Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Friday, May 27, 2011
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Preheat oven to 350
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 tablespoon ancho chili powder or 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (I think I used a tablespoon of chipotle...hence the kick)
2 teaspoons finely ground espresso or french roast coffee
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup buttermilk (I used a substitution with skim milk and lemon juice)
1 tablespoon instant coffee granules
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (jumbo, since that was what was on hand)
Sift together dry ingredients in a small bowl (flour through salt). In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, egg and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl (or liquid measuring cup) stir together buttermilk and instant coffee. Alternately whisk flour mix and buttermilk mix into the sugar mixture. Start and end with dry ingredients. Scoop batter into prepared muffing cups. Bake for 22 to 27 minutes or until tops of cupcakes spring back when lightly touched. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting.
*For the mini cupcakes, the baking time was more like 7-10 minutes.
I used a couple different fillings in these cupcakes, just for fun. The key? Cook the cupcakes first. When cool, poke a hole in the cupcake using your finger (or a wooden spoon handle) and then fill. The frosting you use on top will hide any evidence...
Filling #1 Trader Joe's Mango Butter (there are no Trader Joe's in Denver, but I bought some in Illinois)
Filling #2 Tart Cherry Preserves
It's not very often that I use frosting, much less make it myself. But here you go:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened dutch process cocoa powder, sifted
1/2 cup butter at room temperature
1 tablespoon strong brewed coffee
pinch of salt
Put it all in the food processor and run until smooth. I put it in a pastry bag with a tip (I couldn't tell you what the technical name of the tip, but it looked good on the cupcakes) and swirled a little on each cupcake. This is rich frosting, so a little goes a long way. I used red sugar sprinkles for the cupcakes with cherry filling and orange sugar sprinkles for the cupcakes with the mango filling.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
I found this recipe when I was going through my back issues of Cooking Light and determining which recipes to cut out and which to recycle. I've never made this before, but am glad it made it to the save pile. The only modifications I made to the original recipe (here) were to use 1lb each of the ground pork and ground turkey (ground turkey was 93% lean) so I didn't have random 1/4lbs of raw meat hanging around. I also used my little George Foreman grill inside since it was cold and rainy outside (today is May 15, I have friends snowboarding up at A-basin because they are still getting dumped on...crazy Colorado). Whole wheat bun, a lime for garnish, a clementine on the side and we were good to go!
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup finely chopped unsalted dry-roasted peanuts (used spicy peanuts from Sprouts bulk section)
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce (a staple in my house ever since visiting Thailand in 2009)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
3 garlic cloves crushed (used the minced in a jar kind)
3/4 lb ground pork (used 1 pound)
3/4 lb ground turkey (used 1 pound)
Cooking spray (if you are using a traditional grill)
Prepare grill. Combine all ingredients divide mixture into 6 equal portions (I ended up making about 9 because I had the extra meat), shaping each into a 1/2 inch patty. On an outdoor grill, grill 7 minutes on each side or until a thermometer registers 165. On my little indoor grill it was just 3-4 minutes on each side.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
According to dictionary.com an alumni/alumnus is:
1. a graduate or former student of a specific school, college, or university.
2. a former associate, employee, member, or the like: He invited all the alumni of the library staff to the party.
No one goes around rocking a t-shirt that says Franklin Middle School Alumni (a shout out to my Wisconsin middle school alma mater) and frankly I'm not impressed with someone who uses their high school career as their claim to fame, unless they are only a freshmen in college. Definition number 2 supports the NFL sticker. I'm assuming only former "associates" of the NFL can get that sticker and that it's not readily available on NFL.com. Where I work we do not call former employees alumni. Maybe they do go around in secret repeating our company's mission statement as their code. Maybe not.
After more than 10 years in the hospitality business, I have run across my share of VIPs. In general, if you are in fact a VIP we know in advance who you are, where you're from, and why you have the status. If you have to announce to someone "I'm a VIP," you're not. Sorry to burst your bubble. Just saying "I'm important and I deserve a suite or a bottle of wine or a newspaper does not make it so. You might be a VIP because you a frequent customer. The person ahead of you in line or with the more expensive bottle of wine might simply be someone's family member.
At one of my previous properties the oatmeal on the breakfast menu was named after a frequent guest of the hotel. An unusual way to recognize a VIP to be sure, but you can bet that every time he stayed with us and saw that on the menu, he smiled. This is in sharp contrast the guest who told me 1) he knew some of the owners 2) he is the reason why we served corned beef hash with hollandaise sauce. I'm not sure who he thought he was impressing with that statement. Not me.
Work hard. Be nice. Tip well. Say Thank you. That's what we remember. That's what increases your odds of being a VIP. Take the NFL alumni sticker off your car. If you're a genuine person who smiles at kids, pets puppies, and stops for squirrels, I'll respect you just the same.
Monday, May 9, 2011
Friday, May 6, 2011
My level of sarcasm at least triples the minute I walk into the gym where my sister and work out with our trainer. You ask yourself constantly "Why I am I paying someone to kick my ass?" Probably because with free will you would never voluntarily run the stairs or push a weight bench across the gym. I would spend most of my time thinking a brisk walk with the dog constituted fitness. So, as much as I complain I have for the most part been commited to regular exercise since last October. My real struggle is the second part of healthy living: streamlining the diet. Hence begins a list of advice and motivation our trainer passes on to us.
This week it was this gem: Next time you go to the vet you better have them take a look at that pair of sick pythons! (Sweet....I finally have arm muscles)
Other classics that could be made into t-shirts:
Serious Calorie Burn
Chiseling the V
Ice cream - where fitness goals go to die
3 minutes or until fatigue...whichever comes first
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Travel is one of my passions and I try to share it with others. Some people are intrigued by the thought of exotic destinations but don't actually want to go themselves. Some people want to visit the "safe" places, whether they are English speaking destinations (Australia and Great Britain) or the famous sites in Western Europe. Some people want to see where their ancestors came from, climb mountains, or visit friends. I know what I like to do, but I try to encourage anyone to leave the US, for any reason...other than running away from the law (although that makes a great story). I'm in a little bit of shock right now because after my next trip this summer, I don't have another vacation in the works. I have a feeling that will change as I will have enough Delta miles soon to justify a "free" trip. Decisions. Decisions.
The forward is written by Phil Keoghan, host of The Amazing Race (read about my Amazing Race Moment here). The Amazing Race is about everything travel...beautiful places, crazy traffic, strange food, and the people. He says, "I've found that having a passport ultimately isn't so much about the places that it allows you to go as the people who want to share their world with you." I read somewhere in another book that there is a difference between being a tourist and a traveler, and part of that is whether you just see places or you immerse yourself in them. It's the difference between taking a picture of a famous church in rural Peru or going in and attending mass. It's the difference between chasing a guinea fowl in silence or yelling at it in Swahili (which you learned from a local).
This book is a quick read and makes you want to pack your bags and go. If you are looking for justification and "I just want to go" is not enough, the authors provide 52 reasons for you. I've pared them down to the ten that resonate with me. And my wanderlust. And my newly renewed passport that needs more stamps so I have more stories. Now I just want someone, in Where the hell is Matt? style, to fund my travels for me.
Traveler's Top 10
#1 It's who you are
#3 Exercise your rights
#4 Be an ambassador
#20 Meet the neighbors
#22 Feel the thrill of the unfamiliar
#24 Learn the lingo
#29 All the wonders of the world
#38 Taste is everything
#46 We're different, but the same
#48 Write your own life story
One of my reasons to have a passport?
To play games in foreign countries :)
What's your reason?