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Posted on Dec 22, 2011 in Fail, Food | 26 comments

Cake “Truffles”

3 Sibs, 3 Days

In honor of there being merely THREE days until Christmas, I attempted to make cake pops for the first time ever. Well, okay, they weren’t really cake pops as much as cake balls (heh). And as a self-proclaimed lover of all miniaturized and adorable foods, I didn’t know why I had never bothered to make them before.

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Now I do.

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Making cake pops is not for the faint of heart, nor is it for the lazy. I knew the general principle behind them. You mix a baked cake with frosting, shape ‘em, refrigerate ‘em, stick ‘em, and cover ‘em with chocolate. It sounds simple, right? Well, having to make an entire dessert in order to make a different dessert should have been my first clue that this wasn’t going to be a cakewalk (badoom-ching!).

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It is an extremely lengthy process. Being that I most definitely fall into the “lazy” category, I tried to make it easy for myself by spreading the steps out. I baked the cake (a box of Pillsbury Holiday Funfetti that I mixed with some green food coloring for funsies) on Tuesday night, then combined everything last night. With the refrigeration and the chocolate and everything though, it still took forevvvver, and by the end I had run out of both chocolate and patience.

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Now, I’ll be honest here and admit that this half-assed dessert effort wasn’t entirely the cake pops’ fault. I couldn’t find lollipop sticks or candy melts at Target or the grocery store, hence the amending of pops to balls (heh) because I was too scared lazy to go to Michael’s, even though I know they carry both there. In and of itself, though, not really a big deal.

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I also ended up with a bag of white chocolate instead of colored candy melts for the coating. This unfortunately, didn’t pan out that well for me because I had to find out the hard way that you can’t just add food coloring to melted chocolate and expect it to turn into colored melted chocolate.

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Nope. You end up with gross, clumpy, chocolate-ish paste. Le sigh.

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Don’t try to get fancy with me, Powell.

For the few truffles that I did actually cover with the leftover, untainted chocolate (thank goodness I was melting it in batches!), it worked really well though. Unfortunately with the chocolate shortage, I didn’t have enough to cover all 50,000 cake balls (heh) — seriously, it makes SO many of them — so I drizzled the it over the rest of them in what I thought was an artistic fashion…

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… but was clearly not. But okay, enough complaining. Let’s focus on the important stuff:

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Like how freakin’ delicious they were, in spite of the hassle. They are just like little doughy balls of Heaven. Nomnommitynom. In the future, however, I’ll probably stick to cupcakes as my miniaturized cake-form and leave the cake pops to the pros.

Have you made cake pops or cake balls before? Any secrets or tricks of the trade I’m missing out on?

Also, holy smokes — yesterday’s giveaway is still blowing up! Get your entries in for a chance to win a Vera Bradley bag!

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Posted on Dec 15, 2011 in Dear Diary, Food | 13 comments

A Very Benny Birthday

Happy birthday, big brother!


Some things never change.

Yes, even though my family went out to celebrate Ben‘s birthday over the weekend, today is his actual birthday! Unlike last year, I will refrain from dedicating this entire post to my bro turning the big 2-8. I will, however, catch you on the rest of Saturday’s celebration.

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Most of which took place in the kitchen as I baked a cake of epic proportions (the dogs acted as crumb-catchers, natch.)

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I made a double-layer cake, with one layer of pumpkin cake and one layer of vanilla. Go big or go home, right?

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Now, the cakes may have been boxed, but they were smothered in 100% made-from-scratch cream cheese frosting.

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Plus frosting in-between the layers too, of course. I was super excited about icing the cake because it let me put to use my new frosting skillz that I picked up from that culinary school class I audited!

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My sister Jenny served as the official decorator, and we covered the cake in blue sugar (because it definitely needed MORE sugar) and tiny candy letters that we randomly found in a drawer at my parents’. We’re nothing if not classy.

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It turned out awesome! I didn’t do such a great job with leveling the cakes exactly, plus they were made from different mixes so they baked up in slightly different ways. So the layers weren’t exactly seamless, but considering the distinct lack of swiveling cake stands and offset spatulas, I’d say it’s not too shabby.

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The one thing I kind of forgot, though, is that when your cake is double-layered, you get double the cake in every slice. Which isn’t a BAD thing, it’s just something to be mindful of when cutting.

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SUGAR RUSH.

My cream cheese icing recipe, just in case you are interested, was:

2 sticks butter, softened
1 8 oz. package of low-fat cream cheese, softened
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups confectioner’s sugar

Cream together the butter and cream cheese in a standing mixer (or with a hand mixer, but just be careful of the potential flyaway face-sugaring that might follow.) Then add in the confectioner’s sugar, 1/2 a cup at a time. Add in the vanilla extract at the end. Ta-da!

Just remember, this makes more than enough icing to frost TWO whole cakes, so adjust accordingly if you’re making a normal cake like a normal person.

If you got to pick any dessert, not just cake, to have for your birthday, what would it be? I actually would really like one year to get to have a birthday flan. It’s. Just. So. Good. (Also, can’t help but think of that episode of The Office where Creed asks for birthday cobbler, ahahahaha.)

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Posted on Oct 11, 2011 in Dear Diary, Food | 30 comments

The Book of Love

Please prepare yourself for the wedding-picture smorgasbord that you are about to witness. It’s even worse than normal this time. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Love in bloom

Saturday, I went to a wedding. A beautiful, love-filled wedding. It was an absolutely perfect tribute to two of my very good friends, John-Paul and Abby. But before there was a wedding, there was a rehearsal! And following that was the rehearsal dinner, complete with good food…

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Good friends…

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And great photobomb attempts.

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But the preliminaries could only last for so long. This was just the precursor to something even better, remember?

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Since Steve was a groomsman in the wedding, I got to tag along for the entire thing!

Photog at Large

And even though I wasn’t an official part of the wedding, Ben was the videographer so I was also there to help him out (which I did a little, when I wasn’t forcing him to take pictures of me instead, hahaha.)

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What can I say? Vanity, thy name is blogger. ;)

The gang's all here

The two of them decided to take a shuttle around Baltimore to take photos at some scenic spots before the wedding. If the whole “can’t see each other before the ceremony” thing isn’t an issue for you, I highly recommend this! It was fun because the whole wedding party was going around together, but also really special because they had lots of time to take the photos they wanted. Ben and I both snuck in a few shots (hopefully not pissing off the awesome photographer, haha) of our own.

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First steps
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Turns out Baltimore? Kinda beautiful despite everything I’ve learned from The Wire, hahaha.

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The wedding was really beautiful, and was just so completely THEM. The unique venue, the colors, the nods to Halloween (their favorite holiday, of course!), the vows… all of it spoke to their personalities perfectly, as well as their combined efforts to make the wedding meaningful and personal. Both the ceremony and reception were held at Westminster Hall, a former church (now special event venue) that also happens to be where Edgar Allen Poe was buried! Neat, right?

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Err, Mrs.? Hahahaha.

Of course, what kind of weight loss/food/whatever-I-am blogger would I be if I didn’t take a beat to talk about the food? Oh man, the appetizers being passed during cocktail hour were INcredible. Warm crab dip? Why thank you, Baltimore!

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Also, cupcake cake. ‘Nuff said.

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The real marker of the wedding being thoroughly and totally THEIRS though, was the music. You can tell they put so much thought and consideration into the pieces they used. It didn’t hurt that it was all music I loved already – Joshua Radin, the theme from Friday Night Lights (amazing!)… pretty much the kind of music you’d hear on Scrubs. They even put the words to one of my favorite love songs on the back of the program… which was also the series finale song on Scrubs.

Primp

The book of love is long and boring
No one can lift the damn thing
It’s full of charts and facts and figures
And instructions for dancing
But I, I love it when you read to me
And you, you can read me anything

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The book of love has music in it
In fact, that’s where music comes from
Some of it is just transcendental
Some of it is just really dumb, but I,
I love it when you sing to me, and
You, you can sing me anything

With this ringFirst Kiss
First Dance

The book of love is long and boring
And written very long ago
It’s full of flowers and heart-shaped boxes
And things we’re all too young to know, but
I, I love it when you give me things
And you, you ought to give me wedding rings

Picturesque

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Posted on Jul 19, 2011 in Daily Eats | 2 comments

Daily Eats – 7/19/11

Loooooong day. No time for subtitles. Went to observe a culinary class this evening, which was super fun, but also meant carrot cake for dinner. Hey, there are worse fates. ;)

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Update tomorrow. <3

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Posted on Jan 27, 2011 in Dear Diary, Food | 6 comments

Final Vacation Post – Adios Miami!

Before I jump into things, has everyone had a chance to see the article on Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen! in the Falls Church News-Press today? Okay, sorry, had to do another shameless plug. Onto the actual post!

Well, here we are mi amigos, the final (and extremely belated) vacation post! Where we last left off, we had just finished the final port stop: Roatan, Honduras! All that was left on the cruise was a final day at sea (sorry, not too many pictures taken of that rainy day!) and then our couple of days left in Miami before heading back up north!

We did get to have one last delicious dinner on the cruise that day, but because of I was so stuffed from eating throughout the day I only partook in 2 of the customary 4 courses, hahaha.

Entree:

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A delicious, perfectly cooked medium-rare filet mignon (wrapped in bacon, naturally!) with a pea puree pyramid and carrot mash.

Dessert:

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An almond amaretto cake. Mm-mmm. It a nice portion (a small sliver) and I looooove almond-flavored anything! It was the perfect finish to all of the amazing meals we (over)ate while cruising.

Admittedly, it wasn’t as good as the almond-pistachio cake we ended up having at Icebox Cafe in Miami, but then again, Oprah did declare their cake “the best cake in America” so I don’t think our sweet little cruise could compete.

Here’s a photo of that deliciousness that Ben took while while we were visiting Icebox:

Seriously, Oprah. You know your cake.

We spent the last two days of vacation lounging around Miami Beach, including eating at the famous Joe’s Stone Crab in South Beach! We hung out by the pool, walked along the beach, and got to check out the awesome Art Deco fair that they had going on!

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Hokay! So, here we are. I promised you pictures of me, lounging in all my swimsuited glory. While yes, you have probably a few already via some past cruise posts (here and here), the fact that I was wearing a swimsuit was kind of incidental. So I forced myself to pull out all my knowledge from watching 16 cycles of America’s Next Top Model, channel my inner Tyra, and posed for a couple of pics. Mortifying though it may be is.

Click the “Read More” to see them… if you dare (does this qualify as “NSFW”? I have no idea. Well, at least you’re prepared.) And try not to judge too harshly. I’ve still got at least 30 pounds to go! And also bear in mind how hard I would have laughed in your face had you asked me to do this 40 pounds ago.

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