Monday, December 22, 2008

Crazy Day!!

Apparently, just before holidays or long weekends, work gets totally out of control as clients are worried about having a couple of days off and who's covering for who. We're cramming last minute code changes into production and getting everything ready to go for the end of the fiscal year for many companies. Also, HR decided that we didn't quite have enough to do so piled on annual reviews on top of everything else. It's kind of weird for me because this is the first time that I have to do reviews for people who report to me. Now, they don't formally report to me as in I really have a serious input into their career, but they do report to me on projects that we're working on which makes me much more involved in their career than I have been in past positions. It's just a weird spot to be to realize that I actually manage people and have that kind of input into their career progression.

On that note, I must get back to commenting on their performance....oh and writing my own self-review as well.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Another App Down!

Well, really just a piece of an app. I finally submitted Part I of my Kellogg application. I had been almost done with it for a week now, but needed to confirm my recommenders and work just completely got away from me! I'm getting ready to start in on the rest of this application as well as the two others that I'm working on so we don't hit too much crunch time come 2009!

Good luck to all of the other MBA applicants out there! I hope you get some time to enjoy the holidays in between figuring out what you want to do with your future careers and writing about leadership experiences and failures and why X school.

Chocolate Bourbon Cake and Gingerbread House Making!

Dessert Night got into the holiday spirit last week with lots of Gingerbread house making. People decided that they wanted to make their own gingerbread house so we had 8 of them being made at once! Luckily I have a small island in my kitchen otherwise my small apartment couldn't have handled all of this madness. Here are a few of the photos from the gingerbread house making.




ChuThis also was able to join us this week since she got a nice break from all of her traveling for work! She found a recipe for Chocolate Bourbon cake earlier in the week and decided to make it for dessert night. Check out the beautiful cake. I'll let her share the recipe and her baking experience with you on her blog. Stay tuned for that one!


This week we also enjoyed the second cake in Rick's Web 2.0 cake series, the Blogger Cake. It was a very tasty funfetti cake that actually had a pint of ice cream mixed into the batter so it had a different consistency than the funfetti cakes I usually make. It was very delicious. Check out the nice frosting work on the Blogger logo.


Happy Holidays from everyone at Dessert Night to you and your family! We're taking a couple of weeks off and will come back with a bang in 2009! Wishing you a save and enjoyable holiday season with lots of yummy sweet treats because you deserve the best!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Panettone

Panettone is one of my favorite things about holidays. I'd say Christmas, but it always seems like we eat Panettone for Easter too. But honestly, it's so yummy that I'd be ok eating it all of the time. Panettone is a light brioche bread that has raisins, citron, and other sweetened dried fruits in it. I know that it sounds a lot like fruitcake, but I can promise you that it's nothing like fruit cake. While fruitcake is extremely dense, dry, and often could be used as bricks, panettone is a large version of a fruit studded brioche. Toasted panettone is one of my favorite things ever. Now you definitely have to be careful and make sure that it doesn't catch on fire, but after a nice even toasting, the crispy outsides are just to die for.

Unfortunately, this isn't a quick and easy tasty treat to make. Here's one example of a great homemade panettone recipe. I didn't have time for this crazy recipe this week, so I went to Il Fornaio who makes fabulous Italian pastries. All in all, a very tasty dessert night.

Friday, December 12, 2008

2 Down! Now Onto the Next One

This week I managed to get my Haas Round 2 application in a whole 5 hours prior to the deadline!! Wooo! It was fabulous! This extra time allowed me to take a brief nap and actually get to enjoy dessert night. I'm very excited to have 2 applications already turned in. Now, if only I could start hearing back from these schools...but that's another story.

Compared to my Stanford application, the one for Haas seemed a bit more generic. There were only a few questions that I got really excited about answering because the rest of them seemed pretty bland. Given that there were a ton more essays for Haas than Stanford, I didn't get to really reuse many of my Stanford essays. 2 of them fit the questions that Haas asked, but definitely required major tweaking to get them to match Haas's word limit.

All in all, I'm definitely happy with myself for getting these applications in and now I think I'm pretty good to go on getting through the rest of them a bit more easily. Thank you so much to C & J who helped me read all of the drafts for these essays and let me know when they were lost, what was good, and when I forgot that darn Oxford comma! I really appreciate it.

Now, if only I had a better GMAT score... that will be another thing to work on.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Blackberry Poundcake

Given my crazy week this week, I was again looking for a fast and easy dessert that would be very tasty. I should probably clarify my definition of fast. I'm not necessarily looking for something that takes only 20 minutes from start to finish. I'm ok with recipes that require all various lengths of baking time, as that's time I can use to work and do stuff around my apartment. However, recipes like sandwich cookies or layer cakes generally require so much active time that I have been avoiding them lately. This week I decided to try a recipe from Baking Bites for Blackberry Pound Cake. I love pound cake, particularly as the basis for strawberry shortcake in the summer months. Adding the blackberries to the batter made it like shortcake but with no assembly required. Originally, I wanted to substitute the blackberries with cherries because J loves cherries so, but unfortunately Safeway was out of frozen cherries. The blackberries were really amazing though. The seeds were not too prevalent in the fruit once baked and the sweetness of the fruit added a great natural sweetness to the cake without needing too much sugar. Definitely toss the frozen fruit in a bit of flour before adding it to the batter to avoid contaminating the color of the dough. I'd really like to try this cake again with a different fruit and see if it's as sweet and flavorful. It would also be a really great holiday gift for people as I think that the recipe will probably make at least 4 mini loaves. If I had more time this holiday season, I'd be making these as gifts.

Honestly, this is one of the most satisfying breads that I've made in a long while that has just enough sweetness to satisfy my need for a dessert, but not enough sweetness to give me a massive sugar high. I highly recommend it. To make your own Blackberry Pound Cake, here's the recipe.

Also, thanks to Rick for the first in his series of Web 2.0 cakes. The flickr cake was not only tasty but it was a fabulous example of a good frosting job! I can't wait to get to enjoy the rest of them.



Wednesday, December 3, 2008

GMAT Attempt 1 and Another Week Another Grad School App

This week has already been a busy one. Luckily, last week was a short week because of Thanksgiving. I actually strategically planned my GMAT test date for the Monday after Thanksgiving because I wanted to be able to relax at home and I knew that I'd be getting more sleep and not have work on the brain because I would have a few days off.

I definitely think that this strategy helped me be more relaxed when I took the test, but it was not enough to really let me relax and not psych myself out, particularly on the math. The Quantitative section is not the type of math that's interesting to me, so it's hard to make yourself really care if Sally contributed twice as much as Joe and 2/3 as much as Sam how much they all contributed. Give me a mathematical model and I'll happily spend the next 3 days constructing it and improving my assumptions. Also, I tend to just finish all of the questions in this section in the nick of time, so I don't really have time to take a breather and re-center myself in the middle of the math section because those precious minutes are needed to answer each question. I think that's why I did so much better on the verbal. I took the time to breathe and relax in the middle of the exam because I knew that I would still finish early and that the additional relaxation would help me do better. I am still waiting to hear how I did on the writing portion, but I'm not too concerned because I generally write pretty well and schools don't put as much emphasis on the writing for me since English is my first language. All in all, it was an alright first shot at the GMAT. I'm not satisfied with my score, so I will be taking it again, but that's something that I'm doing for me.

Now that the GMAT's over with, well at least for this week, it's on to another grad school app! It seems like almost each week in December I need to switch my focus to a new app. Another week, another app is the motto for December!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip and Chocolate Marshmallow Cloud Cookies

This week, Ryan and Tara baked since I've been so busy doing multiple choice problems in preparation for my GMAT test on Monday.

Ryan tracked down his mom's award winning, according to him, oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe. I must say I breathed a sigh of relief when I remembered that he said oatmeal chocolate chip cookies instead of oatmeal raisin cookies. Several dessert night regulars, including J and ChuThis, don't like raisins. Here's a pic of the tasty cookies:


Tara brought over these very tasty chocolate cookies with marshmallows stirred into the batter. They were really really tasty, especially after dipping them in a glass of milk! I totally misunderstood that Tara was bringing cookies, so I went in search of milk for hot chocolate that I thought we'd stick these marshmallow clouds in, but I was mistaken. Good thing I had the milk to dunk the cookies. Mmm, marshmallow clouds!


Also, this week, we bid temporary farewell to our good friend Neena. She's returning home to Texas for a month or so and we all will miss her terribly while she's gone.


Farewell Miss Neena!!! We're going to miss you!

Monday, November 24, 2008

One More Week!!

Yup, that's right folks!! I have one week of doing hundreds of multiple choice problems left! I can't wait to be done and back onto essays for my next grad school app.

While I'm incredibly stoked to be almost done with the GMAT, I'm quite nervous because I haven't been scoring as well as I would like to be on my practice tests. I have at least 4 more to take between now and next Monday so hopefully that changes soon!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ben's Tasty Banana Cake

This week, Ben brought a very tasty and moist banana cake to Dessert Night. It was much more moist than traditional banana bread and tasted great with a small layer of powdered sugar on top. Ben was worried that he didn't cook it long enough, but I felt that the almost gooey texture of the cake made it's texture more cake-like and avoided the dryness that can come with over baking.

Unfortunately, I've been VERY bad about remembering to take pictures of the dessert prior to eating it, so once again there are no photos from this week. Sorry Ben! I promise I'll get better at this next time.

Up next week: Ryan M's Mom's famous Oatmeal Raisin Cookies!!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Happy Birthday J!!!!!

Happy 26th Birthday J!!!! You can officially round up to 30 now. Ok, enough giving him a bad time for being old and on to describing his very tasty cake.

A month or so ago when I asked him if he wanted to keep Dessert Night on his birthday, he decided that he did and that he either wanted Chocolate Zucchini Cake, which is mom always makes for him, or something chocolatey and peanut buttery. I decided it was best to leave the Chocolate Zucchini cakes to his mom and instead find a tasty chocolate peanut butter dessert. After much searching for possible tasty recipes, I settled on this Chocolate Peanut Butter cake recipe from Smitten Kitchen.

The recipe posed several challenges for me as this is probably the nicest cake I've attempted to make in a long time. First of all, it's always challenging to bake a 3 layer cake in only 2 cake pans, but I managed to quickly swap one of them out in time to bake the other one before anything bad happened to the remaining dough. The cake part turned out really tasty and fluffy. I will definitely be making it again. Second, the recipe was rather long as there were 3 pieces to it and somehow I managed to not read the entire recipe the first, second or even third time around which resulted in 4 trips to the grocery store to acquire all of the ingredients for this recipe.


All in all, it turned out really well and was surprisingly not too sweet after all of the sugar that went into it. I highly recommend that you follow Deb's notes with the recipe about chilling the cake at certain points in the assembly process as they really make it much easier to put together. The only thing I'd add in addition to her notes is that the recipe for the glaze seems to make a lot more than you actually need for this cake so you might try putting only about 2/3 of the glaze on the cake at first and then adding more later if you need it.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Today a Dream Comes True

Since I moved out of my parent's house and had to furnish my own kitchen, I've dreamed of owning my own Kitchen Aid mixer. I say dream because furnishing an apartment let alone a kitchen is an expensive endeavor for a 21 year old with college loans to repay.

I grew up using my Mom's Kitchen Aid mixer which was handed down to her by her Grandmother. It was one of the old ones that doesn't have the 3rd prong on the outlet and has 2 beaters instead of the one that's found on the current models. The bowls are ceramic and very flat instead of the more rounded bottomed metal bowls of today. Also, because of it's age, it's almost impossible to get additional attachments for it. Nonetheless, it was the mixer that I used when I first learned how to make a souffle, whip cream, and frosting (and let me say that it can still make a mean souffle despite it's age).
All of the food blogs that I read seem to assume that their readers possess a stand mixer as a part of their kitchen equipment and often don't detail how to make the recipe without this vital piece of equipment.

Now, at 25, I'm finally able to afford this expensive kitchen plaything. After much searching and deliberation, I found the Kitchen Aid Professional 600 Series 6-quart stand mixer on sale on Amazon.com for 46% off! I couldn't believe it. Not only could I actually afford a mixer, but I could buy one with the dough hook and beater attachments as well as the pouring shield. I finally got it in the mail on Friday and already unpacked it and made it at home on my counter. Now, I can't wait to have time to make all sorts of yummy things that I couldn't have made before with no mixer.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Training Tips for the GMAT Marathon

A GMAT survivor and I were discussing the GMAT last night and he framed my thinking of how to go about the GMAT in a very interesting way. He used the analogy of a marathon.

Honestly, that's kind of how I feel about the process right now is that I'm in the middle of a long marathon and am doing my best to not get tired. But his analogy was different. He looked at the studying process for the GMAT like one would train for a marathon, with actual GMAT test day being race day. I could no longer think of GMAT studying as just the memorization of formulas, grammatical rules, and practice tests. Instead, these were some of his thoughts.

1. Train for endurance. When you train for a marathon, you run for increasing lengths of time until you've almost reached the 26 miles in one sitting. The GMAT is much the same. You cannot do small problem sets of 10-20 problems and then take a break and then go back. On test day, you will be doing 35-40 problems in 75 min blocks. Why not train that way? Do 60 problems at a time, then when you get to test day your brain things "wow, only 35 problems? easy!"

2. Train for a time. Many marathon runners train with the goal of the completing their marathon in a certain time. We GMAT takers HAVE to complete the GMAT sections in their allowed time or suffer a serious blow to our score. Why not train that way? If you have to do a problem in under 2 mins, but you practice doing them in 3-5 mins, then you're not helping yourself. Stick to the practice test time limits and then this will be no shock on test day.

3. Improve your strenghts as well as your weaknesses. I guess this applies more to triathalon runners, but if you're very good at the swimming leg of the race, work on getting faster at that too. All it does is improve your performance in the end. The GMAT is the same way. If you're good at math, an amazing math score will compensate for a slightly weaker verbal score, resulting in that overall high score that top B-schools want from you.

These tips will definitely result in a different studying approach for me for my remaining 2.5 weeks before my test. Hopefully, they will help others as well.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Pumpkin Pie and Pumpkin Bread

It's finally starting to feel like fall out in San Francisco. This weekend we're having our second rain of the entire year which isn't really all that bad, but it does make you want to enjoy more wintry foods. I checked out ChuThis's brussel sprouts, which were totally amazing and really only took about 15 mins to do which is great. In the stores, in addition to seeing brussel sprouts, squashes have started to enter the produce department with their great colors, shapes and variety of sizes. I have loved basic baked butternut squash so much that I thought I should make some sort of a squash related dessert. Thus, this week, it was everything pumpkin.

I had some pumpkin leftover from a Mystery Box a while back and wanted to see if it made different tasting pie filling than the plain old canned pumpkin that I usually use. I'm sorry to report that it really didn't taste that much different for the additional couple of hours work required to make my own canned pumpkin.


For my pie, I used the pie recipe that I've been using for years from the back of the Libby's canned pumpkin, except I substituted my pumpkin puree. It turned out tasting just as great as the usual pie recipe.

Also, I thought I'd try a new tasty pumpkin treat. I saw a fun and easy recipe for Pumpkin Bread on Cookie Madness the other day and thought I'd give it a shot. The recipe called for pumpkin pie spice and I was not aware of any such spice so I substituted the same spices in the Libby pie recipe. Here's the modified recipe below.

Pumpkin Bread (modified from the Cookie Madness recipe)

1 3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×5 inch metal loaf pan or spray with cooking spray.

Stir together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, ginger, cloves, and cinnamon. Set aside.

Whisk together oil, sugar, eggs, vanilla, pumpkin, and water in a mixing bowl. Add the flour mixture and stir just until moistened.

Transfer mixture to loaf pan and bake for 1 hour or until done. (I think that mine probably took a bit more like 1 hour and 15 mins but you want to keep a close eye on it.)

The thing that I really liked most about this recipe is that it was really fast. I think my prep time on the whole first loaf was only 15 mins and it was so tasty that I made 2 more loaves.

Sorry for no pictures this time around. I've been really bad about forgetting to take pictures of the desserts that I've made lately. Next week, I will do better. I promise.

Monday, November 3, 2008

GMAT Crunch Time

Now that I've managed to get in my first B-school app, I'm buckling down on my GMAT studying once and for all. I have less than one month until my scheduled test date, so must get down to business.

Here's my quick and dirty study plan:
-Week 1: math review, practice math bin questions, & take a practice GMAT
-Week 2: finish math review, review concepts from missed practice problems & take a practice GMAT (2 if possible)
-Week 3: switch to verbal problems & take a practice GMAT (2 if possible)
-Week 4: finish review of verbal problems, do practice essays, & take a practice GMAT

As you can see, it's a pretty tight schedule, so if I'm not blogging regularly you'll know what happened.

Good luck to all the other B-school applicants out there.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Spooky Dessert Night!

Given that this past Tuesday was so close to Halloween and I've been reading about cute spooky desserts all month, I decided that I should have a Halloween themed Dessert Night! We of course had to do the traditional activity of carving pumpkins so this was a BYOP (Bring Your Own Pumpkin) event.




I also learned that J has never had a caramel apple before!! I was shocked as they are one of my favorite sweet things. Every time I'm home in Carmel, CA, I go to Pieces of Heaven in the Barnyard because they have a wonderful assortment of caramel apples ranging from the most basic caramel apple to crazy caramel apples that have chocolate sauce, marshmellows, nuts and chocolate chips. So good! So I had to introduce J to a caramel apple (though he still hasn't eaten one because they took so long to set after coating them...it's a work in progress). Check out the tasty apples that we made.


Now for the desserts! I had a VERY hard time deciding between all of the really cute spooky desserts that I heard about. I finally settled on Vampire Cupcakes and Spooky Halloween Cookie Bars mainly because the Vampire Cupcakes were just too cute, and I really wanted an excuse to eat the lime green and purple (my favorite colors) M&Ms that were required for the cookie bars.


I totally cheated and made the Vampire Cupcakes with cupcake mix, canned cherry pie filling, and premade frosting, but it was really the final effect that mattered. You can see the "blood" oozing out of the middle of the cupcake here.

The Spooky Halloween Cookie Bars turned out great despite the fact that I was definitely not reading the recipe carefully when I was making them and thus made a lot of mistakes. First of all, I put the whole amount of flour into the batter at the beginning instead of reserving some for the white cookie layer on top that you make later. To fix this, I added additional flous to the white cookie mixture and hoped for the best. Next, I didn't combine the melted butter and the cocoa powder before adding it to the dough. Actually, I thought the recipe required 1 1/3 cups of cocoa powder instead of just 1/3 cup. So after dumping all of that cocoa powder in there (luckily I hadn't really mixed yet), I had to dump it back out and start over combining the cocoa powder with the melted butter. Luckily, whatever I did seems to have made the cookies better. They were so tasty!!! I can't even begin to explain and, despite all of the sugar and candy in them, they weren't that sweet.


All in all, it was a really fun Halloween themed Dessert Night.

The First B-School App is in!!!

Wednesday was the big day! I finally finished my essays and completed my application in time for the Stanford Round 1 deadline. Thank you SOOOOO much to ChuThis, Ben, Gabe, and J for all of their help reading my essays, applications, and making sure that I remained relatively calm and focused throughout this crazy process.

Good luck to all of my fellow applicants for the Stanford GSB Class of 2011!!

Now begins the waiting for my interview invitation.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Happy Birthday Grandma & Tiramisu!

Today is my Grandma's birthday (or would be if she was still around). I have decided that I will celebrate her birthday every year by enjoying tiramisu on her birthday in her honor. This year, it just so happened that her birthday would have been so close to dessert night that I decided that everyone should have tiramisu in her honor. I don't have a stand mixer, as this blog has address numerous times before, so I decided to go the easy route and buy tiramisu from Trader Joe's. So many of their other desserts are very fabulous.

There were no ladyfingers anywhere to be found in this tiramisu! Crazy I know, tiramisu without ladyfingers, but that's what it was. It was on this sort of a chocolate/coffee cake thing. The whipped cream portion of the cake was good. It wasn't too heavy which was nice and had chocolate flakes mixed into it. This isn't traditional of a tiramisu, but it was tasty.

All in all, I think it was an alright dessert night, but Grandma definitely wouldn't have liked the tiramisu. She was always on a quest to find the best tiramisu and I think she'd agree that Trader Joe's does not have it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

One Week Left!!

One week from today, I will be submitting my first round one app!! It's kind of crazy. I thought I would be a lot more worried about it at the moment, but lots of last week's stressing seems to have paid off in the sense that I'm not as behind as I thought I was. Yes, my career essay still lacks a bit of pizazz and focus, but it's not that bad and the rest of my essays require additional work, but nothing too horrible.

Luckily, this week is really open for me in terms of other stuff and my new project at work seems to be relatively manageable for the next week before it implodes. So, really, all is good! I will continue plugging away and we can celebrate later.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Crazy Week of Info Sessions

This week has been a crazy week of info sessions. I have done two campus visits with info sessions and two off campus info sessions. Let me give you a short recap of all of them.

Monday, I went to Stanford's GSB campus for an info session. I was also supposed to go on a campus tour but given what happened to the GSB community the weekend before the admissions office canceled all student related admissions events. The info session was a great reminder of the curriculum layout and some of the global experiences that are required as part of the Stanford program. Also, the admissions couselor gave some good insight into the essay question "What's most important to you and why?" which I've been struggling with lately. (ClearAdmit also had some great advice on this one. Check it out.)

Tuesday brought another info session. This time it was for Wharton at the Wharton West campus in San Francisco. The associate dean of admissions did a quick overview of the program and what can be expected and then let about 15 or so alumni come up and talk and take questions. That was probably the most valuable part of the program overall and helped me target who I would like to talk to more after the event. She also did a quick overview on the application process which was helpful because I really haven't looked at the application yet. She provided some great insight into what they were looking for.

Thursday's info session was probably the most interesting at all. It was a small gathering of Chicago GSB alumni in a person's house in San Carlos. There were 3 prospective students and 3 alumni. It was a great chat about their experiences at Chicago. I got a totally different perspective than I would have gotten from the traditional info session. We talked about issues that women face at business school, the support system for partners and spouses as well as the academics of the program. All in all, it was probably the most insightful discussion I've had with a room full of women in a long time.

Saturday brought a day long session at Haas in Berkeley. I was actually anticipating that this day would just be really long and partially informative, but I was really pleasantly surprised. The day started with a keynote from a successful alumni and an alumni panel. There was definitely some good application information sprinkled throughout the day. It was also interesting to hear a panel of current students from all of the different MBA programs at Haas. Also, I got to meet another 100 or so people also considering applying to Haas which was awesome. It was nice to chat with other like-minded women. Though I must say that after 8 hours, I was ready to talk to boys.

Well, all in all, it's been a long week of lots of info sessions. For the most part, they've been very informative. I'm going to have to let all of this information simmer a bit while I decide which schools I will apply to in the second round.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

German Apple Cake Recipe

Thanks to Carly for sharing both the recipe and the cake with us a couple dessert night's ago. For all of you who've been asking me, here's the recipe...

German Apple Cake:
2 large eggs (or 3 small)
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup applesauce
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
4 peeled, sliced golden delicious apples

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat eggs, oil, and applesauce until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients, except apples and nuts and mix. Fold in apples and nuts.

Pour into 9x13 greased and floured pan. Bake for 45-60 mins at 350 degrees.

Cream Cheese Icing:
2 small (80z) packages of soft cream cheese
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Mix all ingredients together and ice the apple cake once it has fully cooled.

(Note: Carly used non-fat cream cheese in the frosting and it worked well.)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Twice Baked Shortbreads and Zucchini, Cranberry, Chocolate Chip Cookies.

This week, I decided I'd take a quick foray back into baking after taking the last three weeks off. Thank you again to all of you who helped me do that.

I love shortbread. That could be the Scottish part of me or the fact that my Grandma used to make amazing shortbread for me when I was a kid, but I love it. I saw Smitten Kitchen's recipe for twice baked shortbread and I was intrigued. It looked like a standard shortbread recipe but the additional baking time should make it crispier. The recipe was really really easy. The hardest part was keeping the melting butter from overflowing the bowl in the microwave. Seriously, the active time making the batter was about 20 mins and then I let it sit for 3-4 hours to set. So easy!
Go here for the shortbread recipe. J had never had shortbread before (besides Girl Scout cookies) and he liked them!


I also have to take this moment to do a little plug for my new tart pan from William Sonoma. For those of you thinking that WS only has expensive things, let me tell you, this amazing tart pan was only $9!!! If you'd like to get your own, check it out here. While I'm on the topic of awesome cooking gadgets, I'd like to take a second to discuss another recent purchase of mine - the 3 tier cookie rack. I don't have a ton of counter space in my apartment and tend to make a lot of cookies at a time. This was the perfect solution for me and I love it.


I always feel that I need to have more than one cookie if I'm serving cookies for dessert night so I looked for a very different type of cookie for my second cookie. Zucchini, Cranberry, Walnut and White Chocolate chip seemed as different as possible from shortbreads and also sounded tasty, so I went with that. However, I modified the recipe slightly based on the ingredients that I had around and had forgotten at the grocery store (oops!). So my cookies turned into just Zucchini, Cranberry and Chocolate Chip cookies. I left the shreaded coconut and walnuts out of the recipe and substituted regular chocolate chips for the white chocolate chips. I think as a result, the cookies were not as sweet as they would have been.
They were definitely tasty. It was nice to have a softer cookie for a change too. Looking to make your own Zucchini, Cranberry, Chocolate Chip Cookies? Check out the recipe here.


All in all, it was a very tasty dessert night. Stay tuned for tiramissu next week in celebration of what would have been my Grandma's birthday!

Friday, October 10, 2008

German Apple Cake

This week's dessert was brought to us by Ms. Carly. She made a totally FABULOUS (fabulous, I tell you) German Apple Cake. Her grandma has had this recipe for many years and it's just delectable.

In order to help all of us stay on our assorted diets, Carly used fat free cream cheese in the frosting. It made it more the consistency of frosting that you drizzle on top of a cinnamon roll instead of the really thick and crusty cream cheese usually found atop good carrot cakes. It added a really light flavor to the apples in the cake. Being the anti-super-sweet-frosting girl that I am, I would have enjoyed perhaps a bit less frosting, but since I'm unusual in this regard, I just didn't eat all of it.

I have asked Carly for her very tasty recipe, but am not sure yet if she's willing to share. All I can say is that you're really lucky if you got to enjoy this wonderful dessert!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Twitter Prepares You for Grad School Apps??

I bet Twitter didn't think that preparing possible MBA students for the B-school applications should be a part of the services they provide, but it's a positive externality of their service. Having just those 160 characters to write your tweet prepares you for the questions where you have 185 characters to describe your activity or organization and your impact while in the group. This would be a rather daunting task without the practice provided by Twitter.

I often start tweeting without really thinking of how to say what I need to. Often I exceed that 160 character limit on my first try and have to actually think about what's most important in my potential tweet and how to say it more tersely. It's that skill of editing on the fly that has turned out to be most helpful for these very short paragraphs on my B school apps.

Who ever thought that Twitter would provide it's users with real world skills? I guess anything's possible. Keep those tweets coming to improve your marketable skills!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Mexican Brownies and Strawberry Rhubarb Tartlettes (again)

Dessert night again enjoyed some yummy desserts care of Pebble Beach Co. This week, we had Mexican Chocolate Brownies and Strawberry Rhubarb Tartlettes. They were very yummy! I really like the Strawberry Rhubarb Tartlettes. For some reason, they are really satisfying to me and aren't too too sweet.

Here's a photo of this week's poster child of dessert night Ryan making tea.


Next week, we will be enjoying a tasty treat from Carly! I can't wait to taste it. Stay tuned for more.

Monday, September 29, 2008

One More Month! AHHHH!!!

One month from today my first grad school app is due!!! AHHHH!! It's rapidly becoming crunch time!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Happy 90th Birthday Grandpa!

Today is my Grandpa's 90th birthday!

It's absolutely unfathomable to believe that someone can possibly be that old (don't tell him I said so). It's totally awesome, just not one of those things that you can accurately grasp, kind of like $1B (how much is that REALLY anyway?).

Anyway, I had a lovely dinner at Mission Ranch in Carmel with my parents, my Grandpa, and my aunt and uncle. Grandpa really enjoyed it and had a great time. Oh and he's going to keep celebrating all year because we got him a subscription to the cookie of the month club so each month he'll be getting another tasty and delectable cookie flavor to try.

Happy Birthday Grandpa! I can't wait for the 100th birthday celebration in another 10 years.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Beard Papas and Fresh Fruit Tart!

I want to start off by thanking Ryan and Tara sincerely for bringing dessert last night. They really could have shown up with anything random that happened to look like dessert and I would have appreciated it. Instead, they showed up with really yummy Beard Papas and a tasty fresh fruit tart with grapes and strawberries on it.

The Beard Papas were in the usual vanilla and chocolate flavors, but they also brought some of their specialty flavor of the night which was strawberry. They were all awesome. For those of you sitting here wondering what a Beard Papa is, it's a delectable cream puff that's filled with a very tasty custard-like cream. They pre-bake the pastry puffs and then fill them as you order them so they're very fresh.
Here's a photo of the dessert night crew enjoying the cream puffs.


I love a good fruit tart. This one was a bit surprising. The inside of the crust was lined with a thin layer of chocolate and the outside of the crust was sprinkled with granulated sugar. It created a very tasty bottom. I would have liked to just eat the crust I think, but then I would have missed out on the rest of the amazing tart. The custard was just sweet enough to make sure that it didn't detract from the fruit and the sweetness of the grapes and strawberries rounded out the flavor.


All in all, it was a very tasty evening! Thanks again to Ryan and Tara for helping me out. Stay tuned for next week's tasty treat.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Forte Foundation MBA Fair

After my first experience at a full blown MBA fair last weekend, I really didn't have many expectations for the Forte Foundation's MBA fair on Tuesday night at the Westin St Francis in downtown SF. I was pleasantly surprised. They had all of the top schools that I was interested in all in one room, great food for those of us who hadn't been home to snag some dinner yet and a really informative presentation.

I got to wander through the ballroom and talk to Admissions staff from Haas, Wharton, Chicago GSB, Fuqua, Kellogg, Sloan and even some more local colleges like Mills and USF. It was great talking to all of the admissions staff and some alumni that they had on hand. I picked up a ton of literature that I will have to read through at some point soon and start plotting my plan of attack.

The presentation that I was able to attend (I missed the second one because of dessert night) was a great reminder of why I think I need/want to go to business school. They had a pannel of 5 women who had all gone to business school for a variety of reasons at a variety of times in their lives, including one who just graduated in May. It was a great reminder how people in all sorts of different places in life and industries can all benefit from a business school education.

All in all, it was a really well put together event that even included prizes (no, I didn't win any sadly). I'm really glad that I attended this event and I really should have just gone to this one instead of the other MBA fair that I went to last weekend.

Way to go Forte!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Dessert Night's First Field Trip

This week, dessert night went on it's first field trip to the new gourmet yogurt store in downtown San Mateo called Yogurtouille.

It was a small group of devoted dessert night goers, but we enjoyed the tasty yogurt. Gingerbread was one of the more popular flavors. I tried the Mounds flavor which was rather sweet and very chocolatey. J tried the tart mango flavor which was like lightly flavored plain yogurt with some mango flavor.

I highly recommend a trip to Yogurtouille if you haven't been yet. It wasn't expensive and got some great tasting yogurt that's even better for you than ice cream.

Monday, September 15, 2008

My First MBA Fair

This past weekend I attended my first MBA fair of this application season. It was put on by the MBA tour and had probably 25-30 schools in attendance. I was a bit disappointed with the organization of the event.

The event was from 8:30-5 and the schedule for the fair wasn't previously available so I showed up at 12:30 thinking that I would be able to wander around the fair for a few hours and talk to the schools I was interested in and then duck back out. This was not the case. The "fair" part where each school had a table in a ball room didn't start until 3pm and until then there were 45 min presentations from the various schools in attendance. The two or three schools that I was really excited to check out had already presented that morning. If I had known this, I would have gotten to the fair sooner.

All in all, not a bad fair experience and I'll know better for my next MBA fair on Tuesday put on by the Forte Foundation.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Chocolate Amaretto Bundt Cake

Recently, I've been making a lot of cookies or other smaller and less dense desserts and it's been a while since we've had a good basic cake. I decided that this week needed to be the week for that cake. Bundt cakes are some of my favorite because they don't have frosting which is a plus since I believe that good cakes don't require frosting and in fact can make the cake taste worse if there is frosting.

Break or Bake recently appeared in my Google Reader with this recipe. I remembered somewhere deep in the caverns of my brain that J loves the flavor of amaretto which is nice since I have to avoid so many recipes because of his dislike of citrus flavored baked goods.

This recipe is really easy, but it has reminded me yet again how much I really would benefit from a mixer. It would be one of those kitchen appliances that would join a select number that constantly take up the small space available on my counter top. The mixer would live right next to the only other appliance that currently hangs out on my counter which is my tea pot. However, I'm not yet willing to make that $300 commitment that would get my the brushed steel KitchenAid mixer of my dreams. In the meantime, J's grandma's hand mixer comes in VERY handy on a weekly basis.

I really thought that this was one of my best desserts. The cake turned out really moist and very flavorful. Neither the chocolate or the amaretto flavor was too overwhelming which was nice.

If you'd like to make your own Chocolate Amaretto Bundt Cake, please go here. I will add pictures of this lovely cake care of Neena and Candace as soon as I receive them from them.

Friday, September 12, 2008

MixMatchCake!

In light of MixMatchMusic's latest accomplishments at Demofall in San Diego. I decided that they needed a little treat to celebrate their major award, DEMOgod. What better way to celebrate them and get out my recent desires for creative pursuits than to make a MixMatchCake!

First off, I have to admit that I totally cheated and used cake mix and pre-made frosting. I did this because I really wanted to decorate the cake and not spend hours making both cake and frosting from scratch. Besides, cake mix always tastes great.

The first challenge of this endeavor was how to make grey frosting for the cake. Luckily, Safeway now carries black food coloring. This was a pleasant surprise because I figured I was going to be making black out of red, yellow, green, and blue food coloring. A possible, but challenging escapade. When you mix enough black food coloring into the frosting to turn it the dark grey of MixMatch's logo, it starts to lose it's sturdy consistency and get more liquidy. This made frosting the cake (or rather getting the frosting to stick where you put it) rather challenging. I can't really offer any pearls of wisdom for getting this to work except persistance! It will go where you want it to eventually.

Here's what it looks like after the first frosting...


To decorate the cake, I used toothpicks, a spatula, butter knife, and a nifty reusable plastic pastry bag and tips that I also found at Safeway. I drew all of the white outlines and white shapes with the pastry bag and then used the toothpicks and knives to spread out the frosting inside, kind of like outlining the shape in the coloring book and then filling it in.

Here's what it looks like after the addition of the MixMatchMan...


After I finished all of the frosting...


I plotted to figure out how to bring this to a restaurant. ChuThis suggested that I go to Whole Foods and see if they'd give me a pastry box. They gave me both a pastry box and one of the gold cardboard thingy's to put under the cake. I had to very precariously transfer the cake from the plate to the cardboard, but luckily all went well. Here's the finished look.

Monday, September 8, 2008

MixMatchMusic Launches at Demo!

Congratulations to J and everyone else at MixMatchMusic for their big launch at Demo today!!!

The press around you guys and the launch so far is wonderful! Check out what CNET and Wired have to say. I can't wait to start framing some of these articles when they come out in the print editions!

Even if you're not a musician, you should check out their site and play around and make some music. It's really fun and easy.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Wakeboarding and Courtney's Wedding

This Labor Day weekend was a busy one. Not unusual for me lately, but definitely even busier than planned. I had planned to split time between Courtney's wedding in Monterey/Carmel and wakeboarding with J and his friend's grandma's house in Rio Vista.

I headed down to Monterey bright and early on Friday morning to take my car in for service and go to my annual dermatologist appointment. Then after some family drama, I got into the wedding spirit and went to Courtney's bridal shower. It was a really fun event and it was great to see a bunch of the girls that I hadn't seen since Courtney's 21st birthday three years ago and meet some new girls as well.

After the bridal shower and some hanging out, I headed up to Rio Vista to meet up with J and our friends up there. Sunday was the day of wakeboarding that was totally awesome. I actually got to stand up for a good bit which was definitely fun. I can't wait to start again next summer.

The fun in the sun time was officially over and J and I headed back to Monterey to get ready for Courtney's wedding. The wedding was held at the Church in the Forest at Robert Louis Stevenson School. It was a relatively simple affair with lots of small children participating in the wedding ceremony. After the ceremony, J remembered that he had a friend from high school who worked at RLS so we headed down to their new student center to see if we could find her. We did find her as all of the faculty and staff were at an event for the new freshman and their families that had just moved in the day before.

The reception was at Mission Ranch in Carmel. It was a beautiful day, 70 degrees with no fog in sight which makes every Carmel venue just a bit more beautiful. We enjoyed champagne on the terrace watching the sheep wander through the fields out back and enjoying the view of the beach. Dinner was pretty tasty and our table mates were a fun assortment of friends from golf and the DJ. It was funny hearing their stories of getting into trouble with the nuns at my high school. Next came the dancing and more champagne and cake. It was great fun dancing with J as usual.

After the bride and groom headed off to their honeymoon suite, the rest of us headed to the after party at one of the groomsman's apartments in Monterey. By that time, we were tired, hungry and tipsy so we didn't stay long, but it was a wonderful end to the evening.

All in all, it was a busy but mostly good long weekend. Check out the pictures on Facebook!

Cookies Galore Plus Strawberry Rhubarb Tartlettes

I was lazy this week. I'll be the first to admit it. With a VERY busy Labor Day weekend, I planned ahead and made a bunch of cookies last week and then reused them this week. If I had any self control, I wouldn't have put out all of the cookies and kept at least one flavor for this week. But I don't have any self control so we got to enjoy all of the cookies all over again.

My mom also snagged some really yummy Strawberry Rhubarb Tartlettes from the First Tee Open that they were working last week. Let me tell you, Pebble Beach Company makes amazing desserts. As usual, these tartlettes were really good. My dad also grabbed some really tasty frosted brownies that he's going to bring by later this week because I forgot them in the freezer at home. I'm sure we'll be enjoying these next week.

Here are some pics with the lovely bouquet that I got from Courtney's reception.


If you're looking for recipes for these cookies, please check out last week's post here.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The MBA Application Season is in Full Swing!!

Yup, it's that time of year. MBA applications are starting to come out and this year's applicants are buckling down to study for their GMATs and get started on their applications.

It has been great fun living vicariously through this time when others have been going through this process previously and now it's my turn. It has been great fun reading the blogs and hearing from friends about their experiences in their first month of business school!
JulyDream, you've got it all under control and thanks for sharing all of your adventures and trials with us!

Recently, I've been buckling down on both my GMAT studying and my applications. I was pleased to see that I had improved almost 100 points from my first practice test to the one that I finished last weekend. This makes me feel a bit better about succeeding on the actual test and motivates me to study more. Thanks to ManhattanGMAT for the free online practice test and analysis!


Now, it's on to applications. Luckily a lot more business schools are accepting GRE scores, which I happen to have for my previous applications to Economics grad schools. I've started with all of that useless information (you know, your name, address, work history) and am starting to give some thought to those all important essays. Fortunately, I now have MS Word on my new mac just in time! Thanks J!

Along with all of the applications and studying, come the MBA fairs. San Francisco is a hotspot for all of these events. Here are some of the ones that I will be checking out in the next couple of weeks:
-Forte Foundation MBA Fair
-World MBA Fair
-The MBA Tour

It's going to be a busy application season, but if it means going to my dream school, then it's totally worth it!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Lots of Cookies

This week, I decided that we should try some of the cookie recipes that I've been saving from all of the dessert blogs that I read. I wanted to finish using the buttermilk that I bought for last week's cobbler, so I had to try the Buttermilk Cookies. Also, I love how easy and yummy bar cookies are so I decided to try the Raspberry Hazelnut Crumble Bars. Finally, everyone loves a little chocolate and peanut butter so I thought I'd try the Chunky Peanut, Chocolate, and Cinnamon Cookies.

I didn't have enough semi sweet chocolate chips for the peanut/chocolate cookies so I threw in some darker chocolate chips. As I dark chocolate lover, I think it adds a really unique flavor to the peanut butter. They were really easy to make and made closer to 4 dozen cookies instead of the daunting 5 dozen forecasted by the recipe.


The Raspberry Hazelnut Bars called for an 8 x 8 pan for the bar cookies. I followed those directions and this resulted in a 2 inch deep cookie. I think next time I will spread out these cookies farther so they are a bit thinner and more the shape of a traditional bar cookie.


The buttermilk cookies were AMAZING. From the moment that the oven started to smell like sweet well made pancakes, I knew I was going to love them. But add a little glaze and I'm head over heals for these little guys. They were so light and cakey and the little bit of glaze on top added just a tad of sweetness that really rounded out the flavor of these cookies. I didn't put the lemon zest in the cookies that the recipe requires but I have a feeling that if you do it will add a whole new dimension to these cookies. It's a really good thing that I put these in the freezer after dessert night otherwise I might have eaten all 3 dozen myself!


The best thing about all of these recipes was that they could all be made either in the Cuisinart or with the hand mixer. It was a quick and dirty baking night. I really appreciate all of Tara's help. This week's dessert night would not have been possible without her. Feel free to check out the links above to make these cookies for yourself.

Here are the boys watching numerous YouTube videos. Notice how the girls have all found something better to do...

Monday, August 25, 2008

Motivation, Fear, Laziness, and Standardized Tests

Standardized tests have always instilled a certain amount of fear into me. Ask me to write 5 essays...no problem. But ask me to choose between those 5 ever so common answer choices and I get that deer in headlights look.

Apparently, when I was younger, I wasn't so fearful of these tests. My mom tells me that I got 100% on the SAT tests that they give to First Graders. Too bad that's not still the case. In high school, the PSAT started the fear because all of my classmates were so terrified of the test and the school tried to tell us that we needed to do well on it or else (not sure what the "else" was but Catholic nuns are good with the whole instilling fear thing). Since that test and especially the SAT which determined your fate for college, I have tended to over think tests and second guess myself, often selecting the correct answer only to change it to a wrong one at the last minute.

The first time I took the GRE, I was so terrified of not scoring above a 750 on the math portion that I probably wouldn't have been able to tell you my name. This resulted in an embarrassing score of 220. It took many months of thinking and cheering and poking and prodding to get me ready to take it again without this terror. Once I relaxed, I did MUCH better!

Given the effort that it took for me to get to a point where I could successfully relax to do well on my last round of standardized testing, it's easy to see how I'm not chomping at the bit to do the same for the GMAT. I don't know if it's laziness or a lack of motivation or just really not wanting to go through that again that makes this so hard for me.

Nonetheless, I continue to try. Last night's GMAT practice test was a lot better than the first one. Now I know that I need a serious review of Geometry, Combinatorics and logical reasoning. I will continue on this trek and hopefully make the process less painful than it was the last time.

(Note: The Oxford Comma has been added for Mr. J and his grammatical and punctuational happiness.)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Happy Quarter Century to Me!

I know it's been a while since all of this insanity has happened, but life's been crazy so I've been a bit too busy to blog about it. But here it goes.

First off, I want to say thank you to everyone for their birthday wishes!!! I really enjoyed hearing from all of you and hanging out with those of you who were able to make it out to either checking out cars in Carmel, Vfest in Baltimore or my birthday night out at Medjool. It has been quite the birthday month!!!
Ok and now all of the details....

First, there was dinner with my parents and a trip to Pebble to hang out with them. It was a great and totally relaxing 24 hours and the first overnight visit for J to my parent's house. Actually, it was the first visit of any boy to my parent's house overnight. But it went well. My parents are helping me beef up on my sweater collection since most of my sweaters from college had to go to the Goodwill. They've been keeping me toasty so far.


Second, J's parents decided to take me out to dinner for my birthday because my parents coincidently took him out to dinner on his birthday last year. We tried Spiedo in San Mateo where I enjoyed a very yummy duck that was much coveted by J. His parents added to my gourmet tea collection with a Earl Grey White Tea that I've been waiting to try as well as a beautiful tea pot with pretty leaves on it.


Next, there was my actual birthday in Baltimore, MD at the Virgin Mobile Music Festival with the MixMatchers who had their own tent at the festival. It was a great fun adventure. We had some time on Friday to hang out in downtown Baltimore and enjoy the crab that they're so famous for and walk along the Chesapeak Bay. At the festival, we saw some awesome bands. Some of my favorite were Foo Fighters, Offspring, Nine Inch Nails and Gogol Bordello. I was disappointed by the showing of Taking Back Sunday. I love their music on Pandora but they didn't sound great live. My birthday was on the first day of the show, so we were all focused on getting the tent set up. That night was also the VIP after party with all of the artists. Our friend Lisa was in charge of planning this great soiree so we got to check it out as well. It was great fun with an open bar and fantastic DJs. It was a little bit too fun later in the evening but still a great time. We had lots of fun dancing and hanging out all weekend. Then on Monday, Lisa took us to Baltimore's Inner Harbor where we got to see the hill where Francis Scott Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner, enjoy more crab and go on a nice walk before a long flight home. All in all, a great way to spend my birthday.


Then, there was my birthday night out at
Medjool. Dinner was great. It was 4 courses of tons and tons of food. It was a bit expensive but it was all good. The music was a little random and difficult to dance to, but it was still fun. Also, the roof deck is awesome. It was a bit chilly in the San Francisco summer weather, but luckily they had heaters. Thanks so much to everyone who came out.

The next day, a group of us made the trek to check out the cars in Carmel on the day before the Concours D'Elegance. It was good fun to check out a bunch of beautiful auction cars. We also saw Jay Leno and Patricia Arquette wandering around the auction cars. We also wandered down and checked out the new cars and the concept cars on display. J almost got to drive one of the new Spykers but he was wearing flipflops so they wouldn't let him. After check out the cars, we wandered into Carmel and met my parents at Il Fornaio for some coffee and then wandered to the ever famous Cheese Shop. We got some totally awesome cheese and then split up to secure the spot for the bonfire on the beach and to get food. The Safeway in Carmel was absolutly gorgeous and we got all of the supplies that we needed. We enjoyed a lovely bonfire on the beach. It was a bit misty but it's was all good. We roasted hot dogs and marshmellows and played the usual game of 10 fingers.

All in all, it's been a really fun birthday month. Thanks again to everyone who's helped me celebrate it. I can only hope that the next quarter century is as fun as this one has been.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Fresh Blackberry Cobbler

Our favorite Mystery Box Farm had flats of blackberries that could be purchased in addition to a mystery box. ChuThis and I shared a flat of delicious berries. They were just awesome. I decided that this week's dessert had to use them because there was no way I was going to be able to get to all of them. I was going to use a cherry cobbler mix that I had because you add cherry pie mix to it so I figured it was the topping, but it had dried cherries in the mix and I didn't want to taint the blackberry flavor with another. I did my usual Google search and came up with a really wonderful recipe that used fresh blackberries.

If I was going to make this recipe again, I'd definitely cut down on the amount of water used in the recipe as it was really watery and I'd probably also cut the butter that's placed in and around the blackberries as well. The crust dough also required a bit extra buttermilk and water to make it really stick together but worked really well in the blender.


If you'd like to make your own cobbler, go here.

We also seem to have added arts and crafts to dessert night. This week, we did macaroni art. Check out some of the masterpieces.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Lemon Crumble Bars

This week's dessert was inspired by Sandra. She had been on a cleanse for over 14 days and had not eaten any wheat, alcohol, caffeine or red meat. I hadn't figured out what I was making for dessert night yet so I thought I'd take some suggestions.

Sandra said that lemon bars and crumble cookies were the things that she missed the most. I did some thinking and the usual Google searching for recipes and happened to come across this recipe for Lemon Crumble Bars. They are a unique combination of a crumble cookie with the filling of a lemon bar in the middle.

They were really tasty and not too tart which was nice. I have no pictures of this week, but I will say that they are really messy cookies. You should be prepared for lots of crumbling. Happy Baking!!

Strawberry, Mango & Blueberry Filled Pavlovas

This post is VERY late considering that I served this dessert on August 5th. I will keep it short and sweet.

Let me just say that pavlovas might just be one of my favorite desserts. They are light and crunchy on the outside and have just a slight chewiness to the inside. They are just slightly sweet but not overly sweet which is my favorite type of dessert.

In addition to being so tasty, these are super easy to make and people think that you did something amazing. They go really well with fresh fruit. Also, they can be flavored (ex. chocolate, strawberry) to add a slightly different twist.

Here's J enjoying one


If you'd like to make your own, go here.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Something to ponder...

I was on the search for a quote for my friend Courtney's wedding book and happen to run across this one...

We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the life that is waiting for us.
-- Joseph Campbell

Just something to ponder on this average Tuesday, especially as I'm trying to stick to an impossible plan.

Monday, August 4, 2008

I Can't Believe It's Already August?!?!?

It's just SOOO insane that it's already August. Were did all of the time go? It feels like it should be the beginning of July or even earlier! I was just starting to stop wearing sweaters to work (ok, maybe not since it's freezing in my office) and all of the summer fun was ahead of us.

Perhaps it's because I use the impending date of my birthday to judge how much summer is left and since it's already this weekend, I'm feeling like this summer is already over. It has been a busy summer. I've been home to Monterey probably about 4 times, maybe more, been to Colorado with J, been to concerts, birthday nights out, eaten tons of crepes at the best crepe stand in the city (thanks Alan for introducing us to it), and we're getting ready to go to Baltimore for the Virgin Mobile Music Festival this coming weekend. All in all, despite the speed at which life is flying at me, it's really good. I really like my new job a lot. I have a great set of friends that I've done all sorts of fun stuff with this summer.

In spite of all of the good things, it is a harsh reminder that I'm rather behind on a lot of the things that I wanted to do this summer. It's good for me to see my friends head off to their new adventures for the school yeah and either start business school, head back to law school or finally join the real world after finishing some sort of post-grad work. I see that perhaps that's something that still might be interesting for me despite the fact that I really have no reason why I want to go to business school anymore and this might not be the right time in my life for what I thought I wanted out of business school (but I'm not going into a philosophical discussion in this post, I promise).

I'm just shocked at how fast this summer's gone! I guess it's time to buckle down and start really making a dent in all of those things that I wanted to accomplish before the summer's officially over.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Officially a Twitterer

So after much resisting that I don't need another web 2.0 application, I was convinced to join Twitter. Apparently many of the crazy thoughts that go through my head are just perfect for sharing on Twitter.

Look for me @lazataz on Twitter.

"Tweet tweet!"

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Chocolate Angel Food Cake and Fresh Raspberries

I was lazy again this week. Yes, I had no excuse like last week and this week I even went so far as resorting to store bought desserts. I am hanging my head in shame right now and promise to do better next week.

Nonetheless, this week we enjoyed a lovely Chocolate Angel Food Cake, care of Safeway's bakery, and some fresh raspberries. Sadly, there are not even pics of this yummy dessert. I was totally slacking this week.

Besides dessert (which was obviously not the focal point this week), Tara brought her newly purchased Tiny Toons DVD that we thoroughly enjoyed along with numerous YouTube videos.

I must also give a shout out to the new people this week! Neena and Kacy joined us. They went to college with Tara and J and I met them at Elizabeth's wedding two weekends ago. We're all glad that they've moved to the Bay Area and joined the Dessert Night clan.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Elizabeth's Wedding and a Weekend in Boulder

J's friend from high school, Elizabeth, got married on Monday in beautiful Lyons, Colorado, which is about 40 mins outside of Boulder. It was a great excuse to spend 4 days in Colorado, though who gets married on a Monday night. I did spend two months working in Denver, but I was excited about the opportunity to actually get out and see some of the state besides the airport and 2 blocks of downtown.

For those of you who are wondering, yes this was my first trip with J that involved a plane, but it wasn't nearly as big of a deal as some people have made it out to be recently. There were 6 of us total who traveled there from SF and then we met up with probably another 5 or 6 of Elizabeth and Tara's friends from college. Luckily, a couple of them just moved back here, so I now have new friends to hang out with here!

We did a fair amount of eating, relaxing, swimming in the hot tub, hanging out, and driving around in a giant Armada that seats 8. It was awesome. I haven't been at my new job long enough to accrue too much vacation time yet, so I worked two half days while in Colorado. That was interesting. I felt like I was constantly missing out on things both with work and fun stuff that was going on and I spent the entire day glued to my BlackBerry which is something that I don't like to do.

There are a number of fabulous stories from the weekend and lots of funny things to laugh at from David requiring ear plugs and an eye mask for a 2 hour flight to the great picture riddles that Theresa drew on both flights ("you make my heart tsunami" was my personal fav). David drank out of a fountain and didn't at all remember the next morning. But perhaps the funniest thing of the weekend was that after drinking out of the fountain, David yells, in front of everyone, to "throw that shit" to Elizabeth because she was holding a bouquet. Little did David know that about 3 hours earlier, Elizabeth tossed her bouquet and her sister-in-law's sister (not sure what that makes her), Anna, caught the bouquet.

All in all, it was a really great weekend. There was a good amount of fun, enough work to get by and a good amount of relaxation too (and LOTS of reading for J...I still can't believe that he finished 4 books in 4 days). You should definitely check out the plethora of pictures on Facebook if you haven't already seen them. I just included a few at the beginning of this post that shows some of the highlights from the main events. Now it's back to the usual...well, until the next weekend of insanity.

Up next, river rafting...