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'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.