Updates from April, 2010 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Stephanie 4:05 pm on April 10, 2010 Permalink | Reply

    Adventure #13 – Push up Contest 

    March 6, 2010

    My last gift to Lydia and Chris before they headed out west was to throw them a going away party.  The theme – “Winter Wine Festival”.  As with all wine festivals, the idea was to feature a selection of food and wine pairings.  Each guest brought a dish and a complementary wine.   We had a variety of cheeses, an Antipasto tray, dips, and even a fondue platter for dessert!  Needless to say, this party was intended to be a classy affair…

    Somehow the kitchen turned into a dance floor and I heard a rumor that someone was actually performing “the worm” at one point, and another person was giving lessons on “the superman”.  We clearly underestimated the food to wine ratio!

    Just when things to started to mellow out, Lydia decided it was time to challenge me to a push up contest.  I have been known to throw down in push up contests, even beating men twice my size.  I look small, but I pack a powerful punch, and am freakishly good at push ups.  Lydia has never been able to beat me at push ups and I felt bad making her look like a chump in front of all of her friends, so I tried to find a more suitable (i.e. weaker) competitor.  Our friend Mali decided she’s up for the challenge, but then my wine muscles kicked in and I decided I can’t resist the chance to take on two competitors at once!  We adjusted our party clothes into push up ready position, and then it was GAME ON!  Lydia was out by push up #3 and I was doing two for every one push up that Mali was able to crank out, so the official judge determined that I was the winner.  Although I dared to put my title on the line, I am still the reigning champion of  push up competitions… (More …)

    • eatveggiesdrinkwine 8:26 pm on April 12, 2010 Permalink

      This is seriously fantastic — I clearly need to get invited to better parties … or throw one myself.

  • Stephanie 3:23 pm on April 10, 2010 Permalink | Reply

    Adventure #12 – Culinary Conundrum: A “Light” Cassoulet? 

    February 27-28, 2010

    There is nothing more comforting on a cold winter day than a warm bowl of cassoulet and a glass of red wine.  Cassoulet is a French casserole, usually made with white beans, duck, pork sausage, and various types of animal fat, cooked in a stew, topped with crusty bread crumbs, and then baked.  I tried making one last year during a snow storm and the results were OK, but I wasn’t blown away.  It had a good flavor, but I thought it was a bit dry.  This year, I wanted to one-up myself (perfectionism at its finest!) and make a PERFECT moist, flavorful cassoulet.  My other challenge was to lighten the fat and calorie counts by not using duck or pork fat in the cooking process, and using lighter cuts of meat (i.e. pork tenderloin, boneless/skinless chicken thighs, and turkey smoked sausage).   I also added a whole lot of veggies to up the nutrition factor.  A classically-trained French chef would shake their head in disgust, but it’s not feasible for most of us to confit a duck in our home kitchens!  I found three different recipes for Cassoulet from Cooking Light, which I used as a guide to put my own twist on this classic French comfort food.  It took two labor intensive days in the kitchen, but the results were so worth it!  Stay tuned, recipe coming soon for the Perfect “Light” Cassoulet….

  • Stephanie 2:38 pm on April 10, 2010 Permalink | Reply

    Adventure #11 – Heavy Metal Show at Club Whiplash 

    February 21, 2010

    Anyone who knows me will tell you I’m a standard girly girl.  In fact, my friend Matt has been calling me “Pretty, Pretty Princess” since high school.  I like my high-heeled shoes (especially patent leather), expensive handbags, little blue boxes with white ribbons, mani/pedi’s, and my ridiculously overpriced and inconvenient salon on Newbury St.!  I love shopping and am very excited when my friends at Banana Republic send me weekly coupons.  When I cook, I wear a retro Jessie Steel apron with pink cupcakes all over it!   So how did this cupcake baking, shopaholic in Banana Republic adorned with Tiffany’s in her black patent high-heeled boots end up at a Heavy Metal Show in Stoughton, MA?  She was DUPED!

    My friend Lydia was moving to California in a few weeks, so I pledged to spend as much time as I could with her before she left.  When she invited me to a “rock show” with her and her husband, Chris, I jumped at the chance.  One of her former co-workers was in a band and they were going to go see him play.  They worked at an architecture firm, so I figured the band would be a bunch of geeky architects with their T-squares doing Billy Joel and Elton John covers all night.  When we walked in and the warm-up band was covering Metallica (and not a T-square in sight!),  I realized just how severely I misjudged the situation.  This was heavy metal at its finest, and I was in for a long (and loud) night!  I swear I saw Brett Michael’s and Big John milling around, along with biker dudes and a lot of women who clearly hadn’t seen a stylist since the eighties!  Perhaps Lydia and I were out of our league?

    All in all, the night turned out to be great fun!  We moshed with the bikers, screamed with the crowd, and listened to some pretty decent music, as far as heavy metal goes (Steel Assassins is definitely a band worth checking out if you are into Heavy Metal).  Chris taught me how to make my hands into devil horns, which I showed off to my friends the next day while sporting a Steel Assassins T-shirt.

  • Stephanie 1:55 pm on April 10, 2010 Permalink | Reply

    Adventure #10 – Strawberry and Champagne Cupcakes 

    February 14, 2010

    In honor of Valentine’s Day I decided to transform my favorite wine and food pairing into a delicious dessert!  My love of champagne and strawberries began with “Pretty Woman” (who doesn’t love the scene where Richard Gere takes prostitute Julie Roberts up to the hotel room and “takes the liberty” of ordering this classy treat??), but has since grown into my go-to choice to end a fabulous dinner.  I figured I wasn’t the first person to think of champagne cupcakes, so I did a google search to get me started.  I found a great recipe for Champagne Cupcakes with Sweet Champagne Buttercream from gimmesomeoven.com.  I added my own little twist by filling the cupcakes with strawberry jam.  The results?  A light, sweet cake with a creamy, buttery frosting and a fruity, tart center that brought the whole package together.  The champagne wasn’t overpowering, but it gave the cakes a lighter consistency and slightly sweet taste.  I wish I had pictures of the look of sheer delight on people’s faces when they found the surprise in the middle!

    Below is the cake and frosting recipe from gimmesomeoven.com.  To fill the cupcakes, I used store bought strawberry jam.  I transfered the jam into a plastic bottle with a pointy tip and a hole large enough to squeeze out the jam.  When the cupcakes are cool (and before they are frosted), I poke a hole in the center of each cupcake with the plastic tip and then squeeze about a tablespoon of jam into the center.  Cover with the frosting and red sugar crystals and voila!

    Champagne Cupcake Ingredients:

    • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 3 tsp. baking powder
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 2/3 cup butter
    • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
    • 3/4 cup champagne (the sweeter the better – even strawberry would be great!!)
    • 6 egg whites

    Sweet Champagne Buttercream Frosting Ingredients:

    • 3 1/4 cups powdered sugar
    • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 3 tablespoons champagne, at room temperature


    To Make The Cupcakes:

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).  Prepare a cupcake pan with liners.  (This recipe yielded about 20 for me.)

    In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until very light and fluffy. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together, and then blend into creamed mixture alternately with champagne.

    In another large clean bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold 1/3 of the whites into batter to lighten it, then fold in remaining egg whites.  Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 full.

    Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

    To Make The Frosting:

    With an electric mixer, beat together sugar and butter. Mix on low until well blended, and then on medium for another two minutes.  Add vanilla and champagne, beating on medium for another minute.

    • Kelly Smith 2:49 pm on April 10, 2010 Permalink

      if you want to try something different with this I suggest:
      leaving off the buttercream frosting. When cupcakes cool slice the top off to make a “sandwich” make some homemade whip cream and mix in fresh strawberries. layer the whip cream on top of bottom half of cupcake and sandiwch with the top half.

      I do this with vanilla cupcakes and raspberry whipped cream or blueberries.

      (I accidentally replied to the wrong one the first time so I thought I’d repost)

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