Monday, August 9, 2010

The Sword In the Squash

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AT THE TOP of my list for yummiest vegetables is the Kabocha squash, also known as Ebisu, Hoka, Hokkaido, or most generically, Japanese Pumpkin. It is sweet and creamy and flavorful, although cutting the thing can be an experience much like Excalibur. If you're like me, peeling and cutting with a dull knife on an empty stomach can really diminish your will to live. The results are worth the suffering, but if you know some special tricks, you can avoid the suffering altogether.

1. You can eat the peel, but it takes much longer to prepare, so I prefer to remove it. Instead of peeling the squash with a parer like I have done in the past, I first cut the squash in half.

2. I would recommend using a serrated steak knife to cut the squash in half. Then place a half on a plate and nuke it in the microwave for 5 minutes or so, and do the same with the other half. Beware: the pieces are extremely hot after being microwaved (clearly I have a Ph.D. in Thermodynamics) so handle with caution.

3. Scoop out cubes of squash after you have allowed them to cool off. Then you can freeze them or use them in any recipe you would like (e.g. croquettes, curried veggies, soup), all equally tasty.

Savory Success!

I try to eat healthier savory foods so I can enjoy more sinful sweets. ;) If you're jonesing for a richer soup, add a bit of cream cheese to your squash purée.

Margaret

Dogs Are People Too

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O F ALL THE ANIMALS in the world, I think dogs have to be my favorite.  That's why three years ago, when my then-friend now-boyfriend earnestly told me that his childhood aspiration for adulthood was simply "to be a dog," I had a hunch I would fall in love with him.


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Nick as a Native American and his friend wearing Nick's dog suit.


Pretty funny stuff. Although really, who wouldn't love to be a dog? (Unless you live in a country where people eat them.) Here in the United States at least, dogs are pampered beyond belief, with some celebrity pets getting salon and spa treatments. I've even seen one with its own iPawd. ;-) Oh life is so ruff when you're a canine.

Anyway, moving along... This weekend I made some tasty treats to pay tribute to my favorite four-legged friends. I also thought Nick would enjoy these while studying for his final exams.

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  White and brown sugar cookies.

Puppy  

Good luck to all of you studying for exams. Bye for now!
xo, Margaret

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This post was originally featured on cupcakeandcookie.typepad.com.

Congratulations, Nick!

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PLANNING the perfect party is no easy feat. Especially college graduation parties. Yes, you could opt for a keg and that'd be the end of the story, but how do you make it fun, festive, and so unforgettable that a barrel of booze won't wash away the memories? Get some ideas from the graduation party I threw for Nick.

The tablescape:

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I concocted delicious blue and yellow cocktails for Nick's school colors.

COCKTAILS

Since Nick is a vegetarian, we made these veggie wraps that were fashioned to resemble diplomas. Tough luck, carnivores!

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Perfect for summer eatin': an easy cheese, cucumber, and cracker platter, and hollowed out bell peppers stuffed with spinach and artichoke hummus.

Platter
The dessert stand was loaded with caramel grad caps and bite-sized lemon bars.

Dessert
I had so much fun making these caramel-filled grad caps. You can even eat the tassel too!

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All the balloons were popped before we had the chance to snap some photos, but they were put to good use, aka a World Cup match with balloons. ;-) Below are some hand cut letters and streamers that remained in tact:

Congrads

Congratulations, graduates!

Margaret

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This post was originally featured on cupcakeandcookie.typepad.com.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

New Beginnings

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RECENTLY I attended a party for my old coworkers April and Nelson to celebrate their new jobs! I made some scrumptious bite-sized carrot cupcakes with maple syrup cream cheese frosting (quite a mouthful indeed), and designed some cupcake toppers for a personal touch.


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Next time I make these, I may substitute half of the oil with applesauce for a healthier treat and add chopped walnuts on top. Let me know what you think would be a tasty modification!

Lots of Love,
Margaret

Friday, August 6, 2010

Spices... in the Fridge?

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GOT A KITCHEN full of spices that are just dying to be organized? Want a new take on the spice rack? Or maybe you just need a cute way to store some of your cooking goodies. It's no secret that I am obsessed with miniatures, so when I attended a housewarming party awhile back, I was immediately drawn to the hostess's idea of using a tin vintage toy refrigerator for storage purposes. 

The one pictured below was purchased off of eBay for a mere $10, but you can check out your local flea market or antique shop for toys like this. The fridge may look small, but each rack holds up to 9 spice jars. If you're mathematically challenged, that means a total of up to 27 spices!

 Mini fridge 
My spiffy vintage toy fridge.


Have your own ideas on spice storage? Do share!

xoxo,
Margaret

Cinco De Mayo

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CELEBRATE Cinco de Mayo properly, amigos! And pardon my terrible Español, por favor. ;-) I have an easy recipe for Horchata ice cream so you can get the fiesta started right. I don't have an ice cream maker here currently so I'll be sticking to the traditional drink courtesy of Taco Bell (joking), but I am making this as soon as I get my hands on an ice cream maker. 


photo credit: http://www.bojongourmet.com/


Horchata Ice Cream
Ingredients:
  • 2 1/2 cups medium or long grain rice
  • 21/2 cups water
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 can evaporated milk
  • 2 egg whites
Preparation:
  1. Rinse rice, then cover and soak for at least 2 hours.
  2. Drain rice making sure to reserve 2 cups of the liquid.
  3. Grind the rice as finely as possible in a blender. Add cinnamon, water and milk until blended.
  4. Transfer blended mixture to a saucepan and add egg whites. Turn heat on to medium low and whisk constantly until the temperature of the mixture reaches around 110ºF.
  5. Keep this in the fridge for at least 2 hours before placing in ice cream making machine.

Cheers everyone, eat up. Olé!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Welcome!

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My latest venture, Cupcake & Cookie Confections, is being launched into a full scale bakery, which is awesome! I will not be able to help with the bakery, as I am moving 300 miles away in several months, which is not so awesome. I still, however, will be baking and documenting--whether noticed or not--my trials in the kitchen, which is awesome. So, that's a net gain of awesome.

In the next few weeks I will be sprucing up the site and piggybacking posts over from another blog so they are viewable here. Thanks for reading!