March 27, 2011

The Crew Does Vegas: The Music Video

Last winter, I went to Vegas with my roommate/best friend Tierney and our 6 best guy friends, who also happen to be our neighbors.  Actually, it's because they are our neighbors that they're our best friends. Anyway, what was supposed to be a Skype session telling Tier that she was crazy to think that all 8 of us would commit to such a trip, turned into her booking us a 4-night stay at The Mirage.

Best decision ever. Tier is always right.  And she's been pestering me to upload the music video that I made of our trip on my blog, so here it is.

Vegas Part II: Graduation Celebration, coming in June to a point-and-shoot camera near you.

March 20, 2011

Rainy Day Whole Wheat Semi-Healthy Cookies

Things that I like:
1. Being done with finals.
2. Spring Break!
3. A week at home in LA.
4. Rainy days.

Things that I don't like:
1. Being sick.

Unfortunately, being sick had to coincide with all of the above.  Can't bake, can't drive downtown to be in the "crowd" of a music video filmed by the talented Kurt Hugo Schneider...can't do too much at all because I sort of feel like death. On this plus side, I can catch up on everything in the Twitter/Pinterest/Blogging world that I put on hold during finals week, and post this recipe that I recently adapted from Joy the Baker (quite successfully, I might add).

After this baking catastrophe, I was determined to prove that I'm not a total fail at baking from scratch.  Plus, the Whole Wheat in the title makes me think it's sort of healthy, so we're just gonna roll with that thought. I used bigger portions of dough per cookie, I wanted them to come out super soft, not as crunchy (see how mine are thicker, and hers are thinner and oh-so-stackable)  I also didn't freeze the dough; I can be very impatient.

Here is Joy's recipe for Whole Wheat Chocolate Brown Sugar Sugar Cookies

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, fit with a paddle attachment, beat together butter and sugars.  Beat until well incorporated.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.  Add the egg.  Beat on medium speed until mixture is glossy and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Stop mixer and add the dry ingredients all at once.  Mix on low speed until all of the flour is incorporated  Stop mixer and finish incorporating ingredients with a spatula. Spoon batter out onto a sheet of waxed paper, and form loosely into a log.  Roll and seal cookie dough and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Once chilled, divide dough in half and place one half on a lightly floured counter surface.  Lightly flour a rolling pin and roll out dough to a 1/4-inch thickness.  Use a heart shaped (or whatever) cookie cutter to cut out cookies and place dough on prepared baking sheet.  Very lightly brush cookies with water and sprinkle with granulated or turbinado sugar.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.  Remove from the oven, allow to rest on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Roll and cut cookies, re-rolling the dough once or twice, until all cookies are cut and baked.

Cookies will last, in an airtight container at room temperature, for up to five days.

Take a look at Joy's list of recipes--they'll make you want to bake for days!

March 16, 2011

Chi-O Cookies 2011 Part III: DIY Cupcake Stands

Literally made these the day of Chi-O Cookies.  Since we were short on time and tight on budget, my goal was to create centerpieces that doubled as dessert stands.  Presenting Candy Land Cupcake Stands made straight from the game board!  This project was super easy and inexpensive.  The board games are from thrift stores, wine glasses from the dollar tree, and one dollar movie-sized candy boxes from Target.
Candy Lands as far as the eye can see...
Attach wine glasses to board with a really strong glue.

Fill glasses with colorful candy of choice.

Cut another game board in half, finish off edges with black paint, and glue to wine glass rims.  Finish off with the little gingerbread playing pieces!  See Part II for more decor ideas.

Chi-O Cookies 2011 Part II: The Decor

Grande iced latte in hand and absolutely no sleep the night before, my amazing Philanthropy Committee and I turned our whole sorority house into a Candyland of desserts.  It was a true all-you-can-eat dessert buffet.  From homemade apple pies to oreo cake pops, vegan peanut butter fudge and almond rocha, my XΩ sisters really outdid themselves!  For DIY cupcake stand instructions, see Part III.   
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Started with a quick sketch...
...and had it turned into this AMAZING logo!  These were our shirts :)
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Bunting is all the rage these days, check out this one at The Pretty Blog.
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The results of the Candy Land cupcake centerpieces made from a total of 8 games!
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Placecards for the desserts, especially for the gluten-free, vegan, allergy-specific etc, all made from elements of the board game.
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Giant lollipops with a sprinkle of vintage Candy Land cards.

March 6, 2011

Chi-O Cookies 2011 Part I: The Dessert

Chi-O Cookies 2011 was a total success!  After sifting through hundreds of blogs for the past few...months...bookmarking photos and recipes for dark chocolate this and vanilla bean that, I had to come to terms with the fact that I couldn't turn our sorority house into Candyland overnight AND bake every single thing that called for flour.  It came down to whatever I could do in the 12 hours before the event.  Naturally, we pulled an all-nighter-baking-bonanza, complete with a 4am emergency frosting run to Safeway.  Here are the pictures of the cupcakes that I made (9 dozen total...yeahhh don't talk to me about it). See Part II for the decor.
Vanilla cupcakes with a caramel center, topped with brown sugar caramel frosting and sprinkled with coconut.
Chocolate Banana cupcakes  dipped in chocolate ganache and topped with a chocolate covered banana.
Dark chocolate cupcake with a chocolate ganache center, topped with vanilla frosting with caramel drizzle.SO. DELICIOUS.
And blue + green cupcakes for Dr. Seuss's birthday! The plastic cupcake containers were perfect for transporting them all to the Chi-O House, I picked some up from the grocery store for a dollar a piece.