weekday indulgence: pretty in pink

Rough week? Sometimes you just need something colorful and sweet and homemade to perk you up.

These cake balls tagged along with me to brunch last Saturday and were a highlight amongst fails. Made from leftover frozen funfetti cakeballs and covered in adorable pink sprinkles, they’re fabulous.. But it especially made my day when three grown men sprinted to the kitchen for bedazzled pink balls. It’s Hump Day, celebrate the weekend being halfway here with a bite of awesome.

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we now interrupt your regularly scheduled program

In two years in New York, I’ve become friends with some pretty amazing people. Smart, creative, ambitious. To put it simply, my friends are damn . So when there’s a pretty awesome deal related to their creative services, I feel like I should share it with the world. Or at least my little slice of the internet world.

This is why I bring you today’s PSA. A little broadcast interruption, if you will. My friend and awesomely talented photographer Amber Marlow Blatt is offering a headshot special for the bloggers and internet folk!  Based in Brooklyn but available in the New York City area, her $100 special goes on until the end of March. A resident of any other city in the world? Well, the inside scoop tells me…, If you happen to be taking a trip to SXSW Interactive, you can get the headshots by Amber Marlow then!

Ok, so here’s the thing. Yes, Amber is my friend, so of course I want to see her succeed in this somewhat new, booming business of her pre-existing hobby. BUT, Amber is really all about embracing what’s unexpected in the photography world.  Totally romantic photos for same sex newlyweds? Yep.  An adorable pup and his owners? You got it. Cookies as big as menz? Mhmm.  Amazing boudoir shots? Oh yeah baby.  More than anything, Amber is a welcoming, inclusive photographer. She has a killer sense of humor and is a master at making you comfortable in your own skin. Which means she takes great headshots, pictures that show who you are loud and clear. [If you doubt me, go check em out!] Whether in her home studio or at Prospect Park, Amber can find the best light and angles for you. The entire time I spent with her, I never felt her directions or positions or edits were negatively focused. It wasn’t about double chins or bad angles or glare, it was about height and reflected flash and smiling.

And that comes to another reason why I so highly recommend getting some awesome headshots taken. Many of us, the bloggers and tumblers and tweeters of the world, we don’t always take ourselves seriously. We may not look at what we do as any sort of viable, income-producing job. But by investing $100 into yourself and your online identity with great, professional pictures, you’re telling the world you are confident. You do believe in yourself. That you are worth paying attention to. If the New York Times came to you last minute for a simple photograph of you to run with some insanely interesting article they were writing ABOUT YOU, would you be prepared? Dream big. Be ready for it.

Now, I’ll stop with my Stuart Smalley speech. And just tell you that if you live in the New York or Austin, TX area, you should contact Amber.

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baked sunday mornings: devils and angels

This, my friends, is what you would call a frosting fail.

This edition of Baked Sunday Morning was officially Devil’s Food Cake with Angel Frosting. Except the angel was being a real demon to me. Composed of whipped egg whites and boiled sugar syrup, all whipped together for a magical seven minutes, it just didn’t come together for me. This is a simple seven minute marshmallow frosting. I have made a few different batches of marshmallows in the past few months. I still have a bit of ego pain from this experieince.

Hurdle #1: My plastic mixing bowl must have had some residue on it, so my five egg whites never whipped. I changed to a stainless steel bowl and poured in my last five egg whites. Egg white success! Hurdle #2: The sugar syrup mixture is supposed to boil and reach 235°. The cookbook says very specifically Do NOT let sugar syrup go above the aforementioned temperature. My Taylor thermometer kept touching the bottom of my pan so it was reading hotter than it should. I turned my back for a split second and the syrup seemed to go up to the 240s. So I dumped that batch of syrup and tried again. This time, I think I acted too soon and pulled the syrup off the eye before it properly boiled.

So, when I streamed the syrup into the egg whites, everything turned into a marshmallow-y soup. My poor little hand mixer whipped. And it whipped. And it whipped some more. And then, I got the bright idea to add powdered sugar. In hopes that something like sugar would help it bulk up and whip. So I added some sugar. And then a little more. And maybe a bit more. And oh what the hell, finish off the box.

A pound of powdered sugar later, the frosting still looked like a liquid, not light and fluffy marshmallow frosting.

In my hasty, “Ohmahgawd I am DONE with these” mood, I frosted the cupcakes and took them to brunch. It tasted like goopy, liquified powdered sugar. Even with a sprinkle of smoked salt on top of the cupcake [which was a fabulous choice, by the way!] my frosting failure totally drowned out the delightful, devious cupcake underneath. The Devil’s Food cake was rather perfect, with a hint of coffee in it and a rich cocoa base. In the long run, I can’t, and won’t scrap the entire recipe. But, for people uncomfortable or inexperienced in using thermometers and dealing with mallowy foods, I say tread lightly with the frosting. A tangy vanilla cream cheese would be great with the cake if you want to try it.

Or just go for it and see what comes. If the worst happens, just realize that the day can only get better from there! Check out the recipe for Devil’s Food Cake with Angel Frosting at Baked Sunday Mornings. And don’t forget the success stories in the comments.

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take that, mickey d’s!

In my day job, one of my coworkers introduced me to the phrase “knocking up.” No, not that kind of knocked up. Most of us understand the concept of knock-offs, but she’s taking a lower cost garment and being ‘inspired’ by it but making a more complex, expensive version. Knock-ups are a budget-conscious way to find inspiration in garments that are otherwise unusable to you.

But in a much more interesting spin, you can also create knock-ups in the kitchen. For a few weeks, my roommate and I have been dreaming of breakfast for dinner. After a few failed attempts at coordinating our schedules, the magic happened last week.

Who needs the dreaded McGriddles when you can have that?! Whole wheat pancakes, fried eggs, extra sharp white cheddar cheese,  maple syrup and the pièce de résistance, house cured bacon from The Meathook. Most definitely a fork-and-knife sandwich, the breakfast sandwich creation was utterly amazing. Each part was delightful, but simple. The sum, greater than its whole. A very simple whole wheat pancake recipe from Cooks Illustrated. Straightforward fried eggs with broken yolks. Warmed maple syrup. And thick cut bacon baked at 375º, drizzled with maple syrup halfway through. The ultimate knocked up creation.

Holy moly that bacon. Mind blowing. Life changing. No, I’m not exaggerating. Thick sliced, it cooked up a bit chewy, charred edges caramelized nicely, with a little help from the maple. Rich, deep, salty, porky flavors. Seriously, I’m not sure if I can go back to my [pretty damn good] Niman Ranch.

Breakfast: It’s What’s For Dinner.

PS: need the pancake recipe and not a CI member? It’s .

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baked sunday morning: red velvet love

My love of the Baked cookbook keeps me going on the Baked Sunday Morning challenge. A few days late, a week late, I still enjoy baking and writing about the recipes chosen. The Red Velvet Whoopie Pies from last week’s challenge is no different. They’re the perfect love child of desserts from the South and New England: cakey whoopie pies filled with cream, but with the twang of cream cheese and chocolate bite of red velvet.

A fellow Southern transplant and friend was hosting brunch on Saturday, giving me the perfect excuse to bake these. The red velvet seemed like a a great match for Alabama roots, but once I arrived at her apartment, I discovered she als o adores whoopie pies.  Fate, I tell you!

And these whoopies? They’re perfect little bites of love. I used my to portion out baby whoopies. The recipe made me around 35 mini whoopie pies, with more than enough cream cheese frosting to fill them and have some extra. You know, for icing a small cake… Or eating straight with a spoon. What, don’t judge. When it comes to Baked recipes, this one was another straightforward one, not at all daunting. So give Baked Sunday Morning some love and go get the recipe. Make these for your next brunch, party, or just to pack in your significant other’s lunch. They’ll be shouting whoopie for you!

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