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Archive for the ‘Friends’ Category

Chocolate Mustache Candy Mold

I was flipping ever-so-slowly through my new Food Network Magazine on Saturday when I saw an advertisement for Chocolate Mustaches on Sticks.

While the simple fact that it’s a chocolate mustache on a stick might give one pause, I stopped because, well, I love mustaches on sticks. I think they’re the bee’s knees, the apple of my eye, the most awesome piece of awesomeness since the invention of awesome. Why? Because I may or may not have a few wedding pictures out there that contain mustaches on sticks. And because they’re just hilarious.

The fact that Nibbee Chocolate Company sells these little buggers is just too fantastic. They’re not too unreasonably priced either – $1.99 each. Still, I felt like I would need more than just one. I have so many people who could – and should – benefit from a chocolate mustache on a stick. The names that come to mind are too many to be listed, but suffice to say that I feel everyone I know needs to have their own little piece of chocolate facial hair.

What, then, is a girl to do on a shoestring budget?

She’s to make her own, of course.

Enter the idea of Google Searching “Chocolate Mustache Molds.” Now insert the happy dance when I not only found one (HOORAY!) but found that it was priced just as cheaply at one pre-made mustache (HOORAH!) I’m buying it now.

Really. Right now.

Done. It’s bought. I have officially bought a chocolate mustache mold. I might be the coolest person I know. Okaaaaay. Not really.

I am the only person I know that owns this particular candy mold, though. Woot!

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Absentee Blogger

Under normal circumstances, I would be inclined to feel exceptionally guilty about my absence from the blog for the last week. Especially after having a highly visible conversation with myself here about how I would do much, much better at not being an absentee blogger. But you know what? I’ve had a lot go down in the last week that has caused an obscene amount of celebration that involved food I did not cook myself. No cooking = no good recipes to share.

Why was a celebrating?

I’ll tell you why. I was celebrating because June was a spectacular month for me this year. June brought the following to me:

1. A promotion at work that involves a title change, increased job duties, and supervisory responsibility. Yeah, it was a pretty awesome change. With said promotion came a raise. I’ll find out more about how that translates to take home pay when I receive my check on Wednesday. Cross your fingers it’s a good thing because I need some extra moolah. See, I’m starting a big, fat savings account because….

2. I am engaged. Shannon popped the question on Tuesday, and I, of course, said yes. After we “slow danced” to Faith No More’s cover of “This Guy’s in Love with You” in the middle of our dining room while I was wearing my gym clothes. It went down just like that…with a little help from Zac Effron. Or his likeness. We went out together on Tuesday night to enjoy a newly engaged couple’s meal at our favorite local Irish pub. I ate copious amounts of their hand-breaded fried mushrooms dipped in their sinful horseradish sauce. I imbibed in my favorite beer of the moment. We topped it off with a jaunt to a local ice cream landmark. Celebrating, you see? It happened all week. Not only for the engagement, but also because…

3. I turned 30 yesterday. The big three-oh. And you know what? It was wonderful. I was surrounded by wonderful friends and amazing family who made my day beautiful and filled with love. My backyard was transformed, through the hard work of my babiest sister T and Shannon, into a beautiful multicolored light and lantern birthday venue. Gorgeous. It was absolutely lovely even with the scorching 90+ degree weather. I couldn’t have asked for a better day to enter into my third decade.

So, I hope you will forgive me (and I will forgive myself) for being an absentee blogger. It’s just that so much happened. I felt as if I should take some time to live it all up and enjoy the moments as they happened. I wanted to be able to reflect on them without analyzing them too close to the time that they happened. And I did. I am glad for that.

Now we’ll be back to business as usual. Although, I’ll probably be focusing on a lot of healthy recipes for a while. Don’t get me wrong,, I’ll still throw up a shout out to a whoopie pie or a delectable cookie more often than once a month. However, I have to buckle down on this Weight Watchers road. I have 35 pounds to lose to be at my goal weight. My new goal? To be at goal for my wedding on May 20, 2011. I have less than a year to get cracking. This is me lighting a fire under my own tush.

Flame on!

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Um, hello. My name is Jess. I am a not-so-closeted Star Wars fan. I may or may not own action figures (that are boxed up, thank you). I also may or may not own a Darth Vader helmet with voice changing capabilities and heavy breathing simulation. I may wear it occasionally to make crank phone calls.

I’m kidding.

About the crank calls.

Given what we’ll from here on out refer to as my “condition,” it should come as no surprise that I was almost salivating when I saw the Star Wars Cookie Cutters from Williams- Sonoma on Bakerella’s blog a few weeks ago. I mean, salivating. I even did a little dance when I saw that she was giving away a few sets.

I cried (just a little) when I did not win one.

But you know why that doesn’t matter anymore? It doesn’t matter because my awesome from Amanda and her darling baby Sofie gifted me with my very own set as an early birthday present. And you know what else? They even found a Star Wars apron to go with it! An apron! Holy Tonton!

Yes, the above is an obscure reference to a fictional creature that was ridden by Luke Skywalker and Han Solo in Episode IV: The Empire Strikes Back. So sue me.

I’m absolutely making myself, and Shannon, some Boba Fett cookies this weekend. Boba. Fett. Cookies. If you say it to yourself enough, you’ll begin to understand the magic. Or maybe you won’t. If you don’t, though, that means more cookies for me!

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Dutch Apple Pie

I’ve mentioned that birthdays have become a chance for me to create edible presents for my friends. It’s what I’m doing currently. Who’s to say that in the next couple of years I won’t have changed my MO completely. For the moment, though, it’s what works.

It’s also what enables me to bake this yummy Dutch Apple Pie for my friend Amanda. It’s her favorite dessert, and since I couldn’t come up with a solid idea for True Blood cupcakes, despite many hours of thinking and scanning the world around me for inspiration, it became her birthday present from me. I should also mention that said birthday present was delivered hot from the oven last night. That’s right, we go all out for birthdays around here.

Dutch Apple Pie
Serves 8

For pie
1 9-inch deep dish pie crust, unbaked
5 apples, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon cornstarch

For cinnamon crumb topping
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 cup cold butter, cut into pads

Preheat your oven to 400 F.

In a large bowl combine the apples with the sugar, cinnamon and corn starch. Toss to thoroughly cover all apple slices with the cinnamon sugar mixture and the corn starch. You want to make sure you get a thick, syrupy filling with plenty of sweet flavor. Pour apple mixture into uncooked pie shell.

I’m still not very adept at using my mother’s pie crust recipe, so I opted for a frozen pie crust. I know, shame on me. One day, probably around the holidays, I’ll perfect it. As it stands,  you could check out Joy the Baker’s Easy No-Roll Pie Crust or Pioneer Woman’s Perfect Pie Crust or any other pie crust recipe that you think would be appropriate. I will be using my mom’s recipe in the future, I assure you, but for this pie, though, we went with safe.

Because it was a birthday gift. And because I’d already had one massive failure in the kitchen to deflate my spirit for the day. Royal icing isn’t always your friend in a time of need.

I digress.

To make the crumbly, cinnamony, all around tasty topping, you’re going to combine your dry ingredients in a handy-dandy bowl. Then add the pads of butter and using a pastry blender, or two butter knives, or, heck, even your fingers, blend the butter into flour mixture until it becomes crumbly. It was my first date with my pastry blender. I think it may be true love.

Top your apple-filled pie crust with the crumb mixture and pop your pie into the oven for 35 – 40 minutes, or until the pie crust is a nice golden brown and so is your crumbly Dutch topping.

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Today is a super busy day.

Man-baby Shower. 30th Birthday Dinner & Drinks. Making sure my house doesn’t look like two slobs live in it.

That does not mean I don’t have a super secret project to share tomorrow. Or lots of great recipes from this weekend/this week that are going to rock. I have both, and I can’t wait to share.

Starting tomorrow.

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As you get older, you start to realize that sometimes the best present you can give someone is something you’ve made. In a lot of ways, it’s like reverting to elementary school, but instead of gifting your mother with a hand-colored macaroni necklace or a marigold you planted yourself, you can make more substantial gifts.

Take for instance the fact that a big chunk of my girlfriends are turning 30 this year, as am I. Presents in the traditional sense – clothes, jewelry, DVDs – are more the exception than the rule. In the last few years, we’ve moved from gift giving to time giving. You spend your time with me on my birthday, and I consider myself a lucky gal. Of course, 30 is something to be celebrated. Right? Right.

Personally, I’ve felt the need to come up with a gift for the folks who have already gone the way of their third decade on this planet. I have also felt it important that it be something I’ve made. I want to put a little heart and a little love into their gift. Sure, I want to finish it off with some sort of sassy card, but the gift needs to be top to bottom them and top to bottom me. A little amalgamation of two friends. If you know anything about me and my escapades in the kitchen as of late, you know what I’m getting at.

Cupcakes.

I know, I know. You’re probably thinking, seriously? And my response is seriously. Be it right or wrong, it feels as if it’s the thing for me to do. So I’m doing it.

My dear, dear friend Jessica turned 30 this month. Yes, her name is Jessica. Yes, that is how we met. It’s a somewhat long story involving a merry-go-round, a girl named LeAnna, and one fateful recess almost 24 years ago. I won’t bore you with the details, but let’s just say that thanks to LeAnna and her big mouth, I met Jessica. Jessica who has not only been a fixture in my life through all the awkwardness of puberty and high school dating and post-college successess and failures, but who also began referring to her 30th Birthday as “The Dirty 30.”

You know what that meant, right? I had to make “Dirty 30” cupcakes. Had to. No choice. It was mandatory.

So I did.

Yes, it’s a take on the old “dirt and worms” dessert, but aren’t they just too cute? I was pretty excited about the 30s as well. Making them out of candy melt turned into quite the art project, but after a little bit of time to practice, I managed to make them passable if not perfect. Perfect may have to wait for something that’s not themed around dirt. However, it was the perfect occasion to debut the “A Little Something Sweet” labels.

Ta dah!

I was quite proud. As you can tell from the fact that I took a picture of a label. What can I say? It’s the little things that bring me happiness in life.

Amanda is up next in the Tour de Birthdays. I already have an idea worked up for what she’ll be receiving. Cupcakes? Maybe. Maybe not. I can’t divulge here as she reads this little blog of cooking love. Just know, Manda Pie, that I have something up my sleeve.

Are you ready? I am.

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