1/28/2009

woah!

i got promoted today! woop-woop!

1/23/2009

A-do-run-run-run.

3 weeks until the GW Marathon! Yes, the marathon! Surprise! I'm running the GW Marathon!!

Okay, I'm only relaying. Still - Surprise!

& 10 weeks until the Cherry Blossom 10-miler! :)

Last weekend, I ran 5 miles. I had to walk a little as my pacing was too fast & as my heart rate monitor needs new batteries. This weekend, I'll be running 6. Hopefully, I'll be more consistent this time.

In a week, I will decide if I'll be racing the Patriots Half in Williamsburg, VA, in '09. 75% of me says that I'll be racing. The other 25% wants to ensure that my training isn't inhibited by my trip to Europe with my Mom.

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My boss asked me the other day if I thought that I would "actually be quitting the triathlon stuff." To which, I replied, "I'm only relaying a marathon, doing the Cherry Blossom 10-miler, maybe an 8k in March, & possibly the half Ironman in September. That's really nothing."

Right?

1/21/2009

IronCupcake Challenge: Wine


The secret ingredient for this month's cupcake challenge was wine. What I immediately thought of was - mulled wine. Nothing is as comforting as a warm mug of spicy wine on a frosty evening.

The cupcakes were very classic - a tried & true recipe where I substituted almond extract for vanilla. It gave the cupcakes a depth of flavor that complimented the wine icing very nicely.

I was lucky this month to have my friend Jessica bake with me, Sean to heckle us, & Hux as the remaining taste tester. We had a grand time - baking, drinking leftover mulled wine, chatting, & making an all-around mess of my tiny kitchen & living room. (All that baking cannot be contained in one room!!)

What didn't work this time:
- Dropping cherries into the cupcakes. The taste of the cherries inside was perfect. It would've been amazing, but they sank like rocks. Next time, we're going to try dusting them with flour. Word on the street is that may keep them from sinking.

- The first icing recipe. Jess & I made an incredibly delicious icing recipe on our first try, but it became hard like decorating icing. (You know - the kind that you make hard sugary flowers out of.)

What did work:

- The cake recipe. These cupcakes are nearly perfect. Not very sweet. Nicely textured - very light. Very, very good. This one is a keeper.

- The 2nd frosting recipe. The 2nd icing recipe had almost a marshmallow texture. It was a very fun purple color, & the sweet/spicy taste was nicely paired with the almond cupcakes. I really enjoyed this cupcake & frosting combination.

Here is my recipe for the IronCupcake challenge this month. All pictures from this endeavor are listed on my Picasa site.



Mulled Wine Frosting

Ingredients:

* 1 & 1/2 cups sugar
* 2/3 cup red wine
* 2 egg whites
* 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar or 2 teaspoons light-colored corn syrup
* 1/2 tsp cinnamon
* 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
* 1/4 tsp ground cloves

Preparation:

1. Combine the sugar, wine, spices, egg whites, and cream of tartar in the top of a double boiler. Using an electric mixer on low speed, beat the ingredients for 30 seconds to combine.

2. Boil a small amount of water in the bottom of the double boiler. Place the top of the double boiler, with the frosting ingredients, on top. Cook the frosting on medium heat, beating constantly with the mixer on high speed, for about 7 minutes, or until the frosting forms stiff peaks when the beaters are lifted. Taste. Add more spices if needed & beat in additional spices. Allow the frosting to cool; it should be slightly warm or at room temperature when you use it. Discard any leftovers. Store frosted cake in a cool, dry place until ready to serve.

Adapted from:
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Seven-Minute-Frosting-350069




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Almond Cupcakes

* 1 cup white sugar
* 1/2 cup butter
* 2 eggs
* 2 teaspoons almond extract
* 1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 & 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
* 3/4 cup milk

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a muffin pan with paper liners.
2. In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the almond extract. Combine flour and baking powder, add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Finally stir in the milk until batter is smooth. Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan.
3. Bake 20 to 25 minutes.

Adapted from:
http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Simple-White-Cake/Detail.aspx

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This is a competition, & I am competing for the following items. I do not expect to win, but I surely had a good time trying!

Our January ETSY PRIZE-PACK is from artists:

* DOGBONE ART - http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=22042
* as well as a pair of cupcake earrings from LOTS OF SPRINKLES at http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=6057281.
* PLUS, IronCupcake:Earth can not forget our good friend, CAKESPY, http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5243382, who is now going to be doing a piece for our winner each month until further notice - sweet!

As an added bonus for January, our friend at SWEET CUPPIN CAKES BAKERY AND CUPCAKERY SUPPLY will be tossing in another treat as well, http://www.acupcakery.com/index.html.

Last and certainly not least, don’t forget our corporate prize providers: HEAD CHEFS by FIESTA PRODUCTS, http://www.fiestaproducts.com, HELLO CUPCAKE by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson, http://blog.hellocupcakebook.com, JESSIE STEELE APRONS http://www.jessiesteele.com; the CUPCAKE COURIER http://www.cupcakecourier.com; TASTE OF HOME books, http://www.tasteofhome.com. NEW, BEGINNING IN JANUARY; our new friends at UPWITHCUPCAKES.COM http://www.upwithcupcakes.com/ will be providing our winner with one of their cute cupcake attitue t's! Iron Cupcake:Earth is sponsored in part by 1-800-Flowers, http://www.1800flowers.com .

1/20/2009

Can an administration change a city?

I asked my colleagues 4 years ago if an administration change makes a difference for the District of Columbia. Now, I know the answer.

On Wednesday, November 5th (one day after the election), I flew to London for 3 weeks. When I returned, my city was alive with positivity. Could it be the holiday season? Was my city fueled by good tidings due to holiday spirit?

Hell, no. We're not easily swayed by family, gatherings, Christmas, & good feelings! We're career-focused! We're too busy to be happy & courteous!!

For example: When I go grocery shopping, I normally move out of other shoppers' way, I say excuse me, & I am a decent human being. The unknown shoppers don't even acknowledge my existence. Once, I accidentally bumped into someone when the store was crowded. The woman that I bumped said, "Excuse you!" when I attempted to apologize. DC people - angry. Period.

When I returned from London & went to the same grocery store, someone excused himself & moved out of my way. Shocking! I pulled away, looked at him, & stuttered a thank you.

Now, I know that's not a big deal, but let's examine more evidence. I noticed that city folks chatted with each other more often & friends wanted to meet more frequently. Everyone just seemed... happier.

Happiness. In my city. It's a Christmas Miracle!!

Then, I remembered that last Christmas DC wasn't that happy. We were still too busy & bottled with road rage anger.

I was hoping that the remembrance of how to be well-mannered, polite, & nice was related to the upcoming Obama administration & our new leader's character. Now, we've remained happy until today, which was Obama's inauguration.

I hope, dear readers, that we stay happy, focused, & courteous for many years - regardless of the reason & no matter what the future may hold. & if it is due to Obama, I hope that our leaders continue to inspire us to become better people.

1/04/2009

Weekend update: Pilates & Striptease 101

Yesterday, I hit my first Pilates class. It would've been amazing if my glutes & thighs weren't already overworked from my home-grown strength training plan. Pilates was very fun, & I think I'll be attending every Saturday.

Today, I hit Striptease 101 with JKo. The instructions said to wear tights with boy shorts & heels. Wearing that crazy outfit & walking through Bally Total Fitness was unnerving. All the dudes on the machines were like "Baroo?"

Though, that was nothing compared to what happened when 10 Striptease ladies started working out in the aerobics room. JKo & I were laughing about it - "Man, I love this abs machine. I've been on it for an hour & a half with my mouth agape."

In class, we didn't remove any articles of clothing. Instead, we learned some challenging moves that seemed perfect for a striptease or erotic dance. Let me tell you - It was HARD. Think of it as Pilates with a sensual twist. You have to move confidently without effort, with attitude, & not look like you're going to fall over. We wouldn't want the men laughing in the middle now, would we?

We even had to pick stripper names, who we were dancing for, what we were wearing, etc. etc. I just (internally) giggled & giggled & was glad I was only asked for my "name." Creating a mental scenario helped get everyone focused. The next time we went through the routine, we looked like two rows of serious dancers. It was great!

I definitely want to take various types of dancing classes. It was such a blast. & the whole time, I was in heels - Not too shabby!

1/03/2009

Recipe: Pasta sauce.

In 2004, I spent a summer with my friend Julian where we made pasta sauce at least once per week. I thought we had perfected our sauce every week. Now, I think I've managed to top that.

Ready? Here we go.

A Better Keri & Julian's Pasta Sauce
(based on K&J's pasta sauce & Giada DeLaurentis's Lamb Ragu)

2 shallots, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 jar of pasta sauce (or more) (or homemade)
12-14oz of chopped canned or boxed tomatoes (Muir Glen or Pomi)
1 cup of red wine
1/2 bag of frozen spinach (used Whole Foods loose, frozen spinach)
olive oil
1/4-1/2 tsp basil (optional)
1/2-3/4 tsp oregano (optional)

Place olive oil into very large skillet on high/high medium heat. Place garlic & shallot into the skillet & cook until softened. Add beef, salt, & pepper. When the beef is brown, add the cup of wine & reduce until almost non-existent. The beef is so flavorful at this point that you could probably use it for other dishes such as ground beef sandwiches, chili, shepherd's pie, etc.

Add the pasta sauce, tomatoes, & spinach. Heat thoroughly. Taste & add any required seasonings (more salt, basil, oregano, etc. etc.) Julian & I would sometimes add a little sugar. I didn't think it was needed in this case as the Muir Glen tomatoes were very sweet.

I ate this chunky sauce over rotini with dollops of ricotta cheese. Very tasty.

1/02/2009

Living up to my nickname.

Hello, New Year! I have big hopes for you. If you're anything like 2008, we're gonna be good pals - I know it.

At the end of 2008, I quit my triathlon team, signed up for the Cherry Blossom 10-miler, went to a culinary class, cooked for a family of 10 three times in one week, finally visited South Of The Border, visited my family, listened to a violinist play on a beach under a lighthouse, & saw Cirque Du Soliel.

Not bad for a year's end.

For 2009, I finally attended a Yoga class at Yoga District - which was playful & fun. I reserved a spot for Saturday's Pilates class at the same studio. I've always wanted to do Pilates!!

Sunday, I'm attending a Striptease aerobics class. No, I'm not kidding. Yes, I am bringing a friend for this one. It's supposed to difficult but fun - Plus, I have to do my aerobics in heels. Don't fret - I have my physical therapist on speed dial.

Also, I found a Trapeze class in Baltimore. Think of it: Keri on the Flying Trapeze! (I hope I don't pee myself in fear.) I tried to wrangle my friend into this too, but she told me that we need to pace ourselves - maybe we'll do one crazy & new thing every month.

Sounds like a good resolution to me.