Thursday, December 31, 2015

All Ears

Here's the last list of the year, which is why it goes to 11. I just finished that last one today! By my count (which may be off by one or two,) I listened to 42 never-read and never-heard audiobooks this year. I didn't have a goal set in mind, but I think that's a decent amount.

For 2016, I hope to listen to 52. One a week seems like a reasonable goal.

1: The Power of Habit
  Charles Duhigg

2: The Girl on the Train
  Paula Hawkins

3: Oliver Twist
  Charles Dickens

4:  The Sea of Monsters
  Rick Riordan

5: As You Wish
  Cary Elwes

6: The Titan's Curse
  Rick Riordan

7: Storm Front
  Jim Butcher

8: The Hundred Foot Journey
  Richard C. Morais

9: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
  Marie Kondo

10: The Battle of the Labyrinth
  Rick Riordan

11. Eating on the Wild Side
  Jo Robinson

Monday, December 14, 2015

Minion Cake and Cupcakes

Red velvet cake and chocolate cupcakes decorated as Stuart the Minion. These were birthday desserts for a 7 year-old's party.

Inspiration taken from this one on the Betty Crocker website. The main change was baking a cupcake for the eye in a silver foil wrapper.

The cupcakes are decorated with frosting, with a necco wafer for an eye to make it a little more 3D.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Flag Cake 2015

Happy 239th Birthday America! I made you a cake.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Cape Cod

Here are some snaps (mostly food pictures) from a roadtrip to Cape Cod, MA.

One of the stops was East Syracuse, NY at the Bull & Bear Roadhouse, where we discovered salt potatoes and locally brewed hard apple cider.
1911 Original Hard Cider and Mango Mojito.

Fiesta Salad and Cubano sandwich with loaded salt potatoes

We were staying in West Yarmouth, which had lots of great spots to grab some grub. Most of the places had some high-end prices for things like lobster rolls and scallops but had a casual feel with picnic benches and paper plates.

On the Waterfront

Local Cape Cod breakfast joint

First lobster roll of the trip at Moby Dick's Seafood Restaurant

Highland Lighthouse, Truro, MA.

Kennedy House as seen from the harbor tour

  One of my favorite knickknacks at the Edward Gorey House.

Lobster roll platter at Sesuit Harbor Cafe. The best one of the trip!

We drove through NYC on the way home. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Flourless Chocolate Cake

I wonder if someone in the Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia company has Celiac Disease or another gluten intolerance because the few gluten-free recipes I've tried from the website have been pretty good. They actually taste like baked goods and not some no-flour concoction. This recipe was baked in a springform pan, which was exciting since I don't use that tool often enough. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Raspberry White Chocolate Scones

As I've posted before, I'm usually a fan of free-form scones, but these were made with the same recipe as the last post. I used fresh raspberries and white chocolate chips for a nice sweet-tart combination. 

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Bunny Cake 2014

I know these posts are very belated, but I thought last Easter's bunny cake was especially cute so I'm posting it. Ditto for the future July 4th flag cake post.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Gluten-Free Fudgy Pecan Brownies

I was looking for a gluten-free dessert for a party and found this recipe on Martha Stewart's website. Although I love Martha Stewart and her omnimedia empire, I've had a bad brownie recipe from her cookbook before so I was a little hesitant to try these.

I'm happy to report that these did not disappoint. The name says it all! These were fudgy but moist and still tasted and felt like traditional brownies. Some brownie recipes that call for nuts don't work without them, but this recipe holds up even without the pecans - I made half with and half without nuts.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Required Reading

Two of these were on my eldest nephew's summer reading list... two of these I really did not like.Three are from book clubs and the rest were just my picks. 

1: The Road
  Cormac McCarthy

2: The Sandcastle Girls
  Chris Bohjalian

3: Station Eleven
  Emily St. John Mandel

4:  Ready Player One
  Ernest Cline

5: Go Set a Watchman
  Harper Lee

6: To Have and Have Not
  Ernest Hemingway

7: The Bishop's Wife
  Mette Ivie Harrison

8: Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
  Susanna Clarke

9: Neverwhere
  Neil Gaiman

10: The Lightning Thief
  Rick Riordan

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies

These cookies were suggested by a patron at a bake sale although she called them by their common name, Oatmeal Scotchies. I used the recipe on the bag of chips (using butter and vanilla not margarine and orange peel.) I made bar cookies because I was too lazy to work with sticky oatmeal cookie dough. I've since made them as drop cookies, which I liked much better. More crunch per cookie.

They were very vanilla-y and surprisingly not as sweet as I expected them to be - about the same as oatmeal cookies with raisins in them.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Sugar-filled Thanks

Apple pie with crumb topping, which was one of my contribution to Thanksgiving 2014.

The other was the Pecan Cake with Rum Frosting pictured on the top right below.

It was kind of a monochromatic palette. It was fall.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Potluck Cupcakes (Tailgate Theme)

I started a new job last October and about a week after I started, we had a potluck lunch. Wanting to impress my new coworkers, I went with an old favorite: Perfectly Chocolate Cupcakes with Perfectly Chocolate Frosting. (ProTip: despite what the recipe says, my cupcakes are almost always done after 17 minutes.) I dusted the cupcakes with orange sugar so that they would be the colors of the Cleveland Browns.

I'm happy that my much vaunted baking skills were confirmed and appreciated. We have potlucks every few months so I'm adding a new label to the blog!

Monday, September 07, 2015

Apple Oat Crisp

I made this classic fall dessert with this recipe's filling and this recipe's topping and followed the baking directions of the second. The best advice on adding sugar to the fruit part of the dish is to do so "according to taste" (you can use either white or brown sugar) and also to taste test the fruit that is the base of the dish. I've also added pecans or walnuts to the topping (about 1/4 cup.)

I have served this crisp with vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream (slightly sweetened with powdered sugar.) Either way is delicious.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Hall of Heroes

If you find yourself traveling through or near (or in) Elkhart, Indiana, check out this small but awesome shrine to superhero memorabilia. My pictures won't do it justice so I recommend checking out their website for a sneak peak of what you can find there. But see it in person! It's insanely cool.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Books and Books and Books...

More audiobooks! A few of these audiobooks are ones where I attempted to read the hard or softcover version but never got the whole way through. You guess which ones! I'm a much better listener than reader.

1: Good Omens
  Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

2: Ender's Game
  Orson Scott Card

3: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents America (The Book) (The Audiobook)
  Jon Stewart

4:  The Hobbit
  J.R.R. Tolkien

5: Rosewater
  Maziar Bahari

6: Little Princes
  Conor Grennan

7: Coraline
  Neil Gaiman

8: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
  Sherman Alexie

9: The Beekeeper's Apprentice
  Laurie R. King

10: The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace
  Jeff Hobbs

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Darth Vader Cake

I got a chance to implement my newly minted skills with this challenging cake! The cake pan came with directions of what decorating tip to use with each section in order to achieve the various textures and look. My cake was more challenging because I used chocolate frosting (which I darkened with some black dye) which is harder to control than buttercream. If I did it again, I might use chocolate buttercream or regular buttercream dyed black.

I was very proud of how it turned out. I forgot to take a picture before I delivered the cake so I had the party organizer take a picture for me. It's a little fuzzy, but it still looks awesome!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Wilton Method Course Two: Flowers and Cake Design

I took the second Wilton Course to build on what I learned in the first one. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures from the first three classes because they didn't end with anything worth shooting. Mostly, we practiced making flowers from royal icing and tracing patterns with buttercream icing.

For the final project (class four) we had to decorate a cake with the techniques of our choosing. I made some royal icing flowers the night before but didn't really have a plan for the entire cake. Here's what I ended up doing:

I really like the basket weave white-on-white look, but I'm not sure the cake works as a whole.

I'm glad I took both classes. I would recommend the in-person classes to anyone who likes to bake but isn't innately good at frosting and decorating. It helped to have an instructor guide me through each flower and border. Plus, each class ends with a snack!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Maybe 11

Here is another batch of audiobooks! This is a very important post since it's being posted from my phone! Hello future! I'm here!

1: The Secret History of Wonder Woman
  Jill Lepore

2: I Must Say 
My Life as Humble Comedy Legend
  Martin Short

3: The Work
My Search for a Life That Matters
  Wes Moore

4: The Good Lord Bird: A Novel
  James McBride  

5: The Professor and the Madman
  Simon Winchester

6: Loving Someone...
  Julie Fast

7: Yes Please
  Amy Poehler

8: American Lion
  Jon Meacham

9: Shotgun Lovesongs
  Nicholas Butler

10: Everything I Never Told You
  Celeste Ng

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Don't Let's Start

I thought I would have to hold off on posting the latest list of audiobooks, but I just finished book #10 earlier in the week for my book club. Even though it's been a while, only two of these books are from the monthly club - I skipped November (too depressing of a book) and December was a paper book with no audio counterpart. And of course, I listened to Serial (and other podcasts) which kept me away from my books.

1: How to Talk So Teens Will Listen & Listen So Teens Will Talk
  Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlich

2: The Circle
  David Eggers

3: Think Like a Freak
  Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

4: God Save the Sweet Potato Queens
  Jill Conner Browne

5: Creativity, Inc.
  Ed Catmull

6: The Round House
  Louise Erdrich

7: Unwind
  Neal Shusterman

8: Oryx and Crake
  Margaret Atwood

9: The Magicians
  Lev Grossman

10: Cold Mountain
  Charles Frazier

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Plants vs Zombies

These cupcakes and cake were for my littlest nephew's Plants vs. Zombies themed birthday party. I frosted and my sister decorated with the rolled buttercream fondant made (and dyed!) by yours truly.

Sunflower, Peashooter & Corn Gunner vs. Zombies & Conehead Zombies

My nephew made the paper decorations that topped the game board cake. He is a very talented artist!