Dessert for breakfast

It’s a strawberry
         I’m in charge of making breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a couple days. And being the wonderfully organized girl that I am . . . I spent the morning of my first breakfast (which would be yesterday) scribbling on an old envelope. Okay, so I forgot to make a menu. So sue me. Using my orange, thin-tipped marker, I wrote as many breakfast, lunches, and dinners as I could think of that we had ingredients for. (Speaking of which, where did I put that envelope?) Now that I had a list assuring that we wouldn’t starve for the next couple days, I started off slow. Frozen burritos for lunch. Hey, writing a massive list all morning really takes the energy out of a person. But I made it up to my family by dinnertime, though, with ravioli and garlic cheese bread biscuits. Extra cheese. Maybe extra garlic, not sure. And oh, they were good.

         Jeez, doesn’t the next meal come quickly? It’s insane. I went to sleep, woke up, and magically, it was breakfast time again. Now, I’m not a morning person. . . at all. Ask anyone in my family (only if you want assurance) they have various names for me in the morning: “cup of sunshine”, “the little sweetheart” all sarcastic remarks. Anyway, somehow, through my half-shut eyes and zombified brain, I came up with the best breakfast ever. Strawberry shortcakes! Ah-ha! Bingo.

        I made the strawberry shortcakes from Bisquick. We have an awesome Bisquick cookbook with all these great recipes. I absolutely suggest (especially if Bisquick is as regular in your home as meat in a steakhouse) that you buy this book or rent it from the library. Even though we only had a little Bisquick left from my garlic cheese bread, I was able to come up with the necessary amount for the shortcakes.
Does that look good or what! Oh yeah.
         Well, according to me, they were delicious. I layered the shortcakes as cake, strawberries, whipped cream, cake, strawberries, whipped cream like the picture in the book. And it looked exactly the same. My desserts almost never looks like the picture, but this one did! The cake was sweet and thick, the strawberries tart, and the whipped cream . . . whippy. It was even filling. I could barely finish mine.
         My brothers thought otherwise, I’m afraid. Little brother barely touched the shortcake and picked out the strawberries. And older brother didn’t like the fact that the shortcake was crunchy and chrumbly. Granted, the cake was destined to crumble. But it was still good. Call it what you will. I say success. One says failure. One says work-in-progress. I’m going with success.
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Bravery, Optimism, and Chocolate

         I have a very brave friend. Very brave. And optimistic. And this brave and optimistic friend asked me (of all people) to make a dessert for her sixteenth birthday. It took about a minute of laughing hysterically before I realized it wasn’t a joke. Well, okay then. I said I’d do it.
         We brainstormed for days. Strawberry shortcake wouldn’t work because the drive was too long and the strawberries would shrivel up. For a handful of random reasons, other desserts wouldn’t survive either. We came up with and scratched off several ideas. All the while, though, I have to say that I knew chocolate was the winner. But my brave (and sadly no longer optimistic) friend worried that the guests would be overwhelmed by the chocolate, “there’s going to be a chocolate fountain. And the table cloths are even chocolate colored.” Personally, I thought that sounded cool. But okay, gotta keep the hostess happy.
         The last request of desperation I got was something about fudge. I’m sorry, dear friend, but no. Fudge simply wouldn’t do the trick. It must be delicious, dainty (it was a fancy party), and absolutely perfect. Not just some crummy old fudge. Fudge works for any other occasion, but not this one. I had to take matters into my own hands. Must save my wonderful, brave, and optimistic friend!
         I hit the grocery store with absolute concentration and determination. Nothing could get in my way — except for the woman hogging the Oreo isle with a shopping cart and a loose three year old who was running wild. I swiftly grabbed the Oreo cookies, cleverly stashed two more boxes of vanilla cookies, and heroically snagged a couple packages of cream cheese.  Everything else I needed was at home so I whooshed to a line to purchase my spoil. It was pretty epic.
         I would make two variations of the same dessert: chocolate bon-bons, one made with regular milk chocolate (my friend was in denial, I had to save the brave soul) and another with white chocolate (I didn’t want to lose the friendship of the brave soul either).
         The dessert is really easy. It just takes forever. You have to scrape the filling from all the cookies, then turn the cookies into dust. It takes even longer than forever when the darn blender won’t break up the cookies like it should. I used a mallet to do that at one point, once upon a time. Talk about taking forever. Anyway, I got myself into a rhythm and it went semi-smoothly.
         Scrape Oreo cookies, crumble (is that how you say it? Well, you catch my drift), pour on cream cheese, mix in until completely combined, no cream cheese chunks, roll into balls, dip in chocolate, drizzle with two stripes of white chocolate, place closely on wax paper without touching. Scrape vanilla cookies, crumble, pour on cream cheese, mix in, roll into ball, dip in white chocolate, drizzle with two stripes of milk chocolate, place closely together on wax paper. Now, spending more than two hours in a kitchen, doing the same thing repeatedly can do something to a person, and it isn’t pretty. So, if you plan on taking longer than two hours on any little thing, don’t schedule any dates or good-impression-dinners because you won’t want to see anyone. No one. Zip. Everyone you look at will appear nauseatingly like work. Not to mention, every minor thing will irritate you. So no hot dates (unless, of course, you want to scare him away. Then by all means. . .)

         I left the bon-bons in the refrigerator over night and in the morning, put them in the freezer so they could turn into chocolate ice cubes then thaw out on the drive to the party. Perfect plan. While my little angels where freezing, I ran some errands, came home, changed into fancy clothes, and stuck some bobby pins in my head. That’s when I realized I was running late. I started running around the house in my long skirt and heels, grabbing a birthday card here, looking for tissue paper there. An elegant mess. I had to hold the hem of my skirt like the women back in the “Little House on the Prairie” days. Scrambling into the garage where the freezer was, I opened the door and grabbed the cookie tray, brimming with my beauties. Two seconds later, I realized my fingers were burning. Burning, sticking, scorching. The metal was so cold, it bit me. With that to say, be careful with frozen metal. It hurts. A lot.
      Well, in the end, I found that the stripes I drizzled had frozen together across the bon-bons, and a couple were choco-glue combined because they were place too close together. But I used a knife to separate them, and eventually everything came apart. I ended by placing them in a spiral of white and brown on a round plate. It turned out beautifully, praise God. My friend’s mom even told me that she thought they were store bought. I also didn’t hear anyone complain nor were there any 911 calls, so YES! Chalk one up for success!
(PS. sorry I don’t have a picture. I was in such a hurry, taking a snapshot never crossed my mind. Can’t win ’em all.) 

Experimenting With Cupcakes

         I somehow got it in my head that I wanted to make my own cupcake flavors. I had all these ideas that I was meaning to test out. All I needed was a boring cupcake recipe to start from. Well, I’m not one to change my mind once it’s set. So after quite a long time researching on the Internet (because it seems no one in the world has a plain recipe), I finally found one that was good enough. Here’s a link: ://recipes.lovetoknow.com/wiki/Basic_Cupcakes_Recipe
         Recipe in hand, I hit the kitchen. I followed the instructions perfectly, “cream the butter and sugar, add the beaten eggs (I know, it’s kind of a killer to use four of them), and sift the flour and baking powder”, then I tossed in my extras. The winning combination: cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. I had no idea what I was doing. I used them in pumpkin bread before and . . . yeah, that was about the extent of my knowledge when it came to these spices. Okay, moving on.

         Half a teaspoon of cinnamon didn’t seem like enough, so I added another scoop, and since nutmeg and ginger were strong spices to begin with, I only put 1/4 of each and mixed it in. Lookin’ good. Oh, so you know, there aren’t any bake times on the recipe, but I found that 350 degrees for 13 minutes did the trick.

         Now, cupcakes aren’t cupcakes without frosting. Guess what I picked for my spice-cupcakes. Pause for effect. Cream cheese frosting! (http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/cream_cheese_frosting/) Ohhhhh yeah. Nothing better.
       I thought that using a whole package of cream cheese was a little much, so I only used half. Oh, by the way, tasting the cream cheese after you put in the vanilla may be tempting, but don’t try it. It’s disgusting, believe me. I think that blast of nastiness messed up my taste buds because from then on, my excited-about-cream-cheese-frosting fire, died. Sad, I know.

       I read somewhere that you can tell a cupcake is done if it springs back from your fingertips. My excitement grew. The cupcake performed that trick beautifully. I took the first batch out of the oven and waited a bit for them to cool off before sinking my teeth in . . . Mmm, I’m in love. Moist, spongy goodness. Est parfait! Se magnifique. I was caught secretly loving on a cupcake, and immediately, my family started asking if they could have one. I must have made it look good. Hey, I should be on a commercial. Well, my excuse for delaying my families eating time was that I hadn’t frosted them yet. So if they wanted cream cheese frosting (which I knew they did) they’d have to wait.

       Ducking down, I scooped some frosting and smeared it on my cupcake to try. Not bad, not bad. The only problem with the cupcake was that it didn’t taste very much like spices. I don’t know, maybe it was just me. Mom said that it had too much ginger for her. So, I guess we each have our own opinion. Next time, I’m going to try more cinnamon. The frosting was pretty strong, I felt like it took away the spice taste. But Dad, my dessert proffesionair, told me that the frosting was good and, if anything, the cupcake needed more of it. That was good enough of a reason for me. I spread frosting over each cupcake. They were beautiful.
         My only complaint, except for the fact that I didn’t feel they were spice-y enough, was that the frosting was weird the next day. Kind of gooey, thick, and sticky instead of the creamy lightness it was before. The only thing I could think of that could have cause it was that I stored them in the microwave overnight. I don’t know how that goes with the health code or whatever, but they usually don’t last more than two days, and they’re safe from the cat behind closed microwave doors. But that was it. All in all a success. Bet you didn’t see that one coming.