Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ode to Samantha, GLEE fanatic and true friend

Ode to Samantha:
*She is the icing on a cupcake, the ginger in gingerbread.* *wink wink Sam*

Allow me a moment to get sappy.  I remember when making a friend was as simple as being in the same class or liking the same games in school. The older you get, the more you realize you need those people that remember how you were when you younger, happier, and didn't give a damn about anything. Making friends is harder when you're all grown up. It takes lots of work. 

Being the self-centered, attention-seeking person that I am, I haven't had a REALLY close friend in years. Mainly because, to be honest, I am a shitty friend. I am working on that. When I became engaged in March, Sam was the only woman in my life that I knew I could truly rely on. At the time, we were not particularly close, but when I asked her to be my matron of honor, she said she was so honored and got all choked up about it. She sounded so genuine that you would have thought that I had asked her to be my MOH over say.. a twin sister or something. Sam is unselfish, giving, and beautiful. She is everything I wish I could be.

Her birthday was last week, and I knew I just had to something to show her much she means to me. This is kind of hard to explain because BFF's are usually mutual. I won't pretend to believe that I am Sam's BFF, but she is most certainly is mine.

Sam loves so many things, except vegetables, seafood, and red velvet cake. Her husband had already planned a dinner out with the gang, so making her an incredible meal was out of the question. I send him a quick tweet asking if I could make her a cake. He had no objections so my confectionery gears started grinding.

I also know Sam is a fan of a few tv shows and movies, but GLEE in particular. Glee is like a culmination of so many things that Sam loves: pop music, musical theater, triumph of the under-dog, and great educators that support students.So after about 30 seconds of thought, I decided that a Glee cake was the way to go. I am thinking: fondant letters with a butter cream icing.

Sudden pause: Jonathan is freaking out when I spill this plan. He thinks this is waaaaaay to involved for transport directly after work in 100* degree heat. He applauds the thought, but thinks it is ill advised to try, yet again, a new recipe/technique when something this big is on the line. *I told him to shove it and not be so critical*

So what if I had never worked with fondant before! How hard could it be? I did a quick google search of Glee cakes, and saw 3 or 4 varieties. Then I stumbled upon some cute cupcakes involving minimal fondant and Cheerios cereals. (Apparently, this is a reference to the cheerleaders on the show, which are referred to as "the Cheerios".) I thought it was definately something I could pull off. Then, I got the idea of making some "popcorn cupcakes" so it would be like sitting around watching her favorite show with a bowl of popcorn. So here is how it went down:

Deadline: Friday  at 6:30 p.m. 

Tuesday: Went to the grocery store and bought a gagillion things. I couldn't decide on which cupcake flavor to buy, so I got a yellow/chocolate swirl. That way everyone could be satisfied. Got buttercream icing knowing she likes it best. Also, got a variety of primary-colored fondants. yum yum.

Wednesday: Day of mental preparation/anguish. Purchased shiny, silver foil cupcake papers, and a bakery box for transport of precious cargo. Made it home and began prep on the "popcorn" component of the cupcakes, which is actually marshmallows. This is how to do it:

1. Using the miniature marshmallows, take a pair of sharp scissors and make 2, crosswise cuts across the flat part of the mellow. It is incredible how realistic this looks. *note: this technique could also double as a molar on a toothy cake.* Anyway, it takes, like a dozen or more per cupcake, repeat this step approximately 9 million times if you are making a huge batch.
     2. After I had snipped about 1/2 a bag of these, I sealed them up and cut fondant squares with a knife. I used a simple template cut out of a manila folder. You have to roll it much thinner than you think you do. A little goes a long way. FYI, the hotter fondant gets, the more stretchy it is. My squares didn't stay perfect as I cut them under track lighting, but they were close enough to satisfy me.  I put them in the fridge for use later.

    3. I also spent some time printing little Glee logos off the internet, printing them in color, and cutting them out. I couldn't afford the edible paper, even if I could find it. I made a mental note to remind everyone not to eat the paper logos at the party. (Didn't work... WeeFee ate his anyway.)

    Thursday: Baked the actual cupcakes, iced the ones that were to be the popcorn ones. I added the "marshmallow popcorn" and used an aerosol food-coloring to dye it yellow as if buttered. By the way, I think I can understand why those workers at the popcorn factories talk about the toxic, butter flavoring. That dye smelled like I was using spray paint, but there was no SNAFU. It was food dye..*

    I wasn't satisfied at first, but after seeing 3 together it started to look awesome.
    Friday: Raced home from work, iced remaining cupcakes. First you adhere the fondant square in the middle, then you dip the cupcake on a plate of cheerios. After that, apply a small dot of icing to the back of the paper logo and adhere to the fondant. Add some candy sprinkles for an extra pop of color, and  you get these beautiful results...

    Glee is abounding at this point!!!
    We get the cupcakes all loaded in the car and dash across town to the restaurant without incident. We get them in the restaurant fridge just before she arrives. She has no clue they are coming out. Her expression was priceless...

    Love you Sam. Happy Birthday!

    If you like what you see, please Follow Me for more recipes and cooking related antics.

    Monday, July 5, 2010

    Berry Storage and Other Conundrums...

    Berry consumption is something new to me. We didn't have a lot of fruit growing up at my house. Mostly processed carb crap.

     "Fruit" at my house growing up. I don't blame my mother, she tried.

    However, I have recently taken a liking to berries, and being that it is summer, I can actually get them in season.

    The stolen "My Fit Food" diet calls for lots of berries and fruit. So I bought some to put in some Greek Yogurt they recommend. Here's the problem though...the berries will be bad tomorrow. They are ALWAYS bad tomorrow. What the heck happens? So before I lose $15 in strawberries, blackberries, and oh so delicious raspberries, I googled how to store them:

    "Refrigerate unwashed berries in an uncovered container. Wash only directly before consuming." Okay...well I always used to wash them right away so that was error number 1 fixed. Now, the uncovered container...

    No no, it's not that I don't  have a container that I can't leave uncovered, it is fear. Why fear you ask? While cleaning out the fridge tonight to put in my new groceries I saw, to my great vexation, gnats from the WTF incident of mid-May. How the hell they have managed to survive in my fridge after I tossed everything and bleached it out is beyond me. It is just sad really.

    So in lieu of having gnats get into my berries I opted to cover them lightly with plastic wrap. We'll see how it goes. Have a berry-licious day.


    I'm not going to lie, I hang out at The  Manor Falls Estate a lot because of many reasons. Yes, hanging out with buds is fun. Drinking waaaaay to much and cooking for my buds is great, too. But the truth of the matter is that I am a complete mooch. The Manor has access to tons of fine cookware by Calphalon  *drool* as well as the occasional popping up of nice cuts of meat, produce, and foreign foods.

    Kail is the chief purveyor of the MFE. Jonathan and the Frenchie (aka Weefee) split the rent. However, Kail pretty much dictates over the menagerie that has become the Manor Falls Estate. What I love about my bud Kail, aka "Preston Underjaw" is that he lives by this motto: "I'll buy it if you cook it."  (Well, most of the time and as long as he doesn't have to hunt down too many odd ingredients.) So when I tell him I have the urge to cook, he usually dashes off to the store and buys a kitchen full of food.

    Sunday, he got the hankering for kabobs. So while the boys were playing video game (boring!) I contented myself with making Kabobs. Now, what do we know about me and grocery stores? Of course, it started pouring down rain. So the grill was out. So I cut up these huge steaks and  hung them over a roasting pan in the oven. They turned out kind of plain despite my ardent attempts to flavor them with spices and roasted garlic. Oh least they turned out medium well, and not chewy. They looked pretty, too.

    Why I had to Grocery Shop in the Rain and Other Wordlessness

    Dinner: "Premium" hotdogs, instant potatoes, 2 canned veggies. Deplorable...

    The Grocery Store, the Rain, and Other Broken Records

    I can't quite recall if I have ever mentioned this before, but every time I go to the grocery rains. Seriously. They should take me to the Sahara to grocery shop so that it can change back to the green utopia it was in the ice age or whatever. So aside from getting my cardio workout via anger (i.e.high blood pressure) about the weather, I spent a good fortune at the store (not the poor people one) buying real food.

    I have been neglecting you my poor bleaders and I feel guilty. My foodie blogroll count for this week: a big fat goose egg. Even the regulars have given up. *Sigh.*

    So here is what's going down: Four days, four home cooked meals. The meals were inspired by a local weight loss joint called "My Fit Foods" who promises that everyone loses 8-12 lbs. on average if you eat by their guidelines. Cool, how much does it cost? Between $500 and $600 for 21 days worth of food. F that! I took a big pay cut to work at my new job, and $600 covers the student loan and car payment for a month. Geez.

    So, I looked at the portion sizes they were selling...(which let's not kid ourselves, that is what they are really selling) and decided to attempt to copy their foods and portion sizes at home. Low Glycemic, high protein, low carb.

    This week's menu (which Jon does not know about yet) will consist of the following dinner meals. He will be forced to able to choose from:

    Mediterranean Pesto Chicken Wraps with Hummus.
    Chicken Fajitas with Beans and Guacamole
    Turkey Chili with Beans
    Small Beef Tenderloins with Squash and Salad.
    Turkey Spaghetti on Whole Wheat Pasta.

    Be proud America, I have the fajitas, tenderloins, and Mediterranean chicken marinating as we speak. Of course, I had to clean out the fridge again. Greatest discovery: milk expired on 5/29. Happy dining.

    Friday, July 2, 2010

    Cooking Hiatus, a Sad Sad Event

    The wedding is fast approaching for those of you paying attention and every spare moment has been devoted to trying on this, or ordering that, or choosing this, or depositing that. It is enough to drive someone mad. Now I know why people pay for wedding planners. I personally can't let go of the control, so I opted not to have one. (like I could afford one anyway. sheesh).

    That being said, things like laundry, vacuuming, and grocery shopping have all fallen by the way side. I haven't been to a real grocery store since the last blog post. Seriously, there is no food in the house that is safe for human consumption. Every week I vow to go, but time always runs short, forcing me to decide between the poor people grocery store or waiting. You see, I kind of live in a food desert. Thank God my job has decent food at it or else I would probably be 900lbs. Jon works in a food desert over by Hobby Airport. It's no wonder we are both having problems with weight loss.

    It really bothers me because I feel like I am spending way too much on going out and not providing something more wholesome for Jon and me to eat. It's depressing. What's worse is that I have yet to use my rosette irons either. *sad*

    This weekend, Jon is heading to the deer lease and I am staying home. I don't get July 5th off for Independence Day, which sucks. So while everyone else is off galavanting at parties and eating hotdogs, I will be sitting at my office twiddling my thumbs. I will not be attending any parties to try out any awesome recipes. It's just crap. *rant*

    This post really had a point at the start, but I have been so distracted that it has pretty much amounted to a bunch of rants. In the mean time, I will have to apologize and post some pictures when I get in.