Sweet Inspiration and Culinary Adventures!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Here's To You, Mom

We don't celebrate our mothers enough.  They pour everything they have into making us who we are, being there for us in every way possible and giving us the best road map to life - at least mine did.  

I live several hundred miles away from my mom - so I won't be with her this Mother's Day.  Here's one of the funniest stories of how much I miss my mom sometimes:

My mom would occasionally travel for work, and if my memory serves me correctly, I would miss her like crazy.  One trip I remember we were getting ready for school and my Dad was trying to fix my hair.  All I wanted was a simple braid, Dad.  What do you mean you don't know how?  There were tears, and possibly a stuck hair brush.  Luckily, my older sister came to the rescue in mom's absence, unstuck the hairbrush and whipped up a braid.  (Dad I love you for teaching me to not throw like a girl, knock down walls and take a fence apart -  hair just wasn't your thing.)

The moment Mom pulled up to the house I ran out the front door only to fly off the slippery, wet porch and knock the wind out of myself in my landing.  Mom bought me a new Barbie on her trip, so the pain quickly dissipated.

Here's to you, Mom, and to my future Mother In-Law, with whom we are celebrating today.

Strawberry Scones
2 1/4 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cups European style butter, cold and cut into pieces
1 cup cut fresh strawberries
1 cup plain yogurt

Preheat oven to 440 degrees F; lightly flour a baking sheet.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.  Ad the butter and blend by hand until the mixture resembles oatmeal.  Add the strawberries.

Mix yogurt in to produce a dough that is a bit sticky but not wet.  Add more yogurt if mixture is dry.

Transfer dough to a floured surface and lightly knead for a few seconds.  Pat it out until it is about 1 inch thick.

Using a biscuit or cookie cutter, cut out 2-inch rounds and place on the cookies sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Optional Glaze
2 cups confectioner's sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 tablespoon milk

Mix ingredients together and drizzle on warm scones.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Be Inspired

Once again, I was blessed with my role at Kerrygold.  I attended the Big Traveling Potluck - hosted by Pam and Maggy of Three Many Cooks and Erika of the Ivory Hut.  These women go above and beyond to bring the blogging ("digital publishing") community together under one roof.  

Kerrygold Skellig Stuffed Prosciutto Wrapped Dates
The First Annual (at least I hope!) Big Traveling Potluck was held in Murrieta, California.  The weekend was full of delicious food, amazing people, beautiful scenery and all kinds of inspiration.    

Some of my favorite moments:

From Melissa Lanz of The Fresh 20 - Develop a personal mission statement.  I had a wonderful discussion with Melissa and will always remember her advice, "don't be afraid of change." 

From Matt Armendariz - Be kind to yourself and remember it's okay to step away from it all from time to time to gain a clear perspective.

From Helen Jane - Claim your power name, Billy Ocean did.

From Ree Drummond - You know, The Pioneer Woman...  What has she learned about food blogging?  Some of my favorites: Exercise more, blog as if you were talking to your sister and don't be afraid to embarrass yourself.    

From Barrett Ward, fashionABLE, and Jeannine Harvey, ONE - even small actions can make a difference.  Barrett told the story of fashionABLE.  So moving, check it out and be sure to buy one of their really beautiful scarves.

Now that I have been inspired by a wonderful community, I need to put the inspiration to good use.  Step one, build my personal mission statement.  Step two, be kind to myself.  Step three, be proud of my power name!  Step four, don't forget to use the treadmill and remember that it's good to be embarrassed every once in a while.  Step five, even small actions can make a difference, think about how I can help others.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Chicago Bakery Tour

Honestly, would you say no to a bakery crawl?  Think pub crawl, but instead of adult beverages, cupcakes!  No way was I turning this down.

First stop The Doughnut Vault.  If you haven’t been, it’s at the top of my list of amazing doughnuts.   They sell piping hot, as large as your head doughnuts in a ridiculously tiny, but fashionably cute space.  It’s a vault.  They are only open until they sell out, which is fast.  I highly recommend this spot.

Sprinkles Cupcakes.  They have a cupcake vending machine.  Need I say more?

Molly’s Cupcakes.  Molly’s has an interesting mix of flavors.  I thoroughly enjoyed the Cookie Monster Cupcake and highly recommend a second visit to try more.

Sweet Mandy B’s.  If you haven’t been, it’s a worthwhile stop.  They have a cute set-up with plenty of space.  They also offer a wide variety of sweets, from cookies, to brownies, to cupcakes, to cakes.  A great variety for a group of people. 

Swedish Bakery.  They specialize in European style pastries and desserts.  If you’re looking for something other than the traditional cupcake or cake, this is the spot for you.

Bittersweet.  Bittersweet is not just a bakery.  They serve lunch and even have a small gift section, which is perfect for a little Kitchen pick me up!

Bake!  This is a hidden gem.  This bakery is small, but quaint.  My pick is the chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting.  Although, I have yet to try the chocolate peanut butter – rumor has it this is the way to go.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

New York City – Travelling for Food

I had the privilege to attend an amazing luncheon with Catherine Fulvio and a dinner with Clodagh McKenna this March.  My role at my company afforded me with an opportunity to attend both, as we (Kerrygold) hosted the luncheon and were the main sponsor of the dinner.  

The week leading to St. Patrick’s Day was extremely busy.  However, it was one fantastic week for food.  We started the week with dinner at Marrow, where Chef Harold Dieterle and Alicia Nosenzo perfectly mix a German and Italian menu. 

Next on the menu (quite literally) - a luncheon hosted by Kerrygold, featuring Chef Catherine Fulvio.  Catherine started with a selection of Kerrygold cheeses paired with a Rosemary & Plum Chutney.  The chutney was a perfect pair for the cheese board.  This was followed by the most magnificent soup duo I have ever seen.  Two soups, split right down the middle – Spinach & Bacon greets Carrot & Thyme.  Fresh baked breads were also on the table.  My favorite was the Leek & Dubliner Scones, served with Kerrygold Butter, of course.  The main course was mouthwatering Lamb Loin Chops with Hazelnut Herb Crust.  Let’s not forget dessert; Apple and Mango Crumble that was so delicious, I wanted seconds (or maybe even thirds).    

We ended the week with Clodagh McKenna preparing a five star, five course meal for the prestigious Les Dames d’Escoffier group in New York.  Highlights of the meal included Baked Black Sole and Mini Chocolate Guinnesses. 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Savory or Sweet? Why not Both.

Do you ever crave something salty and sweet at the same time?  So do I.  It’s a delicate balance between the crunch of the salt crystals (hello sea salt!) and the sweet, chocolate morsels.  Add caramel, butter, cream and sugar heated until the perfect consistency and color, and it’s a real treat.  Looking for that perfect balance?  Thanks to Two Peas and Their Pod, you don't need to look any further. 

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies 
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup European style unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup Kraft Caramels, chopped into pieces
Sea salt, for sprinkling on cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  

In a large bowl, whisk flour, cornstarch, baking soda and sea salt together.  Set aside.

In a bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugars until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes.  Add egg and vanilla extract and beat until combined.  Slowly mix in the dry ingredients.

Stir in the chocolate chips and caramel pieces.  Form cookie dough into tablespoon balls and place on prepared baking sheet, about 2 inches apart.  Sprinkle each cookie with sea salt.

Bake cookies for 10 minutes, or until slightly golden brown around the edges.  let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for two minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Engaged! Now, How to Plan a Wedding?

Oh my goodness, are we really engaged?  Am I really engaged?  I could never have imagined my wildest dream would come true.  The love of my life has asked me to marry him.  I, of course, said YES!
Jerry and I started dating in July of 2011.  We actually met long before our first date.  I attended the annual Halloween party hosted by Liz and her roommates (before Jerry was one of them).  Our good friend Julie said to me, "Megan you have to meet Indiana Jones, you'd just love him!"  Well, that night I did not meet Indiana Jones, but two years later Julie convinced me to join a slow pitch softball league, and who happened to be on the team?  The one and only, Indiana Jones!!

How we got engaged, you ask?  Jerry and I had been talking for months about making a trip to Portland, Maine for a delicious seafood dinner and a special night out.  We decided we'd try just before Christmas.  Dinner reservations were booked, we even had a back-up plan for Boston, if we could not make the stand-by list to Portland.  

Weather had not been kind to many states the days prior to our departure date.  Flights had been cancelled and delayed - so many that the flight we were aiming for was over booked and the stand-by list was a mile long.  Portland, Maine was not going to happen.  So we waited for Boston.  Boston was not in the cards either.  Back home it was!

Jerry was planning ahead and booked a back-up to our back-up plan.  Reservations at Catch 35 in Chicago, we still were going to be able to enjoy that delicious seafood dinner we were hoping for! So he said he'd pick me up at 5.

Jerry arrives with a Whole Foods bag.  I'm thinking to myself, why on earth does he have this giant Whole Foods bag, we're going to dinner?!  He said he had an early Christmas gift for me. Christmas gift?  It isn't Christmas, I'm not opening anything, silly...  Well he said I had to.  So I open the present to find a wood box, he said open it!  I open the box to find a jewelry box inside.  Jerry asked if I  knew what it was.  I did not - the box was slightly larger than a typical ring box (or what I thought a typical ring box would look like) so I wasn't thinking he was going to propose!  And then he did!  Down on one knee, he asked and I said yes!  I couldn't believe it - I still can't believe it.  We're engaged!!  This really just happened?!
Apparently Jerry knew this was going to go his way - he pulled out a bottle of champagne from the Whole Foods bag (no wonder it was so large!) to celebrate.  And, girls, for those of you wondering - yes he did ask my dad.

December 22, 2012

Be sure to check out our wedding website!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Celebrate people, young and old

Typically every year I make a birthday cake for a cousin of mine.  Well, cousin once removed, or second cousin.  What is a child of your first cousin?  Family trees can be confusing. 

She celebrated her third birthday this year, which means Disney themes are in high demand.  Who am I kidding, I would love a Little Mermaid cake, you never outgrow Disney.  However, they do seem slightly more appropriate when you aren’t approaching 30.

Speaking of 30, I also have the great pleasure of living in the same city as my older sister.  I have so much fun every year planning her birthday festivities, including the cake!  This year she requested a winter themed cake, fitting for December.  All white with clear sugar crystals.  Done.