Friday, August 31, 2012

Wait a Minute...

I know I've been somewhat silent on the blogosphere lately. There's lots of good reasons for that.

Be back after I'm settled into my new apartment :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Strawberry Mousse and Bachlorette Party Planning

Here's another post that's in my backlog while I try to fight my way through learning a new image editing program while my free time becomes dangerously low--I already had to drop out of Rocky Horror due to my crazy schedule... I know, I don't like thinking about it. I'm going to be lost without a play to be in this fall. These backlog posts are running low though, which means one of three things: 1. I'll be silent again for a while while I play catch up with my recipes and subsequent photos, 2. You'll get more crappy phone pictures of various foods I've been eating for the sole purpose of trying to take up space (who cares what I'm eating, really?), 3. I'll half-ass it with the image editing program and you'll get the new recipes with sub-par pictures.

Oy vey, let's hope it's not option 3.

Anyways, these cupcakes were the result of a bit of improvisation. Back in May my Maid of Honor duties included throwing a small bachlorette party for my best friend, Jenn. Although she isn't getting married until Columbus Day Weekend, she was moving to Texas at the end of that month. I asked her what baked good she wanted me to make and she immediately said "vanilla cupcakes!"

Jenn and Me in High School at her surprise 16th Birthday Party
(actually her surprise 4th Birthday Party, since she's a Leap Year baby!)

Really? Just vanilla? Oh, that simply would not do.

So I decided to make vanilla cupcakes, filled with strawberry mousse, and topped with vanilla bean buttercream. I had such good intentions, but with everything else I had to do for the evening I had missed buying some key ingredients--namely, vanilla beans and confectioner's sugar for the buttercream. Oops! And it was midnight the night before the party. I'd be at work all the next day and unable to finish the cupcakes.

Thankfully, the moussse came out a lot thicker than I'd expected, and I decided to just pipe it on top of the cupcakes like frosting. Ta-daaa! Jenn loved them, and I was able to contribute these fun, girly baked goods to the event. Plus I also won the photo scavenger hunt and we all got pleasantly tipsy as we danced around downtown to celebrate Jenn and her upcoming milestone.

Out on the Town!

In retrospect, the mousse came out stiffer than expected because I tried to double the recipe and I am pretty sure I added too much gelatin--so if you want to try to use it in place of frosting, add a bit more gelatin than the recipe calls for. This mousse was sweet, flavorful, and fresh and I imagine it would have been a lovely filling for the cupcakes or perfect on its own with some strawberries on the side.

Strawberry Mousse
(From Hubpages)

  • One pound of strawberries, cleaned with the stems removed
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • One envelope of unflavored gelatin
  • Two cups of whipped cream

In a small sauce pan heat water, sugar, and unflavored gelatin on low heat until the gelatin and sugar are dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Pour the strawberries into a food processor and process on high until smooth.

Combine the contents of the sauce pan and the strawberries into a large mixing bowl. Fold in the whipped cream until completely combined. You can also mix in some sliced fresh strawberries with the whipped cream. Refrigerate for a minimum of one hour, preferably overnight.

(Hey did you see my post about my upcoming Walk for Autism Speaks? My goal is $500 and any little bit helps!)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Please Help!

Hey Guys, some of you may remember last year when I did the Walk for Autism Speaks in Western Massachusetts...

My cousin and me at last year's walk

Or my autism awareness puzzle piece tattoo...

It's not the same puzzle piece as the Autism Speaks logo,
that is on purpose.

Anyways, this is a cause that is very close to my heart for very personal reasons and I'll be participating in the walk again this year. With my new work schedule I'm not 100% sure I can make the walk itself, but it's the fundraising that's important. I made a goal of $500 and it'd be great to reach it!

Click here to go to my donations page, every little bit helps, thanks so much!

Food post soon! I promise!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

While You Wait...

Coming Soon--Beer Bread Recipe! And, hopefully a better picture than this one...

Do you ever get so busy that in your free time you just want to do absolutely nothing? I'm there this week. I just want to lie on my bed and watch trashy television. Or go out to the brewery and have a few beers with friends and just RELAX.

Beer in jugs is the best way to have a beer... This is not the local brewery
I mentioned, it's the Harpoon Brewery in Boston. But I felt the photo
was appropriate, hehe.

I am currently working two jobs (my full time job and a part-time retail job), doing some freelance photography/editing for that newspaper I mentioned, and trying to pack up my stuff and move to an apartment (!!!). I have a backlog of a few recipes to post but need to actually find the recipes that go with the pictures I took... also I took a ton of pictures in RAW format to begin teaching myself Lightroom, but that is slow goings for sure.

A neat picture I took of a caterpillar that looks like something out of a
horror film. Just using the Macro setting on my camera, did
not do this in Manual, I am not so skilled yet.

So, in times like these, a full blog post may not be something I can handle. However, I am fairly active in the following places:

-Quarter Life (Crisis) Cuisine Facebook
-AshleyBeeCooks on Twitter
-AshleyBlom on Twitter
-BlomBlog ( --updated occasionally

Met friends in Boston for a Sox game!

So if you haven't "liked" me, or don't follow me, perhaps now is the time! And I still try to do at least a little blog reading during my lunch break, so this doesn't necessarily mean I'll be too busy to comment on all your wonderful posts as well :)

My parents' adorable dog, Tocha. Just because.

Anyways. Just a bump to say I am alive, there are ways to find me, and I hope to have an excellent foodie post for you soon!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Getting Rid of my Backups -- Biscotti

I'm trying to get through my backlog of less-than-stellar pictures, in order to force myself to edit all the RAW format pictures I have waiting on my computer for future posts. This is a recipe that's been waiting for MONTHS to see the light of day. I think it was still winter when I made these!

Anyways, thought I'd do a quick post before the weekend, as I'll be off to my beloved city of Boston until Sunday. Have a lovely weekend, all. See you next week :)

(Used Mark Bittman's recipe in his actual book, but Googled and found it here so I didn't have to type it all out...which would be impossible to do anyway since the book is at my friend's house and not in my hands.)
  • 4 tablespoons butter, unsalted, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Pistachios, almonds, or nuts of choice -- I used both plus some coconut shavings, you can also use dried fruit

Preheat oven to 375.With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until well-combined, light and fluffy. (We used a food processor). Add eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated; add extract and beat until incorporated. Add your mix-ins.

Butter and flour two cookie sheets. Divide dough in half and shape each into a log about 2" wide. Bake until logs are golden and beginning to crack on top, 30 minutes. Remove from oven and drop temperature to 250.

When loaves are cool enough to touch, slice each into 1/2-inch slices, on the diagonal.

Return the slices to the baking sheets and bake at 250 for another 15 to 20 minutes, turning once.Cool on wire racks.

Hey Guys, Look at This...

Somehow, my lackluster novice food photography was decent enough to get me a freelance gig at a local independent paper. Isn't that neat?

Christopher Emily Coutant's monthly piece is a series of recipes focusing on a central ingredient. I'll be making one or two of the recipes and photographing them for the segment. For this one I made a zucchini and summer squash pasta, and stuffed zucchinis. I am excited to be making Christopher's recipes--she really makes the vegetable the star of the dish, and I feel like testing her recipes will help me become a better chef myself. I can't wait to see my next assignment!

Jeff Potter, editor of the paper, helped out with my most recent theatrical endeavor (his wife was also in the play). We became Facebook friends and he saw my blog and enjoyed it. Since he was using mostly stock photos for Christopher's segments, he asked if I would be willing to take on the job of food photographer. And because I love any reason to cook something, I accepted.

I still have a long way to go, but having a reason to really buckle down and work on my photography skills, plus getting a little money for it, is a really awesome opportunity.

If any of you live in the Vermont area, check out The Commons :)