Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I'm running Boston...and yeah, it's crazy!

Happy fall, y'all! 

So, it's been a while since I've blogged...but I'm back!!  And with exciting news.... I am running the 2013 Boston Marathon!!  Crazy, I know, but I am going to fundraise for an amazing cause and run in April.  My plan is to fundraise for Neurofibromatosis, Inc., Northeast, an organization that supports awareness, research, and promoting treatment and a cure of the genetic disorder affecting the nervous system.

Stay tuned for more info on some fundraising events and ways to donate!

Happy Running!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Gates Pond (nature walk)

Ok, it's been a while since I have posted any snapshots....and this weekend I (finally) got out to explore my new neighborhood.  I took a walk on the trail around Gates Pond, the reservoir that supplies Hudson's drinking water supply.  It was a blue sky breeezy day, and perfect.  Here are some pictures I took....

A 30th birthday cupcake!

So, it's been a few weeks since I posted (and baked!) and I wanted to catch up.  My posts have been mainly baked goods, so before you think that all I do is bake and eat sweets, I AM going to post pictures today too!  I hadn't snapped many pics lately, and this weekend I took a stroll around the local reservoir and experimented a bit with my trusty image catcher! 

But first - sweet deliciousness!  My sis-in-law (to be) turned 30 last weekend, and while she and my brother were away attending their first (of many) wedding of the season, I was the puppy-sitter for my adorable, furry, four-legged nephew. We walked, played, got into mischeif, and I managed to fit in some baking for them to come home to. 

I channeled my Great Grammy Conlon for this one. I used her from-scratch chocolate cake recipe.  Now Gram passed when I was a senior in high school, and at her services, the relatives made sure that everyone got a copy of Gram's chocolate cake recipe.  That's the thing in my family - recipes are our memories. Memories of cooking in someone's kitchen, laughing, getting flour everywhere.  Yeah, it sounds like a Lifetime movie, but these are our memories. See, my mom can sew and cook like no one's business, and my grandmother is an amazing craftwoman with a pair of knitting needles.  I feel badly that I never perfected either of these crafts.  Then a cousin said something to me - "Gram would be proud of you, you know? Keeping up with the baking...and gardening."  Then it hit me - that's what I am carrying down and passing on.  My Great Gram's love for baking and gardening.  And I am ok with that.

Ok, ok...without further adieu - Gram's Chocolate Cake recipe (in cupcake form) with espresso buttercream frosting.  Behold.....

The cake mix...secret ingredient: sour milk (milk + vinegar). Shhhhh...

I made them a little oversized.

Frosted, with espresso buttercream and ready for a little somethin'... a little decoration and some burgandy chunks. Yup. I'll eat 'em!


Friday, April 20, 2012

Sexy and I Know It - Bruce Springsteen & Jimmy Fallon as Neil Young

Possibly one of the funniest parodies. ever. I love that someone with the fame that Bruce has had for so long still doesn't take himself *too* seriously. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Joys of Easter!

One of the most vivid memories I have from my childhood is going to my grandparents' house on Easter and realizing that the Easter Bunny stopped there too!! Oh, the joy of devouring Peeps, jelly beans, chocolate eggs, and the list goes on! Part of the Easter celebration always included a Peep Cake, baked by my grandmother. She would make an angel food cake, frost the top with her homemade buttercream frosting, and LOADS of Peeps. Every variety and color was represented - along with many jelly beans, chocolate eggs, and any other confection that would send all of us kids into a sugar high for days.

This year, I made something similar - Peep cupcakes! I used Pillsbury Funfetti cake mix (I cheated, I know!) and Grammy's homemade buttercream frosting. Then, I topped each cupcake with a Peep (traditional yellow chicks and a more modern green bunny) and some jelly beans.

Little Peep Cakes

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

This explains so much.... why I could eat truck loads of super sharp cheddar, and than be riddled with guilt and a cheese "hangover" the next day. (Maybe I do need cheese rehab...) :) 

Culinarily Curious: Addicted to cheese? Here's why.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Breakfast Muffins - Lots of banana goodness!!

I have been following the blog for several weeks, and have read some GREAT workout tips (I am trying to beat my abs into submission before the summer!).  Last week I saw this post for a muffin recipe - LifePlusFitness.COM: Breakfast Muffin

I love to try new recipes (hence, a topic for my blog) and the muffins seemed pretty healthy, so last night I gave them a whirl.  They came out awesome!  I had a few bananas that were edging past their prime, so they were nice and easy to mash up.  I didn't use carrots, however, because I didn't have any in the house, so I modified the recipe a bit by using a full cup of applesauce.  I love the smell of the cinnamon/nutmeg/ginger combo, and my place was full of that spicy scent when I baked last night. 

Here is the original recipe - LifePlusFitness.COM: Breakfast Muffin

And here is the version that I made (very similar!)

*One warning, I am not sure how using more applesauce affected the calorie count if you are counting cals, sorry I don't have an accurate amount!
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 1/4 cups oatmeal
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 cups ripe bananas, mashed (I used 4 and it worked out well)
  • 1 cup applesauce (I used the unsweetened kind - less sugar!)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temp.
Preheat oven to 375*. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with papers, or spray with cooking spray.

Combine the first 7 ingredients (flour through spices) in a large bowl. Stir to blend well. 

In another bowl, combine everything else (bananas through buter). Stir until it is combined well. I used the fork I used to mash the bananas and it blended everything pretty well.

Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and sirt until combined well (the batter will be pretty lumpy).

Fill the muffin cups about 3/4 of the way full.  Bake at 375* for about 20 min.  These are a hearty muffin, so when they are done, they will spring back a bit when you push on the tops.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Bruce Springsteen-Tenth Avenue Freeze Out Boston March 26, 2012

An epic performance by The Boss & Co. last night.... unspoken tributes to Big Man and Dan induced goosebumps. Amazing.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Lonely Planet’s 10 best food hotspots of the world

I had to share...I love trying new cuisine wherever I go, and the Lonely Planet has amazing resources whether you are traveling near or far. Check it out!!

Lonely Planet’s 10 best food hotspots of the world

When Irish eyes are smiling...

...they must have had these cupcakes! I found this recipe for Irish Car Bomb cupcakes on an awesome blog, Brown Eyed Baker, and HAD to give them a try. But I had to get some key ingredients first.....
Yes, it is a lot of butter.
Yes, all of those lovely items go into making these cupcakes amazing. Guinness in the chocolate cupcakes, Jameson in the chocolate ganache filling, and Baileys (and lots of butter) in the frosting... oh goodness... 

I have to admit, however, that the process was not without its perils (none of which were alcohol-related, I swear!!).  The cakes baked up wonderful (side bar: I haven't *quite*  figured out the oven in my apartment has only been 2 months.. I may have had a disasterous batch of corn muffins last month!).  The ganache, on the other hand, gave me a run for my money. It didn't set enough, so when I tried to pipe it into the hollowed-out cakes, the chocolate went EVERYWHERE. Into the freezer it went for a bit, then I was able to fill the pastry bag and pipe the chocolatey goodness into the cakes.  Lastly was the Baileys frosting. I channeled Paula Deen for this one (holy butter!).  This process was MUCH easier than the ganache. I piped the frosting on with a star tip, then sprinkled with green sugar sprinkles.
Ta da! Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes
I made 4 dozen all together. Made a couple stops that day/night and brought these to those stops. They got many, many thumbs up!

Here is the recipe if you care to try - Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes. Slainte!

Monday, March 12, 2012

View through an arch - Grand Mosque

mosque by aecance37
mosque, a photo by aecance37 on Flickr.
I took this photo in February 2010 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Construction of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque (or Grand Mosque, as everyone calls it) began in the late 1990s and although the structure itself is complete, the landscaping and grounds work was still in process when I visited. It is truly an impressive and sacred place. It can accommodate over 40,000 worshipers is roughly the size of 5 football fields! The cool marble was a welcome relief from the desert heat (about 90 degrees in February!)

Read more about the Grand Mosque on the Visit Abu Dhabi tourism website here:

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Views of Mayflower Beach

Here are some pictures I took on Mayflower Beach, Dennis, MA (Cape Cod).  My mom and I went for a walk on New Years Day with Fenway Sally (our black lab) and Chapin (my brother & sister-in-law's dog - a Connemara Jack Russell).  It was a gorgeous day - sunny, 40* or so, blue sky.... 

I decided to experiment with my camera a's what I captured...

Toy camera effect

Bright color setting

Afternoon shadows

Pup prints

My beach companions - Mom, Fenway, Chapin

Friday, March 9, 2012

Zucchini, Onion and Feta Frittata - Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Not quite a relevant topic on my blog, however it looks really delicious! And I hope to get some pictures of a GIANT zucchini I grew last season up soon (so there, I made it fit in!) LOL! Enjoy!

Zucchini, Onion and Feta Frittata - Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Flashback - 2007

This was taken in July 2007 on the Colorado River, Grand Canyon, Mile 0. Brings back some *amazing* memories for me.  My mom always dreamt of doing a rafting trip in the Grand Canyon, and in 2006 we started the planning process.  We went with Canyon Explorations for our trip (I HIGHLY recommend them!!).  After a year of planning/prep, 6 of us (family and friends) started our 6-day journey down the Colorado River - minimal-footprint camping, canyon hikes, paddling, swimming, culminating with the 7.5 mile hike OUT of the canyon (in July...114* by 10 a.m. - yikes!) 
Grand Canyon. Mile 0. Right below Lee's Ferry.
I am not a photography expert by any stretch of the imagination. I enjoy experimenting with my camera settings.  This photo, however, was a case of right place, right time, right light, etc, etc.  One of my favorites, I got an 8"x10" made, matted and framed it, and it now hangs on my bedroom wall.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Super Cupcakes - not for the faint of heart!

I don't want to bring up bad memories (a.k.a. the Super Bowl - from a Pats fan's point of view...) but I had to share these cupcakes.  I brought them to a friend's Super Bowl party and they were a huge hit! I found the recipe in the Worcester Telegram and HAD to try it out. 

Click here for the recipe.

Beer cupcakes with whiskey frosting
I used an oatmeal stout in the cake, Jack Daniels in the frosting, and topped the cakes with a variety of treats - M&Ms, pretzels, peanuts, chocolate-covered cookie dough, and bacon. (Yes. Bacon.)

Monday, February 20, 2012

New adventures...!

Hi there!  Welcome to my blog and thanks for reading!  I am new to the "blogosphere," so bear with me. (:  I love to photojournal my life and adventures, both in and out of the kitchen.  I LOVE to cook, and try new recipes, and I love to try new adventures.  Stay tuned for more posts, pictures, and treats!