? Do you have any tips, tricks, or helpful advice to share?
|June 23, 2012||Filled under Food and Recipes|
I’m so excited to be able to share this post with you today! See, last night I made my first wedding cake. And guess what? It turned out really well!!
I did two tiers, each one two layers. You remember how to make cake, right?
I am miserable at leveling cakes so I try really hard to have them bake as level as I can. I’ve found the best way to bake level layers is to fill the pans 3/4 full and turn the heat down so they bake a little longer than normal. This creates a dome in the middle and then I just take my hand and push it flat while they are still in the pan. I keep the oven mitt on while I do that, of course!
I made a swiss buttercream for the frosting. There are two reasons – it holds up really well over a long period of time without needing to be refrigerated and without getting crusty. It also is not exceedingly sweet. Of course it’s sweet, but it’s not the kind of sweet that makes your teeth hurt.
I’m not usually superstitious but when I saw the clock at this hour I thought it would be fun to wish the bride and groom a happy marriage:
With all the layers baked and cooled completely (I pop them in the fridge for at least an hour so they’re easier to work with) it was time to assemble the cake! I hadn’t planned to do everything on Friday night but I was on a roll and figured I would just keep going.
I did two tiers – A ten inch base and a six inch top tier. The base was white cake and the second tier was lemon. Both had raspberry filling.
A layer of frosting as “cement” to keep it from sliding off the cake board:
Then I piped a “border” of frosting along the edge to hold the filling in place:
Pro tip: Put your parchment or wax paper down BEFORE you do the filling. I dripped, and I had a mini-panic moment while I was cleaning it up. Give yourself that peace of mind!
A crumb coat (thin layer of frosting to trap those pesky crumbs in place):
And then you frost it like normal (or, if you’re using fondant, this is the point where you would apply the fondant). I put it back in the fridge at this point and repeated the process with the top tier. I put the second tier in the freezer so I could put my hands on it without damaging it. If I’d just put it in the fridge I would have left little fingerprints all over it.
With that in the freezer I got to work on the construction. I opted for support because I wanted to be sure it was safe to transport and that it would be able to sit on a table for hours and not collapse into itself. So I cut dowels down to be the same height as the cake. I cut a small circle of cardboard for support, and then I sprinkled some regular sugar over the top of the cake just where the cardboard would sit to keep it from sticking to the layer underneath:
I held my breath as I positioned the top tier – and then I gave it the final layer of frosting:
Yes, that looks sloppy, but that’s okay. I put the whole cake BACK in the fridge for an hour. That gave me time to prep the ribbons and other decoration pieces. Did you know you can’t just put ribbon on cake? The butter in the frosting would turn it into a greasy mess. I used tape as a backing to “seal” it and then cut the tape down so it wouldn’t show.
After the frosting had time to set up again I pulled it out and ran a hot, slightly wet knife over it all to smooth everything down. It wasn’t completely perfect but I knew I would have time to smooth more just before I delivered it.
Then I applied the ribbons, and some strands of pearls:
Looks kind of like a wedding cake, doesn’t it? But it needs a few more “finishing touches.”
And there you have it. A wedding cake!
In perfect “Movie Moment” fashion, my Pandora decided to crown the moment by playing “Just the Way You Are” as I was applying the flowers. It followed up with “Marry You” so I had a little dance party. I think it’s safe to say Pandora and I are on really good terms right now.
I put the whole thing back in the fridge and then I celebrated my victory:
It was about 1:30 in the morning at that point but I was on top of the world. I wanted to call everyone I knew and tell them about how awesome my cake was. Unfortunately it was 1:30 in the morning, so I celebrated quietly by cleaning up the kitchen. Well, dancing as I cleaned. But still.
Now that the cake was done I had time to sleep and I actually slept pretty well considering I knew the hardest part was yet to come. Each tier of the cake was pretty heavy, so when the cake was fully assembled it was a significant amount of weight. And I mean, I’m no body builder but sometimes I do pick things up and put them down so I’m not exactly a weakling either. I just had these awful visions of dropping the cake as I arrived to deliver it. I have my clumsy moments!
But that didn’t happen either. Just before the wedding started I carried the cake up a sloped driveway, up three stairs into the house and set it safely on the table. Then I met the bride for the first time (she was very calm and glowing – I hope I will be that poised on my eventual wedding day!) and gave everyone instructions on how to cut the cake. Did you know you are supposed to cut the bottom tier first? And then I ran because it was time for the ceremony.
White Cake (I read the comments and followed the “add another 1/2 cup of milk” advice. I doubled this to fit the 10 inch pans)
Lemon Cake (I left out the zest, doubled the lemon juice, and poured a little more lemon juice over the cake right after I pulled it out of the oven. There was extra batter left over after filling the 6 inch pans so I also made a dozen cupcakes.)
Swiss Buttercream (I used the “wedding cake” amount and had a ton of leftover frosting)
Raspberry filling (I used the immersion blender instead of a potato masher and then ran it through a strainer to get the last of the seeds out)
I was able to just go to Michaels for the dowels and cake board. For everything I wasn’t sure about from choosing my tier size and adding the support I just did a google search. There’s a ton of information and advice available out there from people who are FAR more qualified than me to give it!
So what do you think? Are you inspired to try your hand at making wedding cakes now? Or would you rather just eat one?