Monday, February 10, 2014

Good Eats

So this has been quite the depressing winter. Cold, snow, extreme cold, more snow, thoughts of "Will the temps ever get back above freezing??!" I'm beginning to think the mountain of snow at the end of our driveway will soon be taller than our house. (It's sitting about 8-9 feet right now.)

When it's this cold, all I want to do is sit on the couch, wrapped in a blanket, and watch movies. And eat. Haha. I thought I'd share some new-to-us foods that we've been enjoying lately. Yes... a majority all of them might be junk food... but luckily I've been able to keep up the running to an extent so there hasn't been too much damage. Lol.

BBQ Chicken Nachos. I made these one night for dinner when we didn't really have anything else to eat. And I will make them again! They were fabulous. I just sauteed some chicken breast chunks in a bit of olive oil, then simmered them with BBQ sauce. (A thinner sauce works best.) Then spread tortilla chips out on a pan, top with the chicken, some additional BBQ sauce, and shredded cheddar & mozzarella cheese. Broil 3-4 minutes, then top with cilantro, tomatoes, green onions, and avocado! So good.

Russian Poppyseed Bread. Some of our friends had an 'Olympic-viewing' party for the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics. The hosts had a whole Russian food theme going, so my contribution to the dinner was this Russian Poppyseed Bread. It was actually pretty good! More of a sweet, yeasted coffee cake. It was fun to try something different. We also had chicken kiev, some strange (but good!) beef stuffed potatoes in a tomato-sour cream sauce, and a fruit pizza in the shape of the Olympic rings. We had a lot of fun watching (and perhaps laughing at) the fine clothing of each Olympic team.

Marshmallow Crispy Oreos. Omg. Seriously. These were an impulse buy at the grocery store on Saturday night, and I am slightly ashamed to say they are almost gone. The filling is crunchy and crispy like a rice crispy treat! I have visions of rice crispy treats with these cookies mixed in...

DONUTS! We were in charge of bringing breakfast for our Sunday school class, so you would think I would bake something homemade and fabulous. Nope. I picked up a dozen donuts at Tim Horton's and could not resist the cute Valentine themed donuts. Glittery pink sprinkles make everything taste better! (My fav: the chocolate dipped with sprinkles.)

Domino's Pan Pizza. Not gonna lie, Domino's is a pretty usual occurrence in our household. It's only about 1 mile away, it's fast, you can order online. This time we tried something new - the deep dish pan pizza. Ohhh, it was good. And it came in a super sleek black box. Made me feel like a secret agent pizza eater or something. Too bad our cheesy bread didn't make me feel as special. (Though that didn't keep me from eating it...)

Chocolate Mousse. This is one of my favorite desserts for Valentine's Day. My Business Man and I started making it in high school for special occasions and we still make it about once a year! I'm sharing the recipe on the Chief Market Blog... go check it out if you're interested.

So we've been eating lots of tasty food. I am hoping that my love of salads and fresh fruits and vegetables will come back soon. I have a feeling it might be awhile 'til summer....

Monday, February 3, 2014

The glamorous life of a cupcake baker

So, I've got a pretty sweet gig. Working for myself, I get to set my hours... and I only have a couple days a week that are really jam-packed. (Unless it's close to a holiday, then it's pretty much 'work every moment I am awake'.)

The weekly schedule is usually something like this:

  • Monday - grocery store, bank, clean house/kitchen, test new recipes, chill out a little
  • Tuesday - bake in preparation for cupcake counter on Wed
  • Wednesday - Sam's Club, finish up baking/prep work from Tues, sell cupcakes at counter from 3-6pm
  • Thursday - prepwork for weekend, grocery store (again), work on business plan/emails/marketing/etc
  • Friday - BAKE BAKE BAKE! This is my busiest baking day of the week.
  • Saturday - sell cupcakes at counter from 11am-3pm
  • Sunday - rest, hang out with my Business Man
  • Everyday - fill orders for pick-up at our house (pretty much a daily thing), update Facebook page, plan ahead for future holidays/specials
So Mondays are a pretty chill day, usually. I run a bunch of errands and then test recipes. I don't really love the errand-running. Especially in this cold weather. And because I usually don't get everything I need and have to run back to the grocery store every other day of the week. And unloading the groceries is never fun. 

But I do love the recipe testing. That's the best part!

We are gearing up for Valentine's Day so I've got lots of cupcake ideas on the brain - Red Hot Cinnamon, Chocolate-Covered Strawberry, Cherry Cordial, Raspberry Cheesecake, Conversation Heart (not so sure about that one yet...) and the list goes on!

I really wanted to try the Red Hot Cinnamon today, but despite my obsessive list making, I forgot to buy the cinnamon extract. (Though I did manage to remember to pick up a few bags of peanut butter M&M's... hmmm...) So I tested out the Chocolate-Covered Strawberry cupcake instead. And a new brownie recipe.

Strawberry cupcake batter! You bet I licked those beaters. 

Both required a chocolate ganache, which I make all the time. No testing necessary... bring cream to a simmer, pour it over some semisweet chips (a ratio of 4oz cream:5oz chocolate). Let it sit for 5 minutes before stirring until smooth and then adding a few glugs of corn syrup! Then it just has to cool down to the right consistency.

I thought I'd speed up the process today by storing the ganache in the fridge and then stirring every 5-10 minutes. I do this all the time. Well somehow today, I placed it in the fridge, and the fridge monster must have messed with it or something. Because when I opened the door, it exploded everywhere! (Or, ya know... it just fell from the shelf.)

I had to laugh. The funny thing is - I was putting groceries away earlier this morning and debated cleaning out the fridge because it was looking pretty gnarly. But I put it off. Glad I did, because I ended up cleaning it anyway!

But of course, it got into every nook & cranny of the door, the bottom of the fridge, the drawer to the freezer, and the seal to the freezer. And all over several of our condiments. (Anybody in the mood for chocolate-ranch?) Lovely. And all over the floor and shiny white cabinets. It's moments like these when I wish I had a personal assistant. Or housecleaner. Or just my mom within a 30 minute drive. (She is the best dishwasher/cleaner-upper ever!)

So after an hour of clean-up, it was back to normal and I could resume my day. Haha. So much fun. The end result was totally worth it though! Chocolate-Covered Strawberry - strawberry cupcake (with fresh strawberries!) filled and frosted with chocolate ganache, and topped with a chocolate-covered strawberry. Yum.

Hopefully tomorrow will be a little more glamorous. Or at least less messy. ;)

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