Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Project 365 - June 7-13

Before I embark on my next adventure, I'd better get slightly caught up with the last one.

June 7 - The hotel celebrates Bike MS!

June 8 - Dolmas and Falafel from the Doner Kebab cart on the 16th street mall

June 9 - A custom cupcake baked by Gigi's for my sister's birthday, baked with Nerds, rolled in Pez and topped with rock candy.

June 10 - We fly into Green Bay.  Dad takes us for Blood Mary's at Lipsky's (where the cheesy hot foot long is located) followed by ice cream at Deprey's Frosty Tip.   These places are not in Green Bay, but rather in Dyckesville.
June 11 - Kenny Chesney stadium show at Lambeau Field.  Fantastic!  Uncle Kracker, Billy Currington, Zac Brown Band and then Kenny Chesney.  All I can say about the people watching is: 1) I needed a hat made out of a beer case  2) Beer and steep stadium steps don't mix
June 12 - For the first time in a long time all four Seesters were in the same place.   It was fitting that we ate at Seester's Mexican Cantina in Peawaukee, WI.  This is also where we brainstormed world domination.

Of course, world domination cannot be completed without ice cream so we headed next door to The Chocolate Factory to get waffle cones and sit in the sun.    Time passes.  Burgers are cooked on the grill.  And then we headed to Mo's for a little girl time.

June 13 - After a fun day of relaxing with some of our family, we headed to the Milwaukee airport.  Your last stop for cheesehead hats.  Or, more importantly, cheese curds.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Recipe: Sandwich Cookie Truffles

Every once in a while you hear about something and you think, "really?  that's it?"  Yesterday it was "Oreo Balls."  So I looked up a few recipes and variations and ta-da!  here it is.

The short and sweet:
1 8oz package of cream cheese (I used the low-fat kind), softened
1 16oz package of sandwich cookies (Oreos, Nutter Butters, etc)
Chocolate Chips or White Chips or Peanut Butter Chips for the coating

This is how we do it:
Put the cookies in the food processor until it's all crumbs.   Put cookie crumbs and cream cheese into a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth.   Roll into small 1 inch balls and put on a wax paper covered baking sheet.   Chill for at least an hour.

I opted for the easy route for coating the candies.  I melted my white or chocolate chips in a small bowl (use low microwave setting and stop before you think they will be melted...stir and the remainder will melt), then used 2 spoons to roll the balls in chocolate and then put them back on the wax paper covered baking sheet.  I did about 8 at a time with a small bowl of melted chocolate so that the chocolate wouldn't have time to cool.

I did three varieties, just a little of each.   1) Using the girl scout cookies "Lemon Creme Chalets" and coating them in melted white chocolate chips.  2) Oreo truffles coated in melted semi-sweet chocolate chips and a little white drizzle.  3) Oreo truffles with crushed peppermints in the mix and as a garnish. Coated in melted semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Project 365 - May 27-June 6

The good news is that I have been documenting each day with a photo.   For instance, today I held an inflatable crocodile over my head.   The quick catch up....

May 27-30 - New Mexico, I've got pictures in my posts Road Food: New Mexico and Land of Enchantment.

May 31 - Present from friend returning from London
June 1 - Dill and Fig infused vodka at Red Square prior to seeing Billy Elliot at the DCPA

June 2 - Lilacs by the gym   June 3 - Wine at the end of a long week
June 4 - Marshmallow Kabobs....Mom would be appalled at that much pure sugar
June 5 - Advertising at Good Times.  Since I've seen how crazy baboons can be it was especially funny.
June 6 - New colors in the house

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Open Road

In American culture the car has a very special place.  Turning 16 is the first big milestone birthday solely because you can get your drivers license.  Despite what you see on TV the odds of your parents giving you a car of your own is almost nil.  You will get the privilege of driving  the 'grocery getter' and dropping your younger siblings off at soccer practice.  The only time in my life that I had a brand new car was my senior year of college.  It was a cute candy apple red....Chevy Cavalier.  After I graduated it went to my sister for her last two years of school and I moved on to a...wait for it...Oldsmobile Cutlass.  Two years later I got my Blazer.  It's been a great 9 years, my Chevy and I.   In 9 years while I have become even more fun, fabulous and well-traveled, my car has just become well-traveled.  But I have no car payment.  I want to enjoy that feeling as long as possible.

This being said I've become a fan of the reduced car lifestyle.   For the past four years I've been commuting via light rail.  I can drive just a few miles, park and hop the train.  My job subsidizes my pass.  It's a pre-tax benefit.  It's saved thousands of miles on my faithful car and lots of money on gas (hello $3.65/gallon).  I can read, Facebook, blog, listen in on other people's conversations or plot world domination.  Now that the weather is nice I can even go car free by walking to the bus that takes me to the train.

I still like the freedom of my car.  I don't really want to carry 20lbs of dog food anywhere.  But more and more I see the value of the urban lifestyle where things are accessible by foot, bike or RTD.  Denver puts a high value on this.    My attitude is shifting.  It's good for my health to walk or cycle.  It's good for my budget to take public transportation.

And for the road trip?  Part of the American experience?  I will rent.  Me, my sun hat of confidence and a 2010 Caddy.  See you on the road!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Recipe: White Chocolate Macadamia Cupcakes

This was part two of my "gourmet" cupcake adventures last month.   These were the mini cupcakes I made with the leftover batter.  I am convinced that mini is the way to go.  More people are likely to indulge when it's small.

Preheat oven to 350.
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup mac nuts, coarsely chopped, toasted (use a non-stick skillet)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1/3 cup milk (skim)
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Mix together flour, nuts, baking powder and salt.   In a large bowl whisk together sugar, oil and eggs until smooth.  Alternately beat in flour mixture and eggs, with three additions of flour mix and two of milk.  Beat until just smooth.  Stir in white chocolate chips.   Scoop batter into prepared muffin cups (12 w/ liners).  Bake 22-26 minutes until golden brown.  Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes.  Remove from pan and cool completely. 

I tried two different fillings with these:  King Soopers store brand of key lime pie filling as well as Trader Joe's Mango Butter.  Both worked out great. 

I made straight up cream cheese frosting with butter.   Here you go:  4 oz cream cheese (room temp), 1/2 cup butter (room temp), pinch salt, 2 1/4 cups sifted powdered sugar.   Beat cream cheese, butter and salt until creamy.  Beat in powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time at a slow speed (or you'll end up wearing all the powdered sugar).   Increase speed and beat until fluffy.   I used a pastry bag to frost the cupcakes.

Share with as many people as possible so that you don't hoard them all in your kitchen.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Life as a Lyrical Gangster

Every once in a while I stop just blindly singing along with catchy songs on the radio and ponder the lyrics.   This is one of those times.   These four just caught my ear recently.  

Lil Wayne "I'm a hip hop socialist"  - Last year a group of us had a discussion about a t-shirt that said 'Living the R&B Lifestyle' and what exactly that lifestyle entails.   None of us in that group had ever lived anything close to it, whatever it might be.   Something else I didn't consider when looking up Lil Wayne lyrics on line is that the words that you hear on the radio edit version are almost 100% different than the original version.  An entirely different song.    A socialist, according to is a supporter of socialism.  Socialism is a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.    Using as the definitive answer to all things today, hip hop by definition is the popular subculture of big-city teenagers, which includes rap music, break dancing, and graffiti art.   So....a hip hop socialist will use graffiti art to advocate the vesting of ownership?  Hmmmm.

Bruno Mars "I'll be lying on the couch just chillin' in my snuggie, flip to MTV so they can teach me how to dougie"  -The "Lazy Song" is currently a favorite.  Partially because everyone can relate to wanting to spend a day on the couch doing nothing (and not everyone relates to being a hip hop socialist).     This line is such a statement of the times.   Five years from now I can picture someone asking their friend "What the hell is a snuggie?" And the Dougie hasn't yet become a wedding mainstay like the Electric Slide, so you might actually need someone to teach you how to Dougie. 

Fabolous "Her feet are killing her, I call it shoeicide" - I decided quite a long time ago, before Fabolous coined the term, that I would not commit shoeicide.  When I used to work in banquets, I was on my feet 10-12 hours a day.  Shoes had to be functional and comfortable.   I used to think that when I switched to a desk job that all the sudden I'd want to wear a skirt and heels every day.   That never happened.   I wear skirts to work on a very limited basis, so much so that people comment on it every time. 

Pitbull (ft Ne-yo) "Grab somebody sexy, tell 'em hey" - What else is there to say?  It's good life advice.  If you can't work up the courage to grab them, at least introduce yourself.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Land of Enchantment

Four days afterwards and I still don't feel recovered from last weekend's adventure to New Mexico.  The last time I was there was 2006, which considering it's the state right next door (to the south, if you're geographically challenged) is pretty pathetic.   Taking advantage of one of the best employee benefits, we were staying at a beautiful resort.  For free.  Deciding that my car did not need 1000 miles added to it, I rented a car.   They hooked us up.  With an eggplant colored Cadillac.  Sweet. This lead to many Thelma and Louise comparisons.  We, however, (spoiler alert) did not drive off a cliff.  We did, however, make new friends.  Leather interior, fuel economy, satellite radio, we were good to go.  We left after work on Friday, so we didn't actually get to the hotel until almost 2am.   Only my sister and I would program one of the six stations to "On Broadway."  This was balanced with 80s, 90s, country and top 20 for an endless musical rotation that included singing along with Warren G's "Regulate" followed by "One Day More" from Les Miserables.  

We had no agenda.  We knew we would hit the pool, eat ice cream and go to Santa Fe.  That was it.   We came back with a trunk of groceries from Trader Joe's, suntans, and new friends. 


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