Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween Pumpkin Spice Cake

So the theme of recent posts is apparently being hungover and making bad decisions? Last Sunday, after a night out with rowers, I woke up and thought I needed to bake a cake. My brother and his friend had stayed with me Saturday night so while we were all waking up and drinking our coffee I reasoned that I needed to bake a cake because Halloween was Monday and I could bring the cake to my parents' house during trick or treating. Uhm, nope, Halloween is tomorrow and last week I was out of town for two days for work. Whoops.

I made half a dozen cupcakes and two layers of cake and sent the cupcakes back on the road with Alex and his friend. The recipe was a pumpkin spice cake that i came across on Bon Appetit's site. It has a lot of spices and orange rind for flavoring. I halved the oil and replaced the rest with applesauce to make it "slightly healthier". Once the cakes were cool, I wrapped them and stuck them in the freezer.

Friday night I took the cakes out to defrost, and Saturday got down with the powdered sugar and made a cream cheese frosting. It's orange so I could decorate the cake like a jack o lantern (I got chocolate jimmies to decorate with). I got out a piping bag and tips to decorate, but I guess I haven't done this in a while, because for some reason I put the tip outside instead of inside the bag to pipe, yeah oops. Minus all of the disasters here, the cake turned out awesome. Really moist and flavorful, good texture, and the creamcheese frosting, with a little rum for flavoring was a great complement.

We had a Halloween party and people came out despite the snow to drink and eat cake. My favorite costume modification was when Joanna was turned into a tipsy cupcake. My hpv vaccine/zombie Michelle Bachman plan was scrapped because I was a little under the weather and didn't feel like putting on zombie makeup, so that kind of sucked (I still managed to stay up till 3 though?).

Island Creek Oyster Bar with the Boston Brunchers

I usually blog about food that I make, so reviewing meals is new to me. Here goes.....

I've been pretty active on twitter since moving back to Boston (this also coincides with getting a smartphone) and am following Renee and some of the other Boston Brunchers. When I saw that (1) the anniversary brunch was at Island Creek Oyster Bar (and I follow them on twitter too...) and that (2) Renee was giving away some tickets to non-brunchers I was psyched. Definitely a challenge to myself to win one - and I did, from Sue at Public Radio Kitchen, who I ended up sitting with during brunch in fact (but I was a little hungover and it took us a while to put this together).

We had gone to Somerville Local First's Harvestfest the night before, so I was desperately in need of some coffee when we showed up. Fun fact: Island Creek brews coffee from Jim's Organic Coffee. I met their New England sales rep the following weekend at Head of the Charles, and Mike was awesome enough to give me a bag of coffee to try. They are a local, green company so it's cool to see restaurants using quality local products!

It was great to eat with other local bloggers too (Eating Places, The Economical Eater, Doves and Figs, The Passionate Foodie, and Baking Me Hungry).

First up, we ordered drinks. I went for the bloody mary, sort of a hair of the dog thing. It was definitely good and with the spiciness helped bring me out of my fog.

We also had an amazing pastry basket in front of us. I could have eaten them all, but went for the sticky bun. It was not too sweet which was wonderful, and had good texture, not like a sticky ball of dough at all.

There were 4 choices for brunch, but our table went with either the lobster roll or the french toast with sautéed apples. I went with the lobster roll to get the savory after the pastry basket, but the French toast looked and smelled amazing.

The lobster roll was awesome. It's always a good problem when you can't determine the best way to eat something. I did the slice in half and eat with hands. The rosemary bun on this lobster roll is not to be missed.

The other fantastic part of brunch was our ridiculous goodie bags from the brunch sponsors (below). Renee did a fabulous job getting sponsors, and my mom and husband were super impressed with what I brought home.

America's Test Kitchen
Barefoot Wine
Biltmore Bar and Grill
Boston Ballet
Boston Center for Adult Education
Boston Food Finds
Cow and Crumb
Cumberland Farms
Dorado Tacos & Cemitas
Dore Creperie
Doves and Figs Kitchen
Eversave Boston
Foodies of New England
The Four Seasons Boston
Harvard Common Press
KO Catering & Pies
Langham Hotel Boston
Phillips Candy House
Pretzel Crisps
Stages of Beauty
USA Pears

Brunch was gratis, but my opinions are my own.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Almost one bowl brownies

I'm running a 10k tomorrow (and pretty happy I *didn't* run the BAA half with this hot weather) and after a morning of cleaning and a fun afternoon with the man - we watched the Pats game in 3 different bars, in 2 different cities - and a surprisingly yummy dinner at Foundry, it's time for some sweets.

First, can I tell you about dinner? We shared a flatbread and then the Parisian Gnocchi at Foundry. I didn't snap a photo, but here's the description: sauteed pate a choux dumplings, butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, brown sugar-roasted acorn squash. This was served in half of a roasted acorn squash. Yumyum.

Now, brownies! I don't even know why I decided I should make brownies, but the recipe I have is a pretty simple, quick recipe that leaves you with a pan of gooey fudgy brownies in minutes.

Well, almost minutes. There is some butter melting, measuring, stirring, egg cracking. But everything mixes in a pot on the stove, and often I don't even use a second bowl for anything.
The bowl in the picture however I sifted my cocoa powder into and then tossed all of the dirty utensils in.

And, kids - this is why you need to pay attention in math class:

I halved the recipe since I knew we wouldn't (shouldn't?) have a whole pan of brownies on hand. I used the same pan dimensions though, and knew that the brownies would be very thin - so I cut the baking time to only 15 minutes.

Brownies don't photograph well, but trust me, they were delicious.

Other stuff that happened this week:
I doctored some TJ's coffee cake mix into muffins, made with applesauce. OK, these don't look pretty either, but they made a nice breakfast treat.

I made the NYT Recipes for Health chocolate pecan bars.

These, I don't recommend. I'm sorry, but it was a disaster - the egg/honey mixture on top ended up soaking into the crust and making an almost frittata-like texture of the recipe.

I was rowing (for the first time since surgery in 2008).