Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Spring has sprung! Raspberry crumble bars, spring bridal shower cupcakes and fortune cookies

It's been a year since I graduated college. It seems like so long ago Liz, Taylor and I were hanging out at his house with our families, celebrating four years, much of that time on the Kansan together. All parts of my family came together, a fairly rare occasion. Mostly, though, I was ready to be out of school. I do miss my college friends who have moved away, and the way the Kansan never failed to provide a few friends willing to go out to Louise's on a Thursday night for schooners. But that leaves room for wonderful reunions, whether they be in New York City with Mary, at the Sandbar with Erin and Jodi or during a baby shower at my house. I can't say I miss college, though. I might miss the occasional LNOP shenanigans, but the friends I made in college are still here, with none of the homework! I enjoy getting to go home and watch TV, bake, go to the gym, read or just be plain ol' lazy. So happy graduation, all, and enjoy the free time when you don't have to read a textbook by Judith Butler (circa my final poly sci class, Contemporary Feminist Political Theory).

The fortunes in these cookies come from people who could perhaps use a little extra schooling. I'm sure everyone has heard of Shit My Students Write, but just in case you haven't, go check it out. I've wanted to try fortune cookies for a while, but they're a bit intimidating. After all, you are taking a cookie right out of the oven and forming it with your bare hands. But they turned out tasty after a little trial-and-error. And they were nice reminders of what not to write in a high school term paper.

Between jobs, I had some time off to do nothing...which is pretty much what I did. I spent some time with Grandma, and then came back and baked with Aunt Betty. I'm excited that fruit is starting to come into season, especially berries. These raspberry crumble bars were a yummy way to taste summer. Pretty sure I could have just eaten the streusel by itself as dessert.

And in a final springy-summery dessert, I made these cupcakes for a bridal shower. I was to make vanilla cupcakes and key lime pie cupcakes, and the theme was spring, so these fit perfectly. I love how the wrappers look like petals, and I used a fondant cutter to make the flowers for the top. It was my first time with that thing, so I had to practice a bit, but I think they turned out well. I'd forgotten how much I love those key lime pie cupcakes...will have to make those again when it starts getting really hot! (Adding these to Hoosier Homemade's Cupcake Tuesday!)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Farewell to the LJ baking: Cake pops, brownie cups and birthday cupcakes

Today marks my first Monday not as a Journal-World employee. It's quite strange, particularly because I'm hanging out with family on a night when I should be trying to fall asleep before work. I'm on to my next job, but have been sad to leave the people at my last one. I had a wonderful going away party last Friday, but I know it won't be the end of seeing them all. Excitement on the other side of this, though, is that I've found myself an apartment in Kansas City, which makes this new job (that starts Thursday!) all the more real. It's only a few minutes from my office, it's a one-bedroom and it's in a renovated warehouse/factory sort of building...way cool! Now I need to work on updating all my college-crappy stuff to slightly less crappy stuff. Wish me luck!

So last week I wrote about the first of my work going-away treats, my soda cupcake trio. My next treat was these chocolate cake pops. I've never done chocolate before, and as expected, they were rich and wonderful. They're my good friend Nick's favorite dessert, so I saved him all my rejects as my farewell from work. His going away present to me? A 1937 Tonganoxie community cookbook he got at the swap meet. I was a little terrified when he said he got me something at the swap meet, which could have meant a carburetor or some trashy t-shirt, but luckily he didn't do that. My favorite terrible old recipe in it: laxative fig and date bon bons. Ew. But there are plenty of good recipes in it too!

For Friday's going-away sweet, I went with my friend Whitney's request: peanut butter brownie cups. These made an appearance on her Friday blog, along with a farewell message to me (it was so sweet!). I had two bake sales to bake for: our Relay for Life team one and the Blogger's Bake Sale. These are super simple desserts (they're actually easier to make without a KitchenAid mixer!) and they are soooo good. And rich. Beware of that little detail.

And last, but not least, on Friday I also made some special cupcakes for my coworker Mark Fagan. Fagan has two children who have become a couple of my absolutely favorite dessert consumers. He always brings back reviews of what I've made, sometimes accompanied with photos or video. One time I even got a card! Well, Saturday was his daughter's birthday, and she wanted me to make cupcakes. The parameters: vanilla cupcakes, the creamsicle cupcake icing (marshmallow-flavored), favorite colors of green and purple, and a love of peace signs. I found these perfect peace sign barretts, then just went with a multi-colored frosting. My 9-year-old self was pleased. And from what I hear, she liked them too! (P.S. - Posting these to Hoosier Homemade's Cupcake Tuesday!)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Soda cupcake trio and some very big news!

I know it's been a little bit of radio silence over here this week, but I promise, I have a darn good reason. I've had a busy couple of weeks...covered a Royal Wedding watch party, went to Salina with our photographer, Richard, to cover a Lawrence student going to military school — actually, that one has turned out to be my favorite story I've written at the LJ. But actually, the biggest news has to deal with the LJ: this Friday is my last day there. I've accepted a position at the Kansas City Business Journal, where I will be a reporter and copy editor, dealing with the web primarily. I'm pretty excited, but it's also my first move between jobs. So hopefully it goes well!

Part of my farewell this week will be a fair amount of baking. I'm actually really sad about about leaving my coworkers; they're great people. I think that's the hardest part of leaving, actually. It'd probably be easier if I hated them, but I don't. So because this is my last week working with them, I want to treat them to some Brenna sweets before I go. For today's cupcakes, I went with a soda theme. Option 1: cherry Coke cupcakes. They have a cola-flavored cake with four maraschino cherries baked in, then a cream cheese cola icing. I don't even really like straight cola flavor, but I liked these.

Option 2: Creamsicle cupcakes. Okay, so that's an ice cream treat sort of, but I've had an orange creme soda before too. I used this orange cake recipe, then sort of made my own frosting up. It's my basic vanilla frosting with marshmallow fluff mixed in. On top I made a candy melt topper that tastes like orange.

My last option is root beer cupcakes, which I've made once before. They're made with root beer extract, which is the weirdest thing. I actually found it at Walmart, of all places. I made my basic vanilla frosting and added some of that.

So, starting late next week, I have a new staff to bake for. I'm excited but nervous as well. Guess we'll see how it goes! P.S.: posted these over at Hoosier Homemade's Cupcake Tuesday!
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