Sunday, April 21, 2013

Raspberry Apple Buckle

Expectations are an interesting thing. Sometimes expectations create so much pressure that what would seem to be a sure thing ends up totally failing. Interesting. Take, for example a sports team. If they are ranked first in their division for a tournament, say March Madness for example, it seems this doesn't do them any favours.  From what I have seen it just sets them up for an early loss. Its as if the top ranking works against the team, giving a cocky confidence that ends up meaning they don't take the early rounds seriously. 

Or when you see a pair of shoes in a store that you really want and as soon as you try them on you are crushed because they are uncomfortable or make your ankles look fat (or whatever). And so you are thoroughly disappointed for a day because your high expectations for this pair of shoes just didn't pan out. The worst is these days seeing a bright, beautiful sunny day, and expecting the weather to be warm. After all, it is spring now! But, within 2 seconds of being outside you realize it is still close to freezing and your pastel skimmer jeans and flats, while cute, are going to give you a mild case of hypothermia. Expectations are tough.

Expectations can also be great. If you expect something to be delivered in a certain way, and that happens, it almost makes the delivery better. It makes the whole experience great and I find myself looking back thinking, that was really something else! I had high expectations and they were met with flying colours! Wonderful. It really doesn't get better than this type of situation.

Or maybe you have no expectations at all for something and you end up being pleasantly surprised by how well it turns out? This isn't always the best mind frame because it can create situations where you decide you will never expect anything, when really you do. And even though you don't have any "expectations", more often than not you end up disappointment. There are always expectations, even when others say they have none. Expectations are a funny concept.

I had high expectations for this cake, and did it ever deliver. The pictures on the other hand are a different story. My iPhone did not live up to my expectations, and though I really wanted to share this recipe, hopefully the pictures don't scare you away from making this cake.

What is a buckle anyways? It's a spongy cake with fruit in it that you can treat like a coffee cake. To me, this buckle is Spring on a plate. The sponge texture of the cake, mixed with the softened raspberries and apples makes for such a winning combination that I hope I will be making a few varieties of this. Blueberry and peach? Probably, my next combination. But that is the beauty of baking. The cake can stay the same, but the flavours can be determined based on what you have on hand or what you are feeling like. Chocolate banana, perhaps?

Oh, the possibilities.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Peanut Carmelitas

Yes, I have totally dropped the ball on blogging lately. And by dropped, I mean left lying on the floor to roll around until it physically. has. no. energy. left. in. it. to. move. Phew. Do you know what I do when I drop the ball at work? I bribe people. Yes, I admit to it. I bribe them with sweets and treats. And it works.

I also like to recognize helpful and awesome contributions through sweets and treats. Call me crazy, but I like to bake, and people seem to like what I make. It really ends up being a win-win situation for everyone. But here is the tricky part. I am now known as the resident office baker. So employees are very willing to help out when they think a treat is on the line. Likewise, when I do screw up (which is incredibly rare...), they joke that it isn't too big of a deal and it really isn't something that a nice baked good can't fix. I mean seriously people, can't you just be happy to help out a fellow co-worker?!

Bribes only work for so long. Before it starts to get ugly. And trust me, this bar recipe is going to make it verrry ugly.

Something that is no longer so ugly? My kitchen. Humpty-Dumpty is starting to come back together. Slowly. The appliances are in and working, but there isn't any water, and no sink. So cooking is back on track, but the clean up afterwards is really prohibitive. Currently I am having to take dishes down to the laundry room sink to wash the dishes. Uh, ya it is just as awful as it sounds. But, I am a survivor. The blogging must go on!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Butternut Squash Soup

It's kind of a quiet time right now. A bit of a lull that happens between Christmas and New Years. Turkey leftovers are gone, only a few of those Christmas cookies are left, and everyone is pretty much ready to go on their juice diet a few days early. I like the lull. It gives me time to catch up on marathon TV session. My recommendations? You really don't want to know. Oh, you still do? Keeping up with the Kardashians, House Hunters International, and Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. You asked.

Although it is normally a lull time, for me it's a bit of a chaotic time. My kitchen renovation is still in progress and things are seeming to get worse. I literally have no stove right now. And my refrigerator is in my garage. My freezing cold, dark garage. If you ever want to lose weight put your refrigerator in the most inconvenient and unpleasant place to go. Trust me, it will deter you in to eating a lot of pistachios and dry cereal since they are kept inside. But what I really want is a nice big bowl full of soupy-hugs. Yes, you heard me right. I need some loving company to get me through my marathons of awesome TV re-runs. There is nothing better.  Super comforting, cozy, and full of bright colours. And no, I am not referring to the many shades of lipstick and nail polish that the Kardashians constantly sport. I am talking about Butternut Squash Soup. And seriously, there is nothing better than this. And if all else fails, at least this soup looks refined, classy and mature...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Cinnamon Bun French Toast with Vanilla Maple Icing

Dear Retired Self,

What are you going to do with yourself?! You can't sit still for five seconds without getting antsy. You can't allow yourself to sit there and do nothing, and be ok with that. You ALWAYS have to be doing something. So is retirement all that you thought it would be? Or are you antsy and bored? Sure you have all the time in the world to do whatever you want, but are you doing anything with your time? Are you actually taking your time? Or are you doing things in five minutes and then getting bored that you no longer have anything to do? The second one? Thought so.

Ok, so how do we fix this problem now? So that when it comes time to retire (don't worry, I haven't started a countdown...I haven't even hit 30 yet!) you will be happy with having the time to do whatever you want, and you won't be so panicked about getting it done as soon as humanly possible. The art of slowing down is, if we are being honest, not really our forte. 

Good thing we have some time to get used to taking our sweet time eh? Cool.

Still growing-up Self.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Peppermint Sugar Cookies

I did it! And it worked just as well as I thought it would. I was in Starbucks over the weekend, ordering a coffee with the Engineer, and on a whim decided this was the perfect time. So after we had ordered, I looked at the person taking my order and said I would like to pay for the person behind me. My Engineer looked and me and said, "What?!". The guy behind me ordered two Grande double-shot lattes and I paid for all of our coffees. The guy behind us was totally unaware that he had just received free coffees from us. As we waited for our drinks the man behind me came up to us and said, "Excuse me, but did you just pay for me?". I replied that I had. But, at this point I wasn't too sure that my social experiment had worked out. He looked kind of mad. Then he said, "Wow, that is amazing, I can't believe you just did that!" and he smiled. This made me feel awesome. So sincerely awesome.

As we left the Starbucks the guy said thanks again, and told us he would never forget us. I kind of laughed at this, but I can honestly say that I smiled for the rest of the day. As we were driving away, I looked at the Engineer and told him that I was really glad that I had done that and that now I was getting into the Christmas spirit. I also said that I hoped this made the random guy want to do something nice for someone else, and so on. My Engineer laughed at this: apparently there is a movie about this? It's called Pay it Forward or something? I honestly hadn't heard of it (do I live under a rock!?). Needless to say, my holiday random act of kindness has now got me majorly into the Christmas mood.

More Christmas cookies anyone? Yes, please.