Saturday, January 24, 2009

What's Up Home Fry?

As some of you know, I am in the beginning stages of possibly trying to open my own cafe. This means lots of menu planning, business ideas, decorating ideas...you get the point. Yesterday I worked on my breakfast menu. While I getting opinions from the people who matter the most to me, I was told that home fries (or hash browns) makes or breaks a cafe that serves breakfast. I don't disagree. There are literally hundreds of way you can make home fries-which got me thinking about how YOU would want them if you came to my cafe. So, why don't you tell me? Pick up to 2 choices below. If none of the options fit, leave me a comment!

Frothy Yellow Lakes

I woke up this morning and chuckled to myself about a particular dream I had last night. Though there are several parts to the dream, here is a really strange excerpt...it involves one of my blog friends, Melisa (the one who sent me the pickle chips!) who is a spin instructor.

There was a televised contest that took place outside of a hotel in the downtown area of an unknown location. The contest was to see who could whip air into egg yolks the fastest. People worked in teams of 2. Whoever made the yolks come together first and who reached a certain shade of pale yellow won.

Melisa and her husband were a team and then a couple of my friends from my old job and a bunch of people I don't know. I'm not sure exactly what the prize was but I think it was money. The entrance fee to be in the contest was $12.50.

Here is the really strange part: teams were not whipping the eggs with their hands and a whisk. Instead, they were using paddle boats. Yup. In a huge lake of egg yolks!! (I have no idea) Being that Melisa is a spin instructor, her team was really far ahead for a while, but then another team came up behind them. (This part I don't understand-the dream must have turned into a race to the finish, instead or a race to whip eggs-but the whole time, teams were still in yolks, never water.) When they got really close behind it looked like they were about to quit because they knew they couldn't beat Melisa. So Melisa turned around and started encouraging the peddlers, telling them that they could do this and that it was just a little further. She did this while making sure you were still in front, of course.

There was a commentator and he started talking about Melisa's spin classes and how it's clearly the major factor in her teams success. That part of the dream ended with people walking into the hotel to watch her collect the prize.

Where would this dream come from? The only thing I can think of is that yesterday I was immersed in making a breakfast menu for a cafe which consisted heavily of eggs. Initially I had egg whites on the menu, and then took them off and then put them back on after someone pointed out that they should be there. I then began racking my brain about what desserts I could feature that rely heavily on yolks so they would not go to waste.

The next part of the dream involved my family going to Miami on my birthday without me. I like the egg yolk part of the dream better! At least in this one I didn't need any spider traps.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

What's Cookin? Whole Wheat Pizza Dough (

Recently I have been thinking about, well, a lot of things. One of the main things I've been thinking about though, is eating more healthy. I did really well with this for a while after my Dad's heart surgery, but then slowly fell back into not caring (well, that's not 100% true-it's just easy to fall off the wagon). Now that I have more time at home, it's gotten increasingly harder to stay the course. Being bored is usually when I fall prey to eating bad stuff, and being unemployed translates into being bored.

See the dilemma?

So this week, I started hunkering down, and though I've been out to dinner at friends houses (or hosting a "party" at my place) every night this week, I've been mindful of what's gone into my body and how many calories it costs. Tonight for dinner, I tried a new recipe for whole wheat pizza dough.

Initially I was not really interested in trying whole wheat dough. I thought that it might be dry or that it would make the pizza taste too...healthy. But knowing that it is healthier than white flour pizza dough, I decided to give it a try-and I'm glad I did. The dough couldn't be easier to make. It came together perfectly, rose well and rolled out beautifully. It crisped up the way I like it (I made it thin) and didn't taste grainy or...wheaty, if that makes sense. It was only a tad bit sweet and really was quite delicious. Best of all, it's low in fat and calories. Here is the recipe.

Ingredients:
1 C. Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 Pkg Active Dry Yeast
3/4 t. Salt
1/2 C. Hot Water (120 - 125°F)
1/2 T. Olive Oil
1/2 T. Honey


Method:
1. Dissolve yeast in hot water.
2. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add wet & combine to form a dough. Lightly knead it and form a ball.
3. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and keep in a warm spot. Allow to rise for 30 minutes-1 hour until desired rise is achieved.
4. Roll dough to desired thickness. Place on a greased pan, or an ungreased pizza stone. Top with sauce and cheese and bake at 450 for 15-20 minutes.

584 Calories (146/serving)
8 g Fat (2 g/serving)
4 Servings

I topped my pizza with:
1 C. Spinach, Sauteed
1 Clove Garlic
1 T. Olive Oil
1 C. Diced Tomatoes
1/4 C. Feta Cheese
1/4 C. Part-Skim Lowfat Mozzarella
Red Pepper Flakes
Black Pepper

This added 309 calories (77.25/serving) and 24 g fat (6 g/serving). If you want to cut out more fat, do not saute your spinach in olive oil-simply steam it until it wilts.

I should also tell you that the original dough recipe was double what I posted. I like thick crust every now and then, but only when it's a cheesy gooey mess, really. Plus, I live alone and thought that the whole recipe would be too much-but if I had company and needed 2 thin crust pizza's, I'd make the whole recipe.

Yum. Eating healthy was good to me today.

Remember These?

Home made Marshmallows...sooo sooo good!


Aunt Carol's Rum Cake-AWESOME!


Golden Cupcakes w/ Chocolate Buttercream


Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting


Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls-wicked addicting!


They're lonely, and are looking for a good home with hungry bellies. :) Remember, if you don't want these sweets in the house, someone you love might get great joy out of a surprise gift!

Best of all, if there's something you're craving but you don't see it on my shop, send me an email! I'm happy to take special requests. All I ask though, if you do request something, please be sure you can purchase the item. Though it's not very expensive, it does cost me money to put up a new item.

I am working on special Valentine's Day treats...it's just around the corner you know!

My etsy shop

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Randomivity


It's hard to write a randomivity post each week when you can't remember what day it is.

Having friends who check up on you when they know you are down is a blessing. It's even more of a blessing when they check in to say hi for no reason.

Having other friends who are also unemployed makes me feel not so bad about myself. Not because I want them to suffer and be poor, but because it's good to know that someone else isn't taking a shower or getting dressed. :)

I'm pretty sure that a naked cafe would not pass inspection, but I'm also pretty sure that it might make some money.

No, I am not seriously thinking of having a naked cafe, though some of my friends would like me to!

I hate missing people. I know that you can't have everyone you care about around you all of the time, but it would be nice.

Gnocchi expand after you eat them.

There should be a Charmin store in every city & it should definitely not be seasonal. And we should apparently be wiggling when we poop.

You may not agree or support Obama, but it's hard to deny that yesterday was inspiring. Look at all of the different types of people that came together to celebrate this great time in our history.

I love teaching people how to cook. Especially when they love it too.

I need to learn how to be more direct. It's a major character flaw of mine and it will soon get me into trouble.

I want to take a trip to Tuscany and am seriously considering just doing it. That wouldn't be a good idea though, when going to see about a loan for a cafe, would it?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Wedding Planning

I don't have any Toosdae ?'s for you today. I actually just forgot to blog last night and right now, I just don't feel like thinking of questions. Sorry! Maybe tomorrow.

Part of the reason I forgot to blog last night was I went to my friend Jess's house for dinner. She's one of my friends from my old job, so I was very excited to visit with her. I haven't seen her in almost 2 months because she was away on vacation when the lay offs happened. In any case, she got engaged on New Year's Eve (or day, I don't remember for sure) and wanted to get together to talk about menus and stuff. At first she asked me to cater her wedding, and though I was flattered, I had to tell her that it probably wasn't the best idea, since she's getting married in Ohio. Though I would probably have tried to make it work if she insisted, it just doesn't make sense for this to happen. It would end up costing her way too much money (b/c I'd have to "rent" staff as well as a cooking space, etc.). So instead, we talked about menus.

Jess wants a classic wedding but something with a twist. Not just the "normal" beef, chicken, fish type choices. I don't blame her, but she really had no ideas. Her and her fiance have traveled all over the world, and so we thought maybe incorporating that would be a fun idea. I asked her where she's traveled and started with that list. We then worked on appetizers that might work with her top 5 favorites. We came up with a few, but I told her that she'd have to find a really flexible chef who'd be willing to go off menu-in other words, cook something they don't usually serve at their venue.

So we went in another direction-a garden party theme. She found a really simple, pretty cake that has butterflies on it and she really loves it. So I thought of some recipes and dishes that were "dinnered up" from a garden party (lunch). I suggested a stuffed chicken with maybe feta and herbs, a salmon en papillote (instead of a poached salmon dish-she loved this one), and a grilled flank steak with a fruit salsa of sorts. For the vegetarian meal she really hates the idea of a pasta dish-so we found a really nice tart that could be a good option. All of these things are not so crazy off menu that the chef will balk at her-though it still might be a bit of a negotiation session. But if she finds the right venue that is really looking to make her wedding special, I think this might just work.

In the next couple of days I'm going to be pricing out these items we talked about so she has some idea of what they should charge her. The prices will of course differ, but at least she'll know if they come back with a $50 price tag that they'll really be trying to take advantage of her.

So...that's what I'm up to. Nothing special, but it's something. How about you?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Manic Monday: Office

I'll be honest, today, I am down. Not like, suicidal down, don't worry...just sort of wondering why I should even get up today. Today is just like any other day. Get up, do nothing. I mean, I get dressed, clean up, go for walks, and until last week, did some baking but now it's just like I am waiting. I don't have an office to go to or people to see everyday. In fact, I usually now go almost everyday without even speaking one word. It's pretty F&^%$#@ annoying.

As for the job search-I apply to everything that's posted now. The trouble is, no one really hires for themselves anymore-they all use recruiters and the recruiters post jobs up that are not necessarily open. They may have been at one point, but they've been filled-they just put them back up to get people in. Which is great, except now my resume is out there with at least 10 different recruiters along with every other person in Boston. No good.

It's exactly 1 month ago today that I was laid off. It's not a good feeling, knowing that you're more than capable of doing any and all of the jobs you've applied for but also knowing that here you sit like a bit fat bump on a log just waiting. *sigh*

Today my office will be my kitchen because I do have 2 things to ship out by the end of the day. And then....

?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Menu Planning

I'm putting together another menu for a 3 day seminar I'm catering in CT the first week in February. One portion of the menu is sandwiches, which I've never served at a catering event before. This is OK because well, they are easy, but I'm having trouble narrowing it down! So far what I came up with are:

Chicken Salad w/ Walnuts & Red Grapes, served on a croissant

Black Forest Ham & White Cheddar with Apple Butter served on French Bread

Tomato, Basil & Fresh Mozzarella served on Ciabatta

Roast Beef w/ Lemon Basil Mayo & Roasted Red Onions, on ciabatta

What do you think?