Monday, December 13, 2010

Walk Now for Autism Cookie Exchange

Thanks to the many who helped us raise $300.00 for the Kansas City Walk Now for Autism!  The cookie exchange was a lot of fun and we surely did enjoy some delicious treats!!!

Many Thanks to:





And to all the friends who showed up and brought cookies, to all those who showed up to eat cookies!

Members of the Academy of the Arts dance team
(and my son, LOL!) pose wearing their
Walk Now for Autism shirts!
Thanks to much, girls!!   

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

 My 5 year old's kindergarten class had a big old Thanksgiving feast in their classroom last week.  They put on an adorable little program telling all the parents in attendance what they were thankful for. My little man was thankful for "lego batman."  Ha!! =)
 Here's my little man, all dressed like a pilgram, getting ready to dine on grapes. =)

 We have thanksgiving with my inlaws every year. This is their lovely table, all set and ready for us to scarf down thanksgiving offerings. I truely am thankful for my wonderful inlaws!

 I love stuffing. The only way I can eat it is if it's gluten free.... so, I made some this year instead of staring at everyone else's and wishing I could eat it.
I made this delish cheesecake using gluten free gingersnaps as the crust.  Yummmo!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pastry School is Exhausting!

So, here's how it works. I arrive at school somewhere between 6:15 and 6:30 on Thursday mornings. I lay claim to a work space and review my assignments for the week. Every week, each of the 15 of us have assigned production usually including either cookies or cake, a bread, and some other pastry.  We work until 3 or so, then we pack it up and head home. Then we arrive first thing in the AM on Friday to finish our production and transform our baking classroom into a working pastry shop. People start lining up, in the halls, around 2:30 so they can have first crack at whatever is in the case that particular week. We often run out of some of the best sellers (like fruit tarts) within 30-45 minutes of the shops doors being opened.  We run the shop from 3PM until about 5:30.

I knew, going in, that it was going to be a lot of work. I was never really prepared for just how tired I would be on Friday nights. I usually come home, hug my children, eat a light dinner... and then head to bed. I just don't have the energy for anything else.  It's worth it though.





Friday, November 12, 2010

See why I stink at this blogging thing?

See the date on the post directly under this one. Yea, August.

I'll update in the next day or two.  =)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Pastry School

I officially started classes on the 17th. Naturally, the first day was pretty easy. We went over the ins and outs of the program, talked about the layout of the bake shop, went over the syllabus, and everything else one could expect on the first day of classes. Pastry school at the college I attend is broken down into 4 different classes for the first semester and continuation classes for the second. The first consist of:
  • Pastry Shop Production
  • Pastry Shop Business Basics
  • Pâtisserie
  • Pastry Shop Principals
We went home early on the first day but were assured that it was highly unlikely we'd ever go home early again. We have far too much to do.

The pastry program is 100% self sustained. The program spends about $2000.00 a week on ingredients. We sell everything we make - the goal is to break even. In the instances where we make more than that, the extra money is put into a fund to purchase new and or specialized equipment for the bake shop. Just recently, Chef was able to purchase a bunch of Silpat liners and some 3d patterns to use with Joconde sponge batter.

On the 2nd day we started baking. We stuck to the basics, short dough, chocolate chunk cookies, peanut butter cookies, and Mexican wedding cookies.

I'm realizing, already, how difficult it is to be gluten free in pastry school. It is definitely going to be a challenge. There is flour flying everywhere. The smell of the yummy goodies wafts through the bake shop, into the production kitchen, and out into the halls. It's really difficult to refrain from grabbing just a bite of two of this.... or that but I'll be alright. =)



These are seriously the best chocolate chip cookies on the planet. My husband said so. =)

We open the pastry shop next Friday at 3PM.  I will be responsible for baking Challah, Peanut Butter Cookies, and white high-ratio cakes. I'll also be responsible for Cannoli. Ohhhhh how I love Cannoli. I have NO idea how to make it, I've never done it. Yet, I have to produce the tastiest and prettiest cannoli so that it can be SOLD in the pastry shop. Oh my.

I can do this.... I'm totally ready. But, I already know that it's going to take a lot out of me to be in these classes. It's a LOT of work. I have a goal in mind though. I need to work in this industry and get some experience under my belt before I can own my own shop. I'm ready for this adventure. =)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Free Stuff Fridays @ Lauren's Hope

Do you know anyone who wears a medical ID bracelet?  It used to be really easy to spot one because let's face it... they were ugly. Today, that is not the case.  Lauren's Hope has changed the look of medical ids radically and I am happy to say that I am a proud owner of not only 1- but 2 interchangeable bracelets.  I just found the next one I want... and I can't wait to order it. Most people have NO idea that my bracelet is a medical id bracelet - unless I turn over my wrist so they can see the underneath!! The one I'm currently wearing is called "Changing Seasons."

The great folks over at Lauren's have started a new and fun "Free Stuff Fridays" - so hop over to their website and take a peek at the adorable bracelets they have.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Bean's Birthday!

Please allow me to wander away from the kitchen for a moment! This weekend my lovely daughter celebrated her 9th birthday. Well... since a birthday is nothing without cake - we decided to go with gluten free vegan cupcakes. Her theme was "pink pirate" so without further ado.... I give you pink pirate cupcakes!

I am always amused by the kids reactions when they find out that Bean is on a "special diet." This comes up at school all the time. However, the topic never came up yesterday. The very same kids who thumb their little noses to Bean's gluten free bread simply could NOT get enough of her cupcakes.

My husband was the life of the party. He spent a great portion of the day tossing small children several feet in the air to watching them fall into the pool, get out, and ask to be thrown again!

Case and point - a flying child!

My sweet bean opening her gifts - she received so many wonderful things. But, the most important thing was that she was surrounded
by wonderful friends and family.... and lots of love. 
(And cupcakes!)

Happy 9th Birthday, my precious Bean!
♥ I love you!! ♥

Friday, June 18, 2010

Julian KC

My friend Laurie and I went to Julian for dinner last Sunday.  I'd heard great things about this place from one of my classmates, Thuan, who actually works there. We were a taken aback and frustrated when we first arrived. Both of us had looked over their menu beforehand and pretty much knew what our menu selections would be. However, on Sundays they do things a little differently.

On Sundays the Chefs at Julian prepare a 4 course themed tasting menu. The cost is significantly more than what I was planning to spend, but Laurie and I both threw care to the wind and decided to stay and enjoy the menu. The theme... pork.  At this very point in time, I was thankful that it wasn't shellfish or something because I would have had to leave.

For starters, we were served a lovely heirloom pork, beet, and greens salad. The beets were purchased that morning from the farmers market down the road. They were amazing! The pork was heavenly!

The second course was braised pork belly with an agave glaze, roasted red pepper coulis, and jalepeno cornbread.  I have to say, my grandma would have been proud of that cornbread. It was delish.
No, it wasn't gluten free... this was one of those days where I'm very thankful that I can tolerate it in small amounts.


For our third course - braised pork cheeks, yucca nocchi, and braised chard.
I could not begin to fathom how they'd work the theme into the dessert... but, they did. Bacon brittle on top of a bacon bread pudding. The bacon brittle is something I'm going to attempt to make myself. I think my husband and his coworkers would flip for it!!
So, would I go back to Julian?  You betcha!!  I look forward to visiting on another Sunday, in the future!!  Their chefs are very skilled at what they do. Their passion for the ingredients was evident in every bite in every course. 

Monday, June 14, 2010

My First Meal

I grew up in a very small town in Western, NY. I lived a very short distance from my grandparents, I was very lucky. My grandma was a Chef in a small hotel and she loved to be in the kitchen. Her cooking was phenomenal.

She brought me into the kitchen at a very young age. I can't remember exactly how young I was, but I was little. One of my favorite meals, whether breakfast, lunch, or dinner was French toast. To this day, I love it!!

I have so many wonderful memories of my grandparents. I remember going to "the farm" with my grandpa, on Fridays after work, to buy glass bottled milk. He'd always buy me an ice cream treat and say, "Don't tell Nanny."  If a stop at the farm wasn't in order, we'd stop at the small store near their home for whatever necessities Nanny had put on the list. Pop would buy me a can of Dr. Pepper and some Suzi Q's. Oh, how I loved those things.

One weekend my grandma decided that I could help her, rather than just watch. She asked me what I wanted for dinner... naturally, I wanted French toast. She walked to the fridge, pulled the eggs and set them on the counter. I remember her turning around and saying, "Well, you'll need this too" as she pulled my step stool/chair up to the counter. She handed me a whisk and an egg. My first couple eggs were a bust.... the bowl was full of shells. My Nan didn't complain, she simply fished the shells out, handed me another egg, and said, "try again."

I wish I had my grandma's patience. I become very impatient with my own children in the kitchen. I'm getting better, but it's a work in progress. I think it's because when Nan & I were cooking, it was just the two of us. When I'm cooking, I have three little ones under my feet. The oldest of my three could care less, in most cases... but every now and then he really wants to help. The other two simply get in my way when they try to help. Most of the time, I'm simply in a hurry because we've got to get to dance, or football practice, a doctor appointment, open house.... whatever.  Though, now it's summer.... I can take the time to stop and teach the kids to smell the roses.... or, properly crack and scramble an egg, or whatever.

Once I had those eggs in the bowl, I started to whisk away. I remember my Nanny adding a touch of vanilla extract to my eggs and thinking that was really weird. I remember she poured in a splash of orange juice as well. I was learning her secrets. She wasn't telling me that they were secrets, but they were because no one knew what made her french toast SOOO special.

It was a meal I'll never forgot. My Pop was SO proud of me. He said it was the best meal he'd ever eaten. (He said that ever time I cooked!)  I also made the best cookies, the best cupcakes... everything I made was perfection. Oh my goodness.... I miss my grandparents something awful.

My grandma inspired my love of cooking. My daughter inspired me to make a career out of it. When she was diagnosed with Celiac, 4 years ago, I had to learn to cook (and to love to cook) all over again.  I have yet to teach her how to make french toast because she's always reacted to eggs, until recently. A few weeks ago she had a small bite of a scrambled egg. Two weeks ago, she ate an entire egg.  Soon, perhaps... I'll be able to take her into MY kitchen, with some wonderful gluten free bread, a bunch of eggs, some vanilla, and orange juice....and teach her my grandmas secrets.  =)

Many thanks to Shauna - the Gluten Free Girl - for inspiring me to write this blog post. =)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Macaroni & Cheese, the Gluten Free Vegan Way!

I did it! I did it!
I successfully made an uber tasty gluten free vegan macaroni & cheese. I'm so happy with the way this turned out. My 8 year old daughter, who is Celiac and allergic to dairy, said, "OH mommy, this is great!" That's testimony enough for me!  Here's the recipe:

Beanie's Mac & VCheese
  • 3 cups Tinkyada Rice Pasta Shells (dry) 
VCheese Sauce
Prepare the pasta according to package directions, drain, and set aside.
In a heavy saucepan heat rice milk and butter, with salt & pepper together. After butter has melted add the cheddar shreds and whisk well.

Pour prepared pasta into saucepan with cheese sauce, mix well.... and enjoy!!

I know this seems like a super easy thing, but until I was introduced to the Daiya Vegan cheese, my daughter would not eat *anything* like this. All the other cheeses have tasted too much like plastic, haven't melted well, turned to rubber after melting, etc. This one WORKS folks.... it really does!!!

My little Bean is ONE happy camper right now!!

Chefs Association Meeting

Last night I had the privilege of attending my first meeting of the American Culinary Federation-Kansas City Chefs Association. It was an Iron-Chef themed meeting where 5 area chefs prepared dinners from a mystery market basket and we were able to vote on our favorite.  I knew three of the 5 competing chefs - one of them is one of my instructors. Chef Jerry Marcellus is one of my favorite instructors and his offering of braised beef with an orange glaze was so incredibly yummy, he had my vote at first bite!  Others competing were Chef Matt Chatfield from the Culinary Center and Chef Peter (who's last name escapes me) who had been a guest chef in my American Regional class.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the host for the evening, Chef Russ Muhlburger, asked for Chefs to volunteer to compete next year. Yvette and I inquired about the possibility of a student team and he seemed genuinely interested. He also made mention of the fact that he'd been considering throwing together a fund-raising competition for a worthy charity. I tossed Jennifer Smith's name out there (Jennifer is from Autism Speaks) and I was quickly reminded just how many connections she and and I have as Chef Russ smiled and said, "Of course, I know Jennifer." I told him our idea of the culinary competition as a fund-raising mechanism and he was really quite jazzed about the idea.  So, we now have Chef Russ as well as Chef Renee Kelly on board! 

Back to the meeting... it was announced that ACFKC night at the Royals would be June 28th. I'm buying tickets so that the kids can experience a "tailgate" with some of the top culinary names in Kansas City. This is incredibly exciting to me... I don't think they get it. =)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Flooding

My friend Kathy wanted to learn a new way to decorate cookies. So, I thought it would be fun to teach her how to flood them. This is a really fun way of creating dazzling cookies that look like a million bucks.  First... you start with naked sugar cookies.

Then you make royal icing. This recipe is really easy. It's not, however, the recipe I use when making cookies for my own children. My youngest son is severely allergic to eggs. This recipe uses them.
Chose your shades and color your icing...
this is the really fun part!

Line up your squeezy bottles... ready, get set, decorate!

Here's Kaitlyn... hard at work, but obviously having a lot of fun on the job!

Our completed cookies!  

Royal Icing:
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 lb icing sugar sifted 
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
Combine egg whites and lemon juice in the bowl of your stand mixer. Add a couple tablespoons of the sifted confectioners sugar, then start mixing away.

Once stiff peaks begin to form, start adding sugar a couple tablespoons at a time.  This will produce an incredibly stiff royal icing.  In order to make it runny so you can use it to flood and fill, add water - a drop at a time, until you achieve a runny consistency.

EGGLESS Recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 teaspoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • assorted food coloring

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, stir together confectioners' sugar and milk until smooth. Beat in corn syrup and almond extract until icing is smooth and glossy. If icing is too thick, add more corn syrup.
  2. Divide into separate bowls, and add food colorings to each to desired intensity. Dip cookies, or paint them with a brush.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Shoes, Revisited

In a post I made two years ago, about shoes, I made a comment about Klogs kitchen shoes being the most comfortable things ever, well... besides Crocs. Yea, don't hate.  Anyhow, I simply can't believe I ever wrote that. Since I surprised myself by finding that, I just had to correct it.

The most comfortable shoes on the planet are not Klogs, by any stretch. Don't get me wrong... they work. But, if you are going to be working in a professional kitchen, up on your feet alllll day long, the best thing you can possibly buy, for the money, is Dansko Professionals.
I can wear these things sun up till sun down, on cement floors, with no ill effects. To tell the truth, I have a problem with the arch in my left foot and I highly prefer to be barefoot. However, I can seriously keep these things on, comfortably, while working long hours in the kitchen - and that is going to come in handy over the next year while I'm working in the bake shop on campus. I'll be baking from 7AM till 2PM on Thursdays and then again from 10-3 on Fridays, then working in the bake shop on Friday evenings. I really can NOT wait.

I have to add, also... knowing just how demanding the Pastry Arts program is, and knowing how HARD the students work is motivating me to really buckle down to get in shape this spring/summer. I'm afraid if I don't... I'm going to kill myself in the classroom.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The practical is over... phew!

So, I did well. I got a 95% on my practical. I'm not really all that happy with it but the reasoning behind it is a long story. My dish was, for all intents and purposes, flawless.  My Chef, however, said that the vinaigrette on my salad was too light. I really don't like heavy dressings for salads so to me... it was quite perfect. So, anyhow... this is my actual finished plate. I took the photo about 2 minutes before Chef T stabbed into it with a fork. My coulis was incredibly tasty and I was quite impressed with it. My practice attempt wasn't as good.

My balsamic reduction wasn't as fluid as I would have liked it, so the design was a bit flawed. All in all, however, the taste was spot on - exactly what I was going for.

My french toast was made with gluten free bread from Udi's Bakery in Denver. =)

Only one more week till I get to say, "See ya!" to American Regional.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

American Regional Cuisine Practical Exam

So, my practical in my American Regional class is Monday. This exam is way different from my other practicals for other culinary classes. Thus far, the practical exams have consisted of every student making one dish... the same dish. One semester is was sauteed chicken, roasted root vegetables, and cream of whatever-they-had-left-in-the-pantry soup. For my second professional cooking class it was Arroz con pollo. We were told what to make but were responsible for finding and converting recipes (small scale, 1 serving) and making it.

This semester we were given a list of ingredients and told to "create" a vegetarian entree from said ingredients.

Ugh!

The assignment was given on Monday,  5/3. I've been going absolutely crazy trying to think of something that would be quite out of the box. I finally succeeded and created something I'm really quite proud of.  Without further ado...


~ Menu ~
Napoleons of Pain Perdu
layered with a Red Lentil & Parmesan Puree
in a roasted tomato coulis.
Baby Greens with a Rosemary infused Vinaigrette

I did a practice run this evening and I wasn't happy with the way I'd decided to plate it. So, it's back to the drawing board on that subject. The taste, however, was quite delicious!!  I surprised myself.  There are still a couple tiny changes I will make, but all in all.... I'm happy!! I can't wait to get in the kitchen to get cooking.  I'm really hopeful Chef T will like it!

PS - I WILL be using gluten free bread for my pain perdu. =)

It's Teacher Appreciation Week!

So, what's a girl to do?  Bake, I say... bake!  These are the macarones I made for the teachers at my kids' elementary school.  The pink is getting a bit redundant, I know. They were supposed to be green and yellow, for their school colors. However, I made way too much pink buttercream with the last batch and vegan butter is really expensive so I thought it best to not let it go to waste.

I really love the way these turned out. Their little "feet" are perfect!! 


Saturday, May 1, 2010

More Macarones!

I can't say this enough, I just adore these fussy little French confections!!  These ones are orange flavored with an orange buttercream. I've just discovered these wonderful baker's emulsions from LorAnn Oils and they are amazing!  The flavor does not bake out in the heat of the oven as does the flavor from so many other extracts.

These were the macarones I made for the Great American Bake Sale.


Friday, April 30, 2010

Great American Bake Sale

I am honored to be participating in the Share Our Strength's Great American Bake Sale this year.  This event is in conjunction with Overland Park's first annual "Smokefest." It's going to be the BBQ lovers dream come true. It runs from 8:30-2 in downtown OP and will feature education on grilling and smoking, a culinary competition among chefs, a make your own "rub" station, and more. It promises to be a fun day for the whole family.

When you are ready for something a little sweeter, stop by the bake sale for dessert or a treat to bring home. My gluten free treats for the sale will be French Macarones - oh how I adore those fussy little pastries!

In 2009, Great American Bake Sales held across the nation raised more than $1,220,000 to fund after school and summer feeding programs for children, and support Share Our Strength’s Operation Frontline®, a chef-led nutrition education program for low-income children and families. 

Here are some very good reasons for you to grab a treat at the bake sale:
  • 12.6 million…American children wonder if they will eat in the morning
  • 13%…of American families with children under six years old face hunger
  • 50%…of American food stamp recipients are children
  • 60%…of requests for emergency food assistance come from American families with children
  • 89%…of low-income American children who receive school lunches do not receive regular meals during the summer
  • One…summer of poor nutrition will seriously impair a child’s ability to learn
  • 1 in 3…Americans who stand in a soup kitchen line are children1 in 5…American households with children live at risk of hunger
  • 1 in 10…American households lack access to enough food

As a chef, I feel it's part of my duty to help educate people on this issue. As a mother, I feel the need to do my part to see to it that all mother's are able to feed their babies.

If you are in the area, please stop by the bake sale!

****** Update!! *******
The first Great American Bake Sale was a huge success!!  We were hoping to raise $200 - $250.00 or so, we raised $600.00!!!!!  Thank you to everyone who stopped by!!!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tears of Joy

Seriously folks, chicken pot pie is one of my all-time favorite foods. Ever. I never thought I'd eat it again after learning I was gluten intolerant. I assumed I'd never be able to feed the deliciousness that is ♫ chicken pot, chicken pot, chicken pot pieeeeeeeeee ♫ to my children. Until now.

Shauna Ahern has done it again.

Gluten Free Girl - Rough Puff Pastry

Thank you from the very bottom of my stomach and the tips of my taste buds.  ♥

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

First Communion

My daughter, Bean, made her first communion this past weekend. It was an incredibly wonderful ceremony and celebration. As I've mentioned about a hundred times, Bean has Celiac disease. She can not receive "normal" wheat laden communion wafers, so we contacted the Benedictine Sisters to have them create her "low gluten" hosts.  Her host was placed on a special paten, away from all the other hosts, and she was the very first one to receive that day. I'm such a proud mama.

Of course, being the baker that I am... I had to bake her gluten free/vegan cupcakes for her celebration. They turned out really delicious!  I used yet another recipe from the Flying Apron baking book. I altered it a bit, subbing tapioca flour for the bean flour, but they were delicious all the same.  I also made chalice&host sugar cookies for her entire class of 44.

Sugar Cookies with an orange royal icing - I used the Everclear to help color the royal icing with luster dust. Yea... I wasn't drinkin' on the job! =)

Here are her yummy cupcakes!

Her completed cupcake tower - I made the tower myself as well!
Thanks to Cake Journal  for the instructions!

And, here's my lovely little Bean!
Congratulations Sweetheart!!!

Monday, April 19, 2010

École de Pâtisserie

Well, the long and short version.... I was accepted!!!

I start pastry school in the fall. In one year, I will be adding the initials CPC to my name!!   I'll discuss more a little later. For now... I must go to American Regional and attempt to pass a Chef Turner exam. Word of the day: Ugh.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Interview Complete

I arrived for my interview right on time. I'd decided to dress up a bit rather than wear my Chef whites and I'm very glad I did. The other candidates that I saw were all wearing "normal" clothes. I would have felt like an idiot walking in wearing whites.

I usually do very well in interviews. I've been hired following every one I've had thus far in my life. I've always walked away with confidence knowing that I impressed the decision makers.  That's not the case today. You see, my oldest son is in the hospital. My mind was with him, my thoughts and feelings were locked up around ways to help him get better. I stumbled over my words. Some of my responses, upon second thought, didn't really make much sense. I was asked a lot of business related questions to which I really don't have any answers.  I talked my way though it...but was it enough? I have no idea.

The really weird thing was that I know two of the three interviewers pretty well. One was my Confectionery Arts (Chef) instructor. The other, the Dean of Hospitality. The third person was the Dean of Business. Since Pastry School falls in the middle of hospitality and business, it only makes sense that she was there. She wasn't the one who made me nervous.... neither was Chef. The one who made me feel nervous and self conscious was the one person I know I can turn to when I'm having difficulty or struggling. Maybe it's because she knows how much I struggled as a full time student last semester. Maybe that will weigh on her decision as to whether or not I'm admitted to the program.

This really is all I want. Pastry School. It's right in front of me.... but I'm not really sure I can reach it. *sigh*

Thursday, April 8, 2010

May is Celiac Awareness Month

I thought I'd take a moment to reflect on this issue since I'm loading up my blog with posts about my attempts to get into pastry school.

There is only one cure for Celiac Disease - a lifelong avoidance of gluten. Period. That's it. There's no magic pill, there's no surgery, there's no special exercise, and there are no doctors who can take away the problem.  While I am intolerant of gluten, I do not have Celiac Disease. My daughter, however, does.

My dream is to learn, in pastry school, from the best. I will learn how to make high-end pastry, breads, and goodies in the classroom setting, working with CIA trained Chefs. I will come home and work, tirelessly, to create those same items sans gluten. In many cases, I will be working to create those same items vegan! In addition to Celiac in our home, we also have a 4 year old son who has a life-threatening allergy to eggs and dairy. Vegan & Gluten Free are the only way for us.

So, yes... I will be creating lovely goodies that I can't enjoy. But, it's alright!!  I will learn how to create these delectables for others like myself and my children, so that they too may enjoy the yumminess that comes from the kitchen of a pastry chef.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Interview!!!

I have now been in culinary school for 3 full semesters, this is my 4th. I've tried, unsuccessfully, for two years (08&09) to gain admission into the Pastry Program. This year, admission is selective and I'm extremely happy about that.  Prior to this year it's been a "first come first serve" program so admission was granted to whomever had the fastest computer on registration day.

Now there is a selection process that consists of an application, essay, review of transcripts, etc.  The top 30 applicants will be interviewed with the program, the top 15 will be admitted for Fall 2010.

I have an interview on Tuesday, April 13th!!!!
Dear Readers, Cross your fingers for me, please!!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

MmmmmmMmM. Cup.... Cakes!

Maple Cupcakes with German Maple Icing. Yum!

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Buttercream.
Heaven!

I would love to share the recipes for these super delish cupcakes, but I can't. They are from the new baking book by Jennifer Katzinger of the Flying Apron Bakery in Seattle. You can, however, have a copy for yourself! The recipes, I assure you, are worth it!!!

Flying Apron's Gluten-free & Vegan Baking Book

Friday, March 12, 2010

Green Smoothie Challenge

I, like most people in the US, do not incorporate enough greens into my diet. I actually am a big fan, I just find it a pain in the butt to chomp on lettuce. Romaine, chard, arugula,  you name it... I probably like it. I just don't eat it very often.

Last night my daughter's ballet teacher, the lovely Mrs. Julie, told me about the breakfast that she'd had. It consisted of an apple, a banana, some spinach, blueberries, and milk. I was intrigued. I'd heard of "green" smoothies before but never really gave them much thought. I looked them up online and found whole communities dedicated to the health benefits of the green elixer. I also found a challenge, and really.... I've never been able to resist a really good challenge.

So, as I type I'm slowly sipping on my first Green Smoothie made of an apple, a banana, a few broccoli flowerettes, a handful of romaine lettuce, 4 frozen strawberries, and a splash of rice milk.  It's green, yea... not real pretty and it smells like lawn clippings, but it tastes wonderful!!!  I'm really looking forward to this!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Trying a new, very unusual recipe!

I found a recipe for gluten free hamburger rolls and I thought I'd give it a try. It's quite unconventional and uses only 3 ingredients - eggs, cream cheese, and cream of tarter. I added a bit of rosemary - so we'll see how that turns out. I had to make this post to mention the eggs I used. I've eaten chicken from the Campo Lindo farms, in Lathrop, Mo, before. Until today I'd not purchased their eggs as they are quite a bit more expensive than other eggs.  Today, I'm so glad I bought them!

For whipping egg whites it's best to start with room temperature whites. This is different from whipping cream, where the cream, bowl, and whisk should be as COLD as possible. Anyhow...separate the eggs when cold, whip when room temp. The egg whites from the Campo Lindo chickens were quite beautiful. They whipped up unlike any other egg whites I've ever used. They are definitely worth the extra cost when it comes from a baking standpoint!!! =)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

My Son - The Scholar

Please allow me to step away from my normal "food blogging" for a moment. I would like to introduce you to my son, Josh. This past weekend, my son was honored at a 12 state, region wide banquet celebrating Pop Warner football players who excel in academics. This is an incredible honor. Josh's grades and service to the community qualified him for this honor. He works hard, he maintains a straight A average in school, and he helps out in the community, at church, and at his school.

We are very proud of him!! Congratulations buddy!!!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Making Macarons


I think I'm obsessed with this sweet little confection. Taken from Wikipedia:
A macaron or French macaroon is a confectionery whose name is derived from an Italian word “maccarone” meaning paste.[1] It is meringue-based: made from a mixture of egg whites, almond flour, and both granulated and confectionery sugar.
The confectionery is characterized by its smooth, domed top, ruffled circumference, and flat base. Connoisseurs prize a delicate, egg shell-like crust that yields to a moist and airy interior. The French macaroon differs from other macaroons in that it is filled with cream or butter like a sandwich cookie, and can be found in a wider variety of flavors that range from the traditional (raspberry, chocolate) to the exotic (foie gras, truffle). Making macarons requires a great deal of discipline and is a process that is highly dependent on exactitude, technique, and proper equipment. For this reason it is a notoriously difficult recipe to master and a frustrating endeavor for the amateur baker.[2]
Try me. =)

So, my second attempt was much more successful than my first.


The eggs whites have to be just perfect... aged for 24 or more hours, first foamy... then stiff peaks with the added sugar. 

 
The ground blanched almonds must be run through a fine seize to ensure that there are no lumps or bumps. The powdered sugar must be sifted several times. 


The batter is then piped onto a silpat or parchment lined baking sheet and left to rest for 1-2 hours to allow for the dome formation on the top of the cookie. 
 
Here they are, fresh from the oven - their little "feet" formed pretty well. But, I'm still not happy with their height. It is a work in progress, and these are a million times better than my first attemp!
 
Here's a better view of their little domed top and the little feet underneath. 


And finally, a view of the final product after being filled with Nutella ganache. My ganache didn't sit as well as I would have liked, so... it's on to a third try!!!

I'm having fun researching these little lovelies.