Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Chocolate Cherry Cake Squares

Cherries are a wonderful and yummy summer fruit. ChuThis and I have been talking about cherries a lot since she and our other friend T got 10 lbs. of cherries from the Mystery Box farm a couple of weeks ago. (They were AMAZING cherries btw.) Also, cherries are pretty much a sure fire way to make sure I'm on J's good side as they are his favorite.

With all of these thoughts of cherries on my mind and no recipe for dessert night as of Monday morning, I embarked on a Google search for recipes with cherries. It was this search that brought me the Chocolate Cherry Cake recipe. Given how popular Cherry M&Ms have been with my circles this summer (if you haven't tried them yet, I highly recommend that you do), I have really enjoyed the flavors of chocolate and cherry together.

I'm slightly embarrassed to say that after all of this discussion of fresh cherries, I did use frozen ones in this recipe. It didn't matter as it was still very good. This is a really easy recipe to make. Just remember to soak the cherries in sugar and almond flavoring before you're ready to make the cake. I did soak the cherries for about 4 hours instead of the recommended 2, but I'm not sure that it made a difference for the flavor. I also didn't do the powdered sugar on top of the cake squares as I've never been a fan of powdered sugar. But it can help the visual appeal of a less than perfect baked good.

Sadly, there are no photos this week as I was in such a hurry to get dessert on the table and it was so popular that it went quickly. I'll have to be sure to get back on the photos for next week.

Want to make your own Chocolate Cherry Cake Squares? Here you go...

Monday, June 23, 2008

The GMAT Giant

Ok so the title of this post is mildly misleading because the GMAT is big, but hundreds of thousands of people have survived and overcome this giant so it is not insurmountable.

As a college senior, I somehow managed taking the GRE, the grad school application process, 2 theses and a host of other fun and academic related things so I know that it's definitely possible for me to still have fun, get my work done and do well on the GMAT. Nonetheless, balance in life is hard when you try to do everything.

Looking around at the world more since college, I've seen lots of really successful who don't work at maximum capacity and tons of sort of successful people who put in little to no effort at all. This has allowed me to start to relax my idea of what hard work really is or how time consuming it has to be. Also, for the last 5 months, I've been only working a 40 hour week which was something really unusual to me. I really didn't have the option of working more if I wanted to mostly because there was no more work to do and if there was work, it was boring so I didn't want to do it. This left lots of free time for fun so the balance in life has swung towards "life" instead of work.

Now, I'm back in a job where I could work 24/7 if I wanted to. At the moment, I'm still enjoying my "life" so don't want to work too much. But now GMAT and grad school applications need to make their way into that life. I know that I will have to make sacrifices and not be able to do everything to buckle down and study for the GMAT. I know I can do it, but I've always hated missing out on fun things.

The GMAT isn't insurmountable, but it definitely means that key sacrifices will need to be made. I just have to keep looking at the end goal of 2 great years in grad school, but first I have to tackle the GMAT Giant.

It's all about finding that balance between things that need/have to be done and the things that I want to do. But, that's life and we all keep learning.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Almond Apricot Frangiopane Tartlets

This week, I was looking for something fast and easy that involved one of the great summer fruits that are in season now. Apricots are one of my favorite fruits for just a quick snack but I don't generally cook with them because they don't last that long in the fruit bowl. Since I bought these about an hour before I made the tarts, I didn't have time to eat all 9 apricots, leaving some for the tarts.

This recipe does include a recipe for pastry dough, but since I didn't have quite the right equipment, I used the ever trusty Pepperidge Farm pastry sheets. The almond frangiopane recipe is really easy. Just throw everything in the Quisinart and you're done. You should note that the frangiopane recipe makes a TON more than you need for these tarts.

In case people didn't like or were allergic to almonds, I made some tartlets without frangiopane and some with. Both were really good. Surprisingly, everyone liked the almond ones and the almond flavor didn't overpower the apricot flavor which was nice as well.

Here are some photos the tarts. You can find the recipe here.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Officially a Corporate Monkey

Yesterday, I officially became a corporate monkey at my new job. I finally got a corporate issue Blackberry 8700. For those of you SmartPhone junkies, this appears to be the most basic of SmartPhones. It has no cool trackball like the Blackberry Curve and is definitely massive! (I feel like I'm talking on a pancake when I am on the phone.

I have to admit as someone who's been resisting SmartPhones since I joined the work force 3 years ago, it's not as bad as I thought. The first thing I did was download Google Maps and Google Talk for Blackberries and that definitely helped my perception of the device. The Google Talk app is very cool and rather usable. Ironically, almost everyone who talks to me on IM on my phone couldn't call me if they wanted to as it is supposed to be a purely work phone. I did resist the urge to get Blogger for my phone. I figured it would be vastly faster to just blog at my computer since I type SOOO slowly on this thing.

It has been mildly handy so far, so I will resist making negative comments. It's just an opportunity for me to say no to work even when it's so convenient.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Fresh Berry Tart

Since I was on vacation, I decided to undertake a slightly more challenging dessert this week. I wanted something that was light and summery with how hot it has been. When I was catching up on my Google Reader reading, I found a recipe for a fresh berry tart that sounded particularly yummy. I'd get to use the great summer berries which are generally my favorite on fruit tarts anyway.

I found red raspberries, blackberries and golden raspberries (yes, there are yellow raspberries and they're not a mythical fruit!). I also got blueberries, but decided to be selfish and keep them all for me. (If you ever really want to make me very happy, get one of those gigantic containers of blueberries from Costco. I will love you forever.)

This recipe is actually quite easy to make. It just has several steps. The cream is quite quick on the stove. Just make sure to keep whisking. As for the crust, it didn't turn out like I thought it would. It was very crumbly and tasted like shortbread. I think that next time I will either add a bit more water to the dough or wait a bit after taking it out of the fridge so it can defrost a bit.

All in all, it was really yummy. Please drool over the pics...

I had to take them quickly before people munched!

To make your own, go here.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

It's Been a While

So, it's been quite a while since my last blog and since I haven't been working I really have no excuse for not blogging. Lots of things have happened...

My last day at Genentech was 5/30. I'm very excited to be done and moving on to newer and better things. Really the only things that I miss are several of my co-workers and most of all my MacBookPro. But my own MacBookPro is in the mail, so I will have my own soon!

Immediately after ending my adventures at Genentech, I started to move into my new apartment and that's where the drama started. My new landlord was relatively unreasonable about getting things fixed and refused to clean the apartment. She kept claiming that she was used to dealing with "adults" who were more mature. Luckily, I was able to sign a new lease for my old apartment and get out of my lease with her so I didn't have to deal with that drama for a whole year.

While some of that apartment drama was getting fixed, I hung out at home in Pebble Beach with my parents and chilled, went to yoga and generally hung out. That was a very nice change of pace and good that I was totally away from everything that was happening here so I couldn't worry about it as much. Sadly, my great Aunt passed away at the beginning of my vacation, so the second half of the week was spent traveling to and attending her funeral. It was definitely sad, but she'd been rather lost since her husband passed away 4 years ago and it was a good opportunity to reconnect with some family that we hadn't seen in a while.

J and I went to Live 105's BFD on Saturday and got to hang out and hear some great tunes and chill amidst dealing with some of the challenges of the venue like ATMs without cash and the lack of a lawn for relaxing. It was definitely a good day, but a tiring one.

The last three days of my vacation have been probably the best because I really got to exist in a relaxed state. I spent the first week getting to that state and then have gotten to enjoy it. I got to do some things around my apartment, besides unpacking, that I've wanted to do for a while and got to catch up on my movies and tv too.

Somewhere in the vacation mix was a chill dessert night of ice cream sundaes (thanks to L1 for all of the supplies). There are no pictures unfortunately, but I promise I will get back into formal blogging mode for tonight's dessert night.

All in all, it's been a really great and relaxing vacation. I'm very excited to start at E2Open tomorrow and it's been really really good for me to get a lot of that tension out of my system so I can start my new adventures totally relaxed.