Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Healthy Birthday!

My friend, Stacy, and I have both recently decided that we are eating way too much sugar to be healthy.  I've noticed I typically consume some form of sugar or dessert 2-3 times a day, and lately, I've been noticing blood-sugar related headaches and dizziness.  That isn't good.  Both Stacy and I have a family history of diabetes, and it's time we turn our lives around.  We're trying to help each other through it.

One of my best friends from home, Christina, celebrated her 22nd birthday last week.  Usually, I'd send some sort of baked good to arrive on my friend's birthday.  Unfortunately, I had to send her a belated gift this year because all my baking supplies were at school.  When I went into the kitchen to bake  today, I was craving sugar.  Sometimes I really feel like an addict; I start shaking and opening all the cupboards, searching for something sweet.  Luckily, I anticipated this ahead of time and did not buy anything sugary on my last grocery run.  I decided that I would probably not be safe around a large amount of cookie dough this morning, so I chose to make Christina some healthy granola instead.  My poor friends, whenever I'm on a health-kick, they are too, whether they like it or not.

I pretty much just threw whatever I had in my cupboards into a bowl with some maple syrup and a few tablespoons of coconut oil.  This granola has oats, raisins, craisins, chopped almonds, walnuts, flax seeds, cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar.

For the procedure, I roughly followed this one from Joy of Baking.

Monday, March 12, 2012

My culinary veins are filled with... mayonnaise?!

Well, I am finally home on Spring Break to recuperate from the crazy first half of the semester.  I am catching up on sleep and letting my back heal.  My housemate, Chandra, also came home to Canjo with me for a few days, so she can get to know my family better and see the place I call home.

My dad's birthday was yesterday.  We were hoping to surprise him with a little get-together, but he's a pretty wise old owl and is not easily fooled.  He knows I am too good a daughter to just blow off his birthday, so I decided to surprise him in another way: his cake.  Since I am a broke college student, and soon-to-be flat-broke grad student, my birthday gifts to my friends and family are usually edible.  For my dad's birthday this year, I decided to surprise him with a very special cake: his mom's chocolate mayonnaise cake.  I know, I know, it sounds disgusting.  I was pretty appalled myself when I read the title and didn't even want to try it, but since it was my grandmother's most famous cake, I threw hesitation to the wind and swallowed my culinary pride to make it for my dad.

My cousins and aunts put together a collection of my paternal grandmother's recipes, and gave it to some of the younger generations for Christmas.  I had yet to try any of her recipes, but decided that this was the perfect occasion.  What better birthday cake could someone ask for than your favorite cake your mother used to make?  I even used her buttercream recipe (although I have to admit, I didn't love it as much as the one I usually use).   My dad seemed pretty pleased, so I think I hit the mark on this one.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Cookies for a Cause

These cookies mark my 5th baking adventure in a week's time.  I made two separate batches of the coconut chocolate chunk cookies on Monday and Tuesday, then Greta's cake Thursday and Friday, Tiramisu on Saturday, and now these little beauties on Sunday.

Even though I had a very busy day and was pretty tired after an AMAZING St. Patty's themed Zumba® class, I decided to whip up a quick batch of cookies for a bake sale.  My friends, Tresne and Katie, started a student group called Students for Sayaxche, which supports the partnership between Middlesex Hospital and Sayaxche Hospital in Guatemala.  We spent our last student forum class (titled Issues in International Health Partnerships) talking with Luis, an EMT/ER tech who is helping to lead volunteer medical trips.  Seeing as I have absolutely no services to offer in the medical field/have a fainting disorder which would make me pass out probably 4 times a day, I've decided the best way for me to support them and their initiatives is by baking to support their bake sale tonight.

I was too sore to go to Weshop to buy any more ingredients, (I'm still nursing a back injury), so I just used whatever ingredients I had on hand, and came up with these:

Giant Cinnamon Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chip Cookies
Recipe adapted from The Cookie Bible

Breaking Down the Bucket List

If you haven't already heard, Stacy and I created a second semester senior bucket list of all the things we want to accomplish before we graduate.  Last spring, my friend, Ariel, and I talked about making tiramisu from scratch together.  Then we ran out of time in the semester, but figured we'd get time in the fall when we were living together.  We somehow never got around to it while she lived here, either, so I decided to put it on the bucket list, so it HAD to be accomplished.

We're approaching the middle of the semester, and I'm not quite half-way through the bucket list.  Last weekend we attempted to find red dresses and then ate at First and Last Tavern (where we had tiramisu for dessert).  I decided that this was the weekend for our own tiramisu.  I went to Price Chopper and bought the mascarpone, and then to the liquor store to buy the Kahlua.  If we were going to do this, we were going to do it right.

Homemade Tiramisu
Recipe from here
Lady Finger recipe from Joy of Baking

Reese's Explosion Cake

This blog post may be a little short, consider I have to write three of them today, plus a staff meeting, plus Zumba®, plus yoga, plus work, plus a group meeting.  I also went to bed at 4am, and then my body just decided it would be a good idea to wake up at 10am.  Thanks, internal clock.

In terms of life updates, I officially submitted my enrollment deposit for the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology in Boston, and will be there for at least the next 4 years in their clinical psych doctoral program.  YAY!

OK, on to the cake.  Friday was my wonderful friend Greta's birthday.  She's normally a huge fan of my birthday cakes, especially the chocolate ones, so of course I had to make her one that was super chocolatey and decadent.  My friend, Joel, showed me this cake a few weeks back, and I decided I wanted to try to make my own, so I figured this was the perfect occasion.

Birthday girl and her cake!
Unfortunately, it was a huge disaster.  The cake crumbled, the ganache stiffened into a putty, and it just generally looked like a mess.  That's why it's called a Reese's "explosion" cake- it looks like a bomb went off inside it.  If I make it again, I am going to leave it alone and not try to cut the sides down and make it look like a big Reese's cup.  The flavors speak for themselves.

Reese's Explosion Cake
Cake recipe adapted from here (one of my favorite and easiest go-to chocolate cake recipes)