Sunday, April 24, 2011

Science Fair Samples

Thankfully I managed to have a very productive and fun weekend.  I finished the business plan for my e-commerce class (woooooo hoooo!) and baked lots of samples for the Venture Creation Challenge I am being forced to participate in this Friday at UMKC.   

As part of my grade in the e-commerce class, I am required to participate in this convention-esque shindig at school where they trot us entrepreneurship students out onto stage to do 30-second pitches for our companies.  Then they have us assigned to tables throughout the convention hall with tri-fold displays like a third grade science fair.  Judges go around and, well, judge us.  15 winners advance... blah blah blah.  It's making me tried just typing about it.

My whole strategy is to stuff the judges so full of cookies they don't care about my business plan's lack of coherent financial ratios or that I decided a tri-fold display was a waste of time and resources. :D


Organic Vanilla Bean Shortbread

Organic Rosemary Shortbread

Peanut Butter samples and some others wrapped for delivery 
the kitchen smelled like peanut butter and lilac on Saturday :)

some old photos I came across on my boyfriend's hard drive...

...he's such a talented photographer when it comes to photos of the kids.

i can't ever get them to stay still.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

DIY Donuts & Starbucks!

Saying that I'm on a budget right now is an understatement.  I'm broke!  Working for a not-for-profit is really starting to take its toll on my bank account.  Good food is my only "splurge".  I REFUSE to eat like crap, because then I'll feel like crap.  In trying to watch my food budget, however, I'm trying to cut back on those little costs that add up:  like snacks on the fly and my Starbucks iced tea habit.

Last month I cracked the Starbucks code -- Shaken Green Tea = TAZO "Zen" on ice. 

This wasn't hard to figure out, as they sell the tea bags right in the store!  wish i'd noticed that sooner.

The donuts came to life last night when I found a recipe for Jelly Donut Cupcakes in Veganomicon.  I love this cookbook!  It's all vegan recipes but it is so much better than any straight vegetarian cookbooks I have found...sometimes I just fudge (mmmm, fudge) on the strict vegan aspects of the recpies.  Not suprisingly, my meat-eater friends are fans as well.

Anyway, the "donuts" turned out great, but I have a hard time calling something a cupcake when it doesn't have here's the recipe for Jelly Donut "Muffcakes"....ENJOY!

  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup grape jelly  --use the CHEAP STUFF (yields more "realistic" results)
  • powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350ยบ.   Grease and flour a cupcake tin (12).

Add the soy milk, cornstarch and vinegar to a small cup or bowl and mix until the cornstarch is dissolved. 

Then, in a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg and salt.  Create a little dent in the middle of the dry ingredients.  Remix the soy milk mixture, and add it to the dent in the flour mix.   
Add the oil, sugar, and vanilla.  Mix everything together until well combined.

Then fill those cupcake tins 2/3rds of the way with the mixture.  Drop TEAspoonfuls of jelly in the middle. 

Bake 21-23 minutes.  Tops will be firm and jelly will sink into the cake.

Cool and remove from the tins.  When cooled completely, dust with powdered sugar.

Enjoy w/in safe distance from police station with your fake Starbucks Iced Tea :)

Also, a big thank you to fellow blogger, Lauren Alexander, for including Donut Girl in her blog.  Visit her Etsy store for super cute water color paintings from a talented Kansas City artist.

Monday, April 11, 2011

this and that

*sigh*  I feel like such an inattentive blogger.  I wish I could say that I have been SOOO busy baking, that I haven't had time to think about taking photos or blogging, but sadly I have been either busy with end-of-the school-semester nonsense or fighting a head cold.  I actually took a sick day today for the first time in a year, so I figured I'd take the bed-ridden opportunity to try to make up for my inattentiveness.  Here's what I've been doing:

1.  Business cards and labels on order, FINALLY!



2.  Organized a trade with fellow KC user Lauren Alexander.  She is a wonderful water color artist who gave me an adorably tiny painting of a couple of polar bears (my favorite man-eaters).  She's going to feature Donut Girl in an upcoming edition of her blog, and I gave her a dozen of my Vanilla Bean Shortbread cookies in return.  yay!

3.  Paint chips!  I am currently obsessed with re-painting practically every room in my house.  When I bought the house in 2005, I went with a lot of warm, dramatic colors...golds and reds to go with the dark woodwork of the craftsman bungalow era.  Since then I have acquired quite a lot of COLOR!  Art, accessories, upholstery...and the result now is just DRAMA OVERLOAD.  So I'm trying to go for more neutral, calm, and cool colors....I can't wait til semester ends and I'll have some time to make it happen.

So, that where I'm at right now.  This week looks to be homework-focused, but next weekend will bring the return of cookies.  I cancelled the orders that we due today because I didn't want to send out germ-y cookies.  Here's my sick day partner, Gary, and  what I will dub an "apology recipe" for my lack of baking-related content...... ENJOY!   xo

GARY - keepin' me company
In celebration of the return of warm weather I give you my dad's recipe for ice cream....if you have an ice cream maker, this is a MUST this summer - use the recommended cardamom listed at the bottom.  Unexpected and sooo good!

Monday, April 4, 2011

The end of a Taz groom's cake

Oh, man.  Last week was tense, but I managed to pull off 2 major things:  finishing the Taz cake AND officially re-launching the Donut Girl Etsy store!  woo hoo!

First off, the Taz cake was quite the harrowing process.  The groom is a drummer with a *ahem* Taz tattoo ripping out of his upper arm, drumsticks in hand.  I believe it predates 1990 and was done in the back of an old Trans Am.  At least that's my theory.  Hi Billy!

It was my first attempt at a 3D cake design, and I was nervous to say the least.  All I wanted was to NOT end up on   The Taz figure ended up being the easiest part of the process, next to baking the actual cake.  The difficulty came in assembling the drum and getting it to look somewhat like the groom's actual snare drum.  Here's the finished product:

I am very happy with how it turned out, and it stayed in one piece for the whole evening.  The bride and groom were very happy with it as well, so I really couldn't ask for more.  Yay!

In regards to the Donut Girl Etsy store.... if you aren't aware, I am now offering DG cookies for sale online that CAN BE SHIPPED!  Woo hoooo!  I have 3 vegan options; 6 total.  There is also a 10% off code you can score on the DG facebook page too, so get shopping!  If you are a KC local, there is also an option to pick up your order at my KC address.  Just enter code "4LOCALPU" when you order.  Here's a couple of the guys you'll find for sale:

Happy monday.

Monday, March 28, 2011

the beginnings of a Taz groom's cake...

Despite the heartbreaking loss suffered by my beloved KU Jayhawks this weekend, I was successful in getting things rolling with a groom's cake for Friday. 

2 of my good friends are getting married, and my gift to them is a cake in honor of 2 things:  the fact that the groom is a drummer and that he has an awful first tattoo on his arm of Taz ripping out of his skin with drumsticks in hand.  It's really something you have to see in person to truly appreciate.  The cake version will feature Taz ripping out of the top of his snare drum.  I was able to knock out the Taz part yesterday, and the rest will come together this week.

armless Taz

Before I began my work, I rescued some dafodills from the incoming spring snow storm and enjoyed them while I worked in the kitchen with the cats locked safely upstairs. 

Typically, I'm not allowed to have flowers in the house, as Charlotte (aka "The Scurge" or "Harlot") will try to eat them.  I've tried putting them at the top of Mike's 6 foot tall record/book cases, but this only encourages her to try to scale the tower of vinyl records. *sigh*

Here's some other random sweetness to get you through Monday:

a sampling of the flavored cane sugars I found at the Whole Foods in Dallas
- i couldn't decide on just 1 so i left empty handed-
they had everything form ancho chili to blueberry

Gus's standard sleeping pose :)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

SweetsXSW - Pt. 2

The second stop I made on my Austin sweet-tooth journey was to a place right down the street from the South Austin Trailer Park:  Sugar Mama's Bakeshop.  I chose to visit based on 2 things I always look for: cool graphic style and the promise of vegan goodies.

This place was super-cute and totally what I could see Donut Girl looking like if/when I have a brick-and-mortar "store"...

exterior - i couldn't get a straight-on shot w/o standing in traffic - apparently I'm not a very committed blogger

interior - LOVE the old soda fountain tables and chairs

I showed up around 3pm on a Saturday, and they were all out of vegan cupcakes.  I'm sure that had a LOT to do with the SXSW hipster masses, but I was more than happy to purchase some traditional cakes. 

Clockwise from top left:
Strawberry Love, French Toast, The Hemingway, and James Brown

I was a big fan of the Hemingway with its key lime cream cheese frosting.  I will definitely be trying to turn that into a DG flavor.  I didn't try the French Toast because of the bacon bits on top, but my carnivore friend said it needed more bacon cause all he was getting was the chewy texture and no flavor.  Overall, the cakes were good but I wouldn't make a special trip back.

Finally, on Sunday, fatigue was setting in and despite wanting nothing more than to go back to the hotel after a harrowing trek to Ikea, I decided to poke my head in Quack's Bakery.  That's how dedicated I am to provided YOU with awesome blog stuffs! ....It also happened to be right across the street from where we stopped for some post-Ikea dinner.

exterior - at sundown

The cupcakes in this place were the size of my head!  But having satisfied my cupcake requirements at Sugar Mama's, I decided to diversify into cookies at Quack's.  I was so impressed with the aesthetics of their iced sugar cookies;  I still can't figure out what technique they used.  There were no drips down the sides to indicate they were dipped, but the icing was also very thin around the edges, so I don't think they piped it on.  I'm so confused!!  I'll be tossing and turning at night for a while trying to figure this one out.

Despite being so impressed with how the cookies looked, the taste was not nearly as good, but that tends to be the case with sugar cookies that maintain their cookie-cutter shape after baking.  This is usually a result of a shortbread-like dough as opposed to a true sugar cookie - at least in my experiences thus far.  This is an issue I'm still working to remedy in my kitchen.

Anyway, that is the end of my Austin sugar journey.  I look forward to reporting on more sweet spots in other locations whenever I have the chance.

On tap for this weekend - the beginnings of a "Taz" groom's cake :D

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

SweetsXSW - Pt. 1

Last night I returned home at 1am from a long-awaited return to SXSW in Austin, TX.  Maybe it was the sunny 80 degree weather, or maybe it was the unlimited awesome food and shopping choices, but everything about the trip had me wanting to move there.

First off - I LOVE KC, but we need to get on the food cart/trailer trend NOW! 

I will admit that I was skeptical of all the Food Network-induced hype over food carts, but the way it was done in Austin was really cool and made me a believer.  My favorite part of the whole trip was the discovery of the South Austin Trailer Park and Eatery.   It was a totally unexpected representative of what I think the trend should be about:  a designated spot for 3-4 trailers to park and sell their respective foods in an outdoor food court type of setting.  It is perfect for a group of friends that can't come to a concensus on where to eat!

There were picnic tables available in the shade of a giant tree lit with Christmas lights at night, and there was even a newly-converted warehouse structure with more "traditional" seating, TV's, beer sales, shuffle boad, and foosball!  What more do you need on a warm summer night?  I really wish I had got some photos at night.  my bad.
the picnic tables -daytime
Within the trailer park were 3 food options.  I chose Torchy's Tacos for lunch AND dinner on Saturday and The Holy Cacao for dessert. 

Holy Cacao's specialty is the trendy "cake ball".  This is also a fad of which I have been skeptical because I am NOT a fan of the texture you often get when DIPPING desserts in "chocolate" that needs to harden.  I often find it to be waxy and AWFUL.  I'm not sure if Holy Cacao just uses higher quality ingredients or what, but the result was REALLY yummy and un-waxy.  I chose the "Wedding Ball" and the "Diablo Ball" - see menu here

I also love the Ganesh/cow mascot.  really cute.

I really think they might have just started the business so they could get away with talking about "balls" all the time.  *giggle*

Right now I will get back to daydreaming about starting a trailer park in KC with the Record Bar, Eden Alley, and Fresher Than Fresh Snow Cones. 

Tomorrow - cupcakes and cookies, Austin style.