Cupcakes and Cocktails at the BCAE with Blog and Tweet Boston

I recently had the opportunity to join Blog and Tweet Boston at the Boston Center for Adult Education for Cupcakes and Cocktails. Led by Dustin Rennells, this baking class is perfect for all levels of bakers. I’m what you might call amateur so the entire 3 hours was very beneficial for me, but I’m certain the avid baker out there would learn a thing or two from him. Aaaand also have a blast doing it. You just may not be as lucky as me to have Jessica and Kristina as dates.

Cupcakes. Cocktails. Cupcake-Cocktails. Win-Win.

Their set-up is gorgeous and high-tech… I’ve designed a few commercial kitchens, so I know a good hood exhaust when I see one. Has great ventilation to boot, I might add.

Anywayyyyyy.

LET’S DO THIS

Dustin made sure that everyone got to participate in cocktail and/or cupcake mixing/baking/decorating. You’ll get your hands dirty and may even walk out with frosting on your shoe and smashed into your faux-fur trimmed winter jacket. These casualties, however, are totally worth it.

RISE MY CHILDREN.

WHAT WE MADE

Nothing like starting the evening off right with a Cake Frosting Shot. I haven’t had amaretto liquor since college, but I’m seriously thinking about stocking my cabinets with like 10 bottles. A girl’s gotta be prepared for the next snowmageddon, ya heard?

Something else that will distract you from snow? Spring Break Cupcakes made with coconut rum. I was blessed with the task of whipping its amazing strawberry frosting and had a terrible time trying not to stick my mits in it, Winnie the Pooh style. It was painful, I tell you.

Mentally. Painful.

Now let me introduce you to the key to my heart: bourbon whiskey. IN A CUPCAKE EVEN. Read: Brandied Peach Cupcakes with Tangy Brown Sugar Frosting, paired with an Apple Cider Hot Toddy that has a lovely dollop of butter melting in it. Yes, butter and yes I was hesitant and yes now I want to put butter in everything hot that I drink.

Last but not least because these were HANDS DOWN MY FAVORITE: Sangria Cupcakes with Red Wine Frosting and Fruit Compote Topping. OMG yes here is the recipe.

I must also mention that Elizabeth mixed up a most excellent Spicy Winter Sangria, and looked super fashionable while doing so.

OMG CUPCAKES FOR DAYYSSSSS. Thank you BCAE and Blog and Tweet Boston!

WHAT I THOUGHT

This was an excellent introduction for me to the Boston Center for Adult Education. I highly recommend taking their next Cupcakes and Cocktails class, being held on March 28, 2014 from 6pm-9pm for $60 (non-members) plus $25 materials.

The BCAE is located at 122 Arlington Street, Boston, MA 02116 and is a short walk from the T.

This was a complimentary class provided by the Boston Center for Adult Education and Blog and Tweet Boston. These are my opinions about my experience.

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ginger nama shoyu dressing (Life Alive copycat)

OMG have you been to Life Alive? totally in love “The Goddess” dish with Ginger Nama Shoyu dressing.

too bad the place is so friggin’ obnoxious that I hate stepping foot into it.

thank god for the GOOGLE machine.

you have to love two things to love this dressing: raw garlic and raw ginger. it’s pretty intense. I highly recommend eating it with a grain (brown rice, quinoa, etc). without that, I get something else intense: HEARTBURN.

but seriously this stuff is amazing and the recipe below makes a lot. I’m on week 2 of lunch salads. you may want to halve it and go from there, a little goes a long way.

GINGER NAMA SHOYU DRESSING
from Kick Ass Kitchen

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, roughly chopped
1/4 cup fresh garlic
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp nama shoyu (or soy/tamari sauce)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1-1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons olive oil

  1. BLEND garlic and ginger in a food processor until finely minced.
  2. ADD lemon juice, nama shoyu, and salt until combined.
  3. ADD olive oil slowly and blend until the dressing is nice and smooth.

my girl Jessica found a similar recipe that I’m curious to try. the ratios are totally different and it also has tahini sauce. YUM.

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DIY body scrubs

man it’s dry out. sub zero temps will do that. it’s SCIENCE.

good thing i’m addicted to body scrubs.

good thing they’re easy-peasy to make.

my favorite store bought scrub of all time is Fresh’s Brown Sugar Body Polish. at nearly 70 clams a jar i had to try to make my own.

the basic recipe is very… basic. it’s a 1:2 oil to grain (salt or sugar) ratio. you can use a variety of oils. sweet almond oil. safflower oil. jojoba oil. a mixture of oils. any kind of body oil. i like to use sweet almond oil, it feels a little lighter on the skin and not so, you know, oily. i stay away from olive oil, as it’s very thick. different oils have different oiliness. viscosity. learn it.

here are two scrubs that i love and make regularly. the amount of essential oil is all preference, so feel free to play with that.

DIY FRESH BROWN SUGAR BODY SCRUB

3/4 cup turbinado sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sweet almond oil (or any carrier oil)
essential oils: grapefruit, lemon, orange, bergamont (start with 2-5 drops each)

  1. COMBINE the oils in a medium glass or metal bowl and stir. adjust the scent to your preference a few drops at a time.
  2. ADD the sugars and stir until mixed well.
  3. STORE in an air tight container.

DIY LAVENDER SALT SCRUB

1 cup dead sea salt, medium grain (epsom salt can be used too)
1/2 cup sweet almond oil (or any carrier oil)
essential oil: lavender (start with 5 drops)

  1. COMBINE the oils in a medium glass or metal bowl and stir. adjust the scent to your preference a few drops at a time.
  2. ADD the salt and stir until mixed well.
  3. STORE in an air tight container.

DISCLAIMER: the oils will make your shower slippery; please make sure your drain is working properly. also, salt is wonderful and healing but will burn like a major B if you have a cut. so there’s that.

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dark chocolate walnut skillet blondie

SANTA! santa got me a cast iron skillet!

what’s the first thing you cook in your new cast iron skillet? hmmm…. let’s see…

oh.

i know.

prrrrretty sure by law, you have to break in your cast iron skillet with bacon.

then, naturally, you make some kind of dessert. how about this dark chocolate walnut blondie?

heck. yes.

also i highly suggest inviting someone over to chop the chocolate for you, like little miss runshine. she even brought over three diamond rings! i’ll let her explain that one

DARK CHOCOLATE WALNUT SKILLET BLONDIE
adapted from theKitchn

10 inch cast iron skillet
3/4 cup dark chocolate (70% or higher), chopped
1/2 cup walnuts (or peeled hazelnuts), chopped
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1-1/4 cups flour
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 large egg
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp espresso or coffee powder

  1. PREHEAT oven to 350° F.
  2. WHISK flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl. set aside.
  3. MELT butter in skillet over medium heat, then add brown sugar and stir until dissolved.
  4. POUR (carefully!) the butter mixture into the flour mixture, then add the egg, vanilla, and espresso powder. mix with a spoon.
  5. FOLD in the chocolate, nuts, and coconut.
  6. SPREAD the dough into the skillet, and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  7. COOL before slicing!
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kale and roasted cauliflower salad with tahini dressing

i was so excited to make food for the workweek on the last day of my juice cleanse. the great thing about kale, is that you can toss it with dressing and it doesn’t get soggy, making it a great make-ahead salad. keeps for a few days. love it.

but i screwed up. i didn’t use a good make-ahead salad dressing. it was delicious, but i kinda maybe wasn’t thinking that if i blended avocado with other things it will still turn BROWN. duh, you say. DUH.

NO UGLY SALADS ALLOWED.

i guess it just looks like a nice balsamic vinaigrette. but it wasn’t. the damn thing just creeped me out.

so guess what i did? i rinsed it and salad spun it and made another salad! and also a giant mess. i sauteed it a bit because i knew after all of the trauma i put the kale through, it just wouldn’t be the same.

despite all of that i ended up making something even more delicious. i’m so SO very in love with this tahini dressing, folks.

KALE AND ROASTED CAULIFLOWER SALAD WITH TAHINI DRESSING
adapted from REAL SIMPLE

5 cups chopped kale
2 cups shredded red cabbage
1 cups shredded carrot
1 head cauliflower, cut in florets
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 c water
1/4 c tahini
juice from 1 lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
salt pepper to taste

  1. TOAST the pine nuts on a baking sheet in a pre-heated 350° F oven for about 4 minutes, stirring halfway. set aside.
  2. TOSS the cauliflower with 2 tbsp oil, cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper (to taste). spread on a baking sheet and bake until tender, stirring halfway, about 25 minutes.
  3. SAUTE the carrot and cabbage in 2 tbsp oil for about 2 minutes in a large pan. add kale, stir, and cover with lid for another 4 minutes. don’t overcook the veggies, you just want them to get a bit soft.
  4. WHISK together the tahini, lemon juice, 2 tbsp oil, water, salt and pepper.
  5. TOSS everything together in a big bowl along with the pine nuts.

side note: i  suggest gradually adding and tossing the amount of dressing to your liking. you may have some leftover.

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(another) Raw Generation review

OMG I finally completed. Another. Six. Day. Juice cleanse. I’ve reviewed raw generation before, but this one was a little different. I did the 3-day Happily Ever After Bridal Juice Cleanse followed by the 3-day Skinny Cleanse. Hey, they had some mad sales going on. A girl can’t resist.

Now mother, calm down. I’m not engaged. I just wanted to have radiant glowing pre-bride skin, and I sure got it! All of the juices were delicious, and by day two I was rid of my post-holiday bloat. I miraculously cut out coffee AND booze, and slept like a baby. It also comes with a great cooler to haul them around, recipes, and grocery checklist.

They arrive frozen, in a giant well-insulated box…

So make room in your fridge…

Get out of my face coconut milk ice cream, because this is all I’ll be drinking for the next few days:

no. 1: carrot, apple, beet, ginger. This one will wake you up in the morning and give you a boost of energy, just like the bottle says. Also called “Cecelia”.

no. 2: orange, grapefruit, bell pepper. It smells very much like pepper, but surprisingly doesn’t taste very much like pepper. Very citrus-y, very good, and will keep you stable until “lunch”.

no. 3: apple, lemon, spinach, kale, collards. Prrrrobably the only person on the planet that thinks this tastes like bananas. I love bananas. It works. But seriously, it’s good and filling and nutritious and probably the best one for you out of this bunch. Also known as “Jessica”.

no. 4: cashews, dates, vanilla, cinnamon. I hope you have a sweet tooth, because no. 4 will most definitely satisfy it. VERY sweet, VERY cinnamon-y, VERY filling. It came just in time to distract me from my ritualistic afternoon coffee break. WHEW.

no. 5: fresh squeezed orange. Just what it says. Love me some vitamin C.

no. 6: pineapple, cucumber, aloe vera. Soothing, calming, and for some reason my dog went crazy for the smell of it. Like really crazy. Pretty sure he wanted to get in the bottle. This one is also called “Elizabeth”.

I recommend the Bridal Juice Cleanse if this is your first time, want to gently detox, and simply feel great. If you’re aiming for a more significant weight-loss, go for something greener.

Which brings us to the second half of my 6-day cleanse, the SKINNY cleanse.

I did this one before and really liked it. You can find my previous review HERE. I like to drink these juices in order as pictured above, it just works for me. They don’t specify an order but suggest alternating green with fruit.

My post, ‘juice cleanse 101. YOU CAN DO THIS‘, has some helpful tips, suggestions, and lessons learned for a successful cleanse, should you be interested in doing one yourself!

Good luck and DRINK VERY COLD.

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juice cleanse 101. YOU CAN DO THIS.

it’s pretty clear that i love to do a good juice cleanse.  A LOT of people ask me why i do it. they think i’m crazy. in a nutshell, i do it when i need a good kick in the rear to get back into healthy habits. when my skinny jeans are, you know, feeling a little too skinny. post holidays. feeling gross. stuff like that. and i continue to do them for these reasons:

  • I SLEEP LIKE A BABY. i have serious SERIOUS sleeping issues. juicing like, makes them go away. whether it be science or magic, i’ll take it.
  • BLOAT? WHAT BLOAT? it gets rid of bloating. i feel so…. fabulously un-bloated.
  • HYDRATES. my skin feels awesome and supple and young and vibrant.
  • ALCOHOL/COFFEE DETOX. sometimes i just need to not drink alcohol. or coffee. and i feel awesome when i’m not drinking either of them.
  • JUMP START. i juice when i need to start eating good again. and when i’m done juicing, all i want to do is put awesome, healthy, delicious things in my body. i like making my body feel awesome.
  • AWARENESS. after the cleanse, i’m more aware of how my body reacts to the things i put in it. does kale make me feel good? yes. does a cheeseburger make me feel good? no.
  • SUPERSTARDOM. yes, i feel like a superstar. better than you. haha totally joking. but not really.

now that i’m thinking of myself as a master juice cleanser, here are some tips and suggestions via my wisdom to help you take the leap. so let’s learn from my mistakes, shall we?

  • PREPARE YOUR FRIDGE. did you order juices? are you getting like 18 bottles? make room in your fridge! are they frozen? do you even know what’s in your freezer?
  • BUDDY SYSTEM. if it’s your first time, grab a partner. do it together. it’s supportive and you can high-five at the end.
  • DRINK THEM COLD. cold as ice. they taste wayyy better. especially that green one. remember when i did my first Raw Generation cleanse review and i drank the green juice at room temperature? yah don’t do that. you’ll think you’ve made a huge mistake. throw a few ice cubes in there if you need to.
  • WATER IT DOWN. if you don’t like the taste of a juice, water it down. no bigs. but still drink it. all of it.
  • SHAKE THEM. they settle. if you don’t shake it while you’re drinking, that last sip will be very gritty and interesting. it may not bother you, but it bothers me.
  • START DRINKING THE FIRST JUICE AS SOON AS YOU GET UP.  you just slept (hopefully) 8 hours. you had juice for dinner. you’re starving. don’t wait until you get to the office to have “breakfast”. you’ll pass out on your way there.
  • DRINK WATER. believe it or not, you need to drink water along with all of these other delicious beverages. it hydrates and helps the cleansing process. just do it. yes, you’ll pee a lot. A LOT.
  • DON’T PLAN ON HEAVY EXERCISE. seriously. kind of a no-brainer. if you’re an active person, do some very light yoga or stretching. maybe a little toning. no 5 mile runs here people.
  • DRINK CAFFEINE IF YOU NEED IT. a lot of juice cleanses restrict you from coffee. yes, you really shouldn’t have anything other than juice and water. however if you’re a Starbucks frequent, you’re going to have a very rough couple of days if you cut cold turkey. i highly suggest weaning yourself off slowly pre-cleanse, or treat yourself to some plain old black tea. who knows, maybe you’ll kick your triple mocha latte habit?
  • IF YOU’RE REALLY HUNGRY AND THINK YOU’RE GONNA DIE, DON’T DIE. just… eat. your intentions are good. you’re doing a cleanse. but like, you think you’re gonna die. so eat. some cucumber. avocado. banana. no cheeseburgerzzz.
  • DON’T FREAK OUT IF YA PEE/POO GETS WEIRD. yes. just what i said. it will get weird. especially if you’re drinking beet juice, so be prepared for that. it’s loaded with that natural red dye, if you know what i’m sayin. you’ll survive.
  • BUT WAIT I JUST GOOGLED PEEPOO. this is genius!
  • EAT CLEAN PRE/POST CLEANSE. that would be a few days before and after. we’re talking easy to digest and watery foods. no meat, dairy, processed junk. make a yummy chopped cucumber and avocado salad. nosh on fresh mango, pineapple, and watermelon. enjoy some cashews, sparingly. make a dairy free smoothie. your intestines will thank you and you will thank your intestines, trust me. need a recipe? make this kale salad and this edamame dip.
  • GREEN MEANS GO. if you’re doing this for weight-loss, the greener the juice, the less calories it has in it. if you’re drinking mostly fruit juices, you may not get the results you had hoped. therefore, green means go for getting back into those skinny jeans.

so there you have it. are you interested now or did i completely scare you away? hello?

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