February 28, 2014

Stuff and Things 2/28/14

Life as I Know it

I know I've been kind of missing for a while, but that's because I was too busy being an adult and BUYING A HOUSE!!!!
Double Kermit flail!!!!!!
Okay, it's a condo. And okay, it's still under attorney review, so I haven't actually bought it yet. But I've been keeping it on the DL because I was so worried it wouldn't work out and the sellers accepted my offer and AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH.

UPDATE: We are out of attorney review, like 3 days earlier than expected. Pending a home inspection, the house is mine-all-mine. *cue MOAR Kemit flail*

The only pictures I have are from the listing, and they're not mine and I can't link back to the source since that will put an address that's not currently mine but eventually will be out on the internet. So I'll give you a virtual tour once we close (which won't be for a while because one of the reasons I was an attractive buyer was because I was flexible on the closing date). But it's BIG (I mean, not like huge, but for one person-- and a cat-- with a limited budget, it's BIG). The kitchen's BIG (not the actual workspace, but plenty of space to add more), and it has a dining room which I've already decided to use as a library/study because I own a lot of books and it's not like I throw dinner parties. And I've already decided to go vintage glam in the kitchen with a DIY makeover until I have the money to get it redone (laminate countertops and the cabinets are white: livable, but so not pretty)
For now, pretend this is what it looks like
But I had to get an attorney, get mortgage pre-approval, sign about 20,000 papers, had some drama because the HOA fees and property taxes were higher than expected, so I had to get a NEW pre-approval, sign more papers, go through 48 hours of waiting and negotiating, and now I have to find a home inspector and get an actual mortgage and it's very exhausting.

What does this mean for the blog? Well, as you may have noticed, until we get everything sorted, posting may be a bit spotty. Once I move in, I might have to go on a brief sabbatical while I DIY my little heart out. And also, since this is the first time I'll be living on my own since college, I need to buy everything. I mean, I think I still have my dishes and utensils, and I own a couple muffin tins and shaped pans, but I don't have any pots or cooking utensils or cooking spices or cleaning things or power tools, so it's going to take me a while to get back up and running. 

Once I do, however, I'm hoping I'll be able to post a lot more, or at least more consistently. I won't be sharing the kitchen with anyone except Viola and Needy McSnuggles, so I won't have to fight for cooking time. And it will just be me cooking, so I'll probably have more in the way of savory recipes to post (I also really want a slow cooker so dinner will be ready for me when I get home!). I love leftovers, so don't expect me to start doing recipes for two or anything. There might be some of those, but not many.
I'm also hoping to set up a little photo studio area in my library/dining room, so there might be some better photography in the mix as well.

And also, my bestie got engaged and asked me to be her maid of honor! So I will have MOH duties to attend to. I'm not completely sure what those duties are, but I know they exist (her colors are mint and coral. I tried to convince her to go with something else, but this is what she wants. Help me.). If there are experienced MOHs out there with any advice, please let me know!

So that's my life at the moment. What's happening with you?

TV Here there be spoilers

Castle- How did Castle not immediately go to brain washing? I mean, that's the first place I went. And the "video conference" from the suspect conveniently in "Stockholm." I mean, if he was in Stockholm, and he wanted to keep up the appearance that he didn't know those people, how would he know that Beckett was coming in to question him? Especially with the time difference.

This episode kind of failed.

Supernatural- Kevvvvvvinnnnnnnnnn! *sniffle* And Sammy, you listen to the dead prophet. Yeah, Dean made a mistake, but it's not like you're infallible or anything. *Harrumph* But yay Ghostfacers next episode!

Arrow- Okay, I wasn't really interested in the show originally, but I started watching because I have a friend obsessed with the show, and the fact that they have Captain Jack Harkness, River Song, and River Tam among the recurring guest stars is kind of awesome. And of course I started watching right before midseason hiatus. (Curse of the Sherlockian, I did the same thing when I started watching Sherlock. No one told me that there were only three episodes in that first season).

Anyway it's about dang time someone took Laurel to task for blaming everyone for her problems except herself. Ollie and Sara lived in hell the past 5 years, given up for dead, hunted by crazy people, tortured, brain washed, at some point Sara became an international assassin, but Laurel wanted everyone to pity her because her boyfriend cheated on her with her sister when she got overly clingy, and then she got drunk and lost her job, and her dad almost lost his job helping her, and she can't decide which billionaire she wants to sleep with. Yeah, I really feel sorry for you, Laurel.


February 17, 2014

Triple Chocolate Cupcakes

I recently had this massive chocolate craving. Like, epic craving. It lasted for days. I had a chocolate bar. Didn't help. I ate chocolate cereal for breakfast and chocolate covered snacks throughout the day, and I'd still be craving chocolate when I got home. I'm not sure where this chocolate craving came from, but it wouldn't leave me alone.

So during one of our myriad snow days, I took the opportunity to bake. And what did I decide to bake? Chocolate cupcakes, of course. But not just any chocolate cupcakes. Dark chocolate cupcakes with milk chocolate chips, topped with a whipped semisweet chocolate ganache.
Let me tell you, these cupcakes solved my chocolate craving but good. And they're super easy to make. The cupcakes themselves don't even take a mixer, just a bowl and a whisk, and you can always skip the whipping part of the ganache, sticking the tops of the cupcakes straight in it. I just like giving myself extra steps.
These chocolate chocolate chocolate cupcakes need to be served with a big glass of ice cold milk, but will satisfy even the biggest of chocolate cravings. Guaranteed*

*Treats & Trinkets cannot actually guarantee anything; however, if these don't solve your chocolate craving, may god have mercy on your soul.

Triple Chocolate Cupcakes
Yield: 18 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
¾ cup unsalted butter
3 eggs
1¼ cups sugar
¾ cup sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1½ cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
¾ cup milk chocolate chips

For the ganache:
12 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
12 oz. heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the bittersweet chocolate and the butter. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together until the sugar is completely dissolved and the eggs are lightly colored and fluffy. Mix in the sour cream and vanilla extract. Fold in the dry ingredients, then the chocolate chips.

Line a cupcake tin with paper liners, and fill about 3/4 of the way full with batter. Bake about 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely on wire racks.

Prepare the ganache: Place the semisweet chocolate in a medium-sized mixing bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the cream over low until boiling, stirring occasionally to prevent a skin from forming. Pour the cream over the chocolate. Allow to sit for a few minutes, then stir until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Stir in the vanilla extract, then allow the ganache to come to room temperature (it will seem solid), then whip on high with an electric beater. Pipe on top of the cooled cupcakes.*

*If you don't want to pipe the ganache, you don't have to whip it. Allow it to cool and thicken slightly before dipping the tops of the cupcakes in it. Chill any leftover ganache to make truffles.

Recipe by Kim

February 14, 2014

Stuff and Things 2/14/14

Life as I Know it
Happy Valentine's Day! Or as I know it, the-day-before-my-birthday-and-also-the-reason-my-friends-all-have-other-plans day!
I'm quite comfortable with my role as crazy fangirl, though. (I still have 24 hours to pretend this will happen. Shhhhhh)

I know I've been kind of an absentee blogger lately, but in my defense, that always seems to happen around this time of year anyway.

Okay, that's not really a defense. Why do you guys even still come here? I suck.

Did you guys get Thunder Snow last night? I did. And I'm a little too way excited about that fact. Thunder Snow. It sounds like a Syfy original movie. Or a bad eighties power ballad.

What else, umm... Have I ever told you how much I hate Dr. Oz? Like, with a passion? Since the grand majority of his claims are unsubstantiated-- or even actively rebuffed-- by actual medical science? Well, after reading this article in the New Yorker, I've gone from thinking he's just a buffoon who doesn't know how to check his sources to a legitimately terrifying public figure knowledgeably peddling pseudo science as fact. I mean, this quote in particular I find chilling:
Oz sighed. “Medicine is a very religious experience,” he said. “I have my religion and you have yours. It becomes difficult for us to agree on what we think works, since so much of it is in the eye of the beholder. Data is rarely clean.” All facts come with a point of view. But his spin on it—that one can simply choose those which make sense, rather than data that happen to be true—was chilling. “You find the arguments that support your data,” he said, “and it’s my fact versus your fact.”
-Michael Specter: "Is Dr. Oz Doing More Harm than Good?
 And on this subject, let's have a chat about one of my biggest peeves, which I can trace right back to Dr. Oz. Coconut oil is not healthy. Is it better for you than Crisco? Yes, but not as much as you think. Is it better for you than olive or vegetable oil? No. Is it good for you? No. If you sit down and actually do the research, which is a thing that I like to do, this all becomes readily apparent. Coconut oil is very high in saturated (bad) fat. It raises good cholesterol, but it also raises bad cholesterol. And while it does contain mid-chain triglycerides, which some studies suggest may help with weight loss, it doesn't contain enough in a serving to actually give you any benefit.

But don't take my word for it; this article from WebMD sums up all these points very well. (And in anticipation of the next argument, no I didn't do all my research on WebMD, but the article is consistent with all the rest I found and is a good summation in layman's terms)

Look, use it because you like it or use virgin coconut oil as a less processed, vegan alternative to solid fats like shortening or butter (the non-virgin version of coconut oil is very highly processed), I have no problem with that. But stop perpetuating the idea that it's some sort of health food

Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic

February 9, 2014

Strawberry Cupcakes

So, Valentine's Day is a thing that's happening. Soonish, right?

I kid. I know when Valentine's Day is. Its the day before my birthday, and it's usually the reason I have to wait a week to celebrate because everybody else has gooey romantic plans.

I don't really get Valentine's Day, you know? Don't get me wrong, I love all the things that comes with it. Pink, sparkly things, stuffed monkeys that make kissy noises (pictured above), chocolate and cherries, cheesy cards with bad puns and even worse double entendres. But seriously, guys. Is it really romantic if you're being romantic on the one day of the year the calendar tells you to be romantic?
And ladies, let's be reasonable. Guys only do romantic on February 14th because we expect them to do romantic because the calendar says we should expect the romance. First of all, if the woman wants the romance, why is all the responsibility on the dude? Secondly, isn't it more romantic if it takes you by surprise? If he shows up with flowers, chocolate, and dinner reservations on February 14th, he can't really do more than exceed expectations. But if he does it on a random date, then its unexpected and special. Call me crazy, call me bitter, but I find the latter much more romantic of the two scenarios.
Look, I'm not saying Valentine's Day should be abolished or anything. I'm not even saying it shouldn't be celebrated, but I like it best when its corny, pink, and sparkly.

These cupcakes are not some huge romantic gesture. They are cute and pink, decorated with sugar pearls and conversation hearts. They are perfect for a quiet Valentine's Day evening at home, exchanging cheesy greeting cards, giggling over the bad innuendos, and getting pink glitter everywhere.
The cupcakes get their flavor from strawberry sauce and a dollop of strawberry jam baked into the middle, which means you don't have to worry about trying to find strawberries in the dead of winter. The cupcakes themselves are based off of my Cherry Chocolate Chip Cupcakes, the whipped egg whites and buttermilk giving them a light airiness. My taste tester practically licked the liner clean, and they hadn't even been frosted yet.

And if you're wondering why the cupcake is brown and not pink, it's because I had forgotten to add the food coloring. Strawberries don't actually turn things red in baking, not without a little help, and the strawberry sauce I was using was more of a reddish brown to begin with. But that is most definitely a strawberry cake, no matter what the color.
Strawberry Cupcakes
Yield: 24 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar, divided
⅔ cup strawberry sauce
 cup buttermilk
½ tsp. vanilla extract
2 ½ cups flour
¾ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
4 egg whites
½ cup seedless strawberry jam

For the frosting:
¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
2 tbsp. vegetable shortening
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tbsp. strawberry sauce
½ tsp. vanilla extract
Small pinch of salt
Red food coloring (optional)

For the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350°. Line 2 muffin tins with 24 paper liners. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and ½ cup sugar together at medium speed until fluffy. Add the vanilla.

Mix together the buttermilk and strawberry sauce and add about ¼ cup to the butter mixture. Beat until fully incorporated. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add about half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until just combined. Add the rest of the milk mixture, followed by the rest of the flour mixture. Beat until smooth.

In a separate bowl with clean beaters, whip the egg whites on high until they start to turn glossy. Gradually add in the remaining ½ cup of sugar, and continue to whip on high until soft peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, carefully fold the egg whites into the prepared batter.

Add 1 tablespoon of batter to each muffin cup. Top with 1 teaspoon of strawberry jam and another tablespoon of batter. Bake 20 minutes, or until the tops spring back when gently pressed. Cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting: using an electric mixer, beat the butter and shortening on medium speed. Gradually add in the sugar. Add the remaining ingredients, continuing to beat on medium until well incorporated. Increase the speed to high and whip until light and fluffy.

Recipe by Kim