of the Mind: Cupcakes and Technology

Move locations, eat locally

Tuesday, July 22, 2008
On June 26 my boyfriend broke up with me, and from June 27-30 I packed all my worldly belongings into a PODS container and became lease-free. On June 28 I decided to move to California, and on June 29 I called my boss on her vacation and told her so. On July 12 I moved to California, job entact, and The Omnivore's Dilemma in hand. I feel a little guilty about jumping on a food trend, but people:

Everything is made of corn!!!1

I'm living in Oakland, CA which happens to be an awesome place to have this foodie existential crisis. I got rushed through my trip to Berkeley Bowl so I'm not sure where my tomatoes came from, but they were organic and heirloom, so that's a step in the right direction. I'm trying to address a lot of things in my life, and among these are health/food and also finding a direction for blogging about my interests (food, technology, politics, young-people-things). I love how Use Real Butter has food (tons of it) but also nature and personal stuff mixed in without ever getting boring. I need to refine my blogging, but to do so, I need to WRITE.

And buy a better camera.

I'm using my BB Curve right now, which is a decent shot, but not going to make your mouth water. I will leave you with a shot of my lunch today. Peacock melon...rather bland, not unlike cantaloupe. It should be in season, but I'm willing to give it the benefit of the doubt that it just wasn't ripened enough.

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Posted by Caitlin @ 11:26 PM - Permanent link

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(Healthy) Delicious Pizza

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Hungry and wanting to be good and make my own dinner, I planned out the master pizza of healthiness.

Two pre-made pizza crusts
Yellow bell pepper
Tomato, yellow
Toamto, red plum
Mushrooms, portobello
Onion, yellow
chicken breast
marinated artichokes
Mozerella, part-skim
Ricotta, part-skim
Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Cracked black pepper
Fresh basil
Fresh parsley

A sane person may have realized this was overkill, but I was trying to get all the colors of veggies and cover my protein bases as well.

Started by chopping everything up that wanted to be chopped. I bought chicken breast already in tenders and cut them length-wise and then in about 1/2 inch segments. The eggplant is pretty thin, kind of like a thick tomato slice. Everything else is diced or cut in a pretty standard way.

Mis en place

In a large sautee pan I poured quite a bit of olive oil and heated on medium. Tossed in a liberal amount of garlic and let it flavor the oil for a minute. Tossed in the onions and cooked until they started to get soft. Added the asparagus tips and cooked for a few minutes until they started to brighten in color. I then moved all of those elements to the edges of the pan and tossed in the mushrooms. Cooked on each side until the mushroom was pliable and brown. Removed everything from the pan. Turned the heat up to a medium-high and tossed in the eggplant. D likes scorched eggplant, so that's how I prepped it. Remove everything from heat.

Simultaneously in another pan, toss the chicken and chopped up marinated artichoke hearts (including all the juice/oil) in at medium-high temp. Cook until the chicken is done and all the sauce has simmered away. You don't have to marinate ahead of time, but I did while I was chopping veggies. This is a delicious way to flavor chicken for any recipe.

Turn the over to 425F. Place pre-cooked pizza crust on cookie sheet and drizzle olive oil on top. There's no particular order to how to add the veggies...do what feels right.

Eggplant layered on bottom, followed by asparagus and onions with basil-parsley mix tossed on top.

Everything I've made lately has parsley in it because I bought a head of it the other day and MAN does it last forever. I have two baby plants in the front yard that I'm trying not to kill, and once they're successful I will be able to use parsley at will.

Mushrooms and bell pepper. Nothing says neurotic like symmetrical pizza.

That's looking pretty good, right? This is the point where I realize I've filled the pizza and it's probably delicious and I have a bazillion ingredients left to add. So, for once I act sanely and decide this pizza is done (or is about to be) and I should make another one.

Added a mix of mozzarella and parmesan to the healthy delicious pizza (went light on the cheese so I could try and call it healthy). Put it in the oven.

Second pizza, same deal with the olive oil and the cookie sheet. Spread the chicken artichoke mix evenly over the surface. Added the two colors of tomatoes, making pretty patterns as is my wont. Now is the part where I really go crazy. I take my jar or pre-diced garlic (you know, the stuff in the veggie section) and I just chunk a glob of garlic bits on every. single. tomato. !!! But I love garlic and it's good for you, so to hell with it. I also tossed bits of part-skim ricotta around the tomatoes. Sprinkle with lots of fresh basil and some parsley, a crack or two of black pepper and a sprinkle of good quality balsamic vinegar.


By the time I was done assembling, the pizza in the oven was done (first pic). Probably less than 15 minutes. The chicken pizza wasn't as photogenic, but it sure is delicious...

Posted by Caitlin @ 10:42 PM - Permanent link

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Chicken with Toasted Feta over Bulgur Wheat

Monday, February 11, 2008

Made this for dinner the other night. I used a recipe from the Betty Crocker Cookbook for Women, which is a much more awesome book than the name would originally imply. It's very simple, quick, healthy and easy to remember. I cooked my bulgar wheat in chicken broth to give it some more oomph.

The salad I just came up with. It was (in no particular proportion) avacado, pear, red pepper - tossed in pear vinaigrette, topped with sugared pecans and bacon bits. It was random and pretty tasty, but my pear and avocado weren't ripe enough.

Feta-Topped Chicken with Bulgur (from Cookbook for Women)


4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1.25 lbs)
2 T balsamic vinaigrette dressing
1 t Italian seasoning
1/2 t seasoned pepper
2/3 c uncooked bulgur wheat
2 c water (or chicken/vegetable broth)
1 large plum (Roma) tomato, cut into 8 slices
1/4 c crumbled feta cheese (1oz)

I love feta, so I cheated and tossed some into the bulgur as well.

1. Set oven control to broil. Brush both sides of chicken breasts with dressing. Sprinkle both sides with Italian seasoning and seasoned pepper. Place on rack in broiler pan.

2. Broil with tops 4 inches from heat about 10 minutes, turning once, until juice of chicken is clear when center of thickest part is cut (170 degrees F).

3. Meanwhile, cook bulgur in water as directed on package, omitting salt. (My bulgur came out of a bin at Whole Foods, so I had to look this up. Basically, cook it like rice and put in double the amount of liquid as dry ingredient, cook on medium-low until water is gone.)

4. Top chicken with tomato and cheese. Broil 2-3 minutes longer or until cheese is slightly browned. Serve with bulgur.
Posted by Caitlin @ 12:05 AM - Permanent link

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Disney virgin

Thursday, February 07, 2008
I embarked on my first trip to Walt Disney World recently, and let me tell you, I love Epcot. If Celebration is anything like the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, then it might not be as bad as I've always been told. While there, I visited The Land (sponsored by Nestlé) and took the Living With The Land boat tour. It was very cool, but I left with a slight sense of unease about the propagandistic experience I'd just had. Perhaps it's just liberal paranoia, but I don't quite trust Nestlé to be pushing the frontier on eco-friendly, sustainable hydroponics. While the facts in the ride seems to be fairly accurate, it all had the feel of sub-propaganda, i.e., good will efforts done ahead of time by an entity upon a population that it may one day later need to brainwash. And while the Mickey Mouse headed pumpkins were cute, I'd rather not indoctrinate children to accept food that no longer comes in a natural shape.

A little bit of Google-ing turned up this excellent article that totally reinforced my thoughts and expressed my opinion more eloquently than I can. The truly interesting part comes in at the comments section. I'm trying to be truly open-minded these days and look past my prejudices, and the commenters bring up some relevant facts and counter-opinions to the article. I've modified my feelings on Living With The Land somewhat, and I think Disney World is actually incredible for getting fat-ass middle Americans to walk miles and miles and miles each day, but I stand firm on the negative impact they've had on Florida's environment.

More to come on The Land...

p.s. Watched the space shuttle launch today. Check out the animated Building the ISS, it's way cool!

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Posted by Caitlin @ 11:55 PM - Permanent link

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It's alive!

Thursday, January 03, 2008
From the NYTimes:

Craig Ferguson, whose show is owned by Mr. Letterman’s company, also won a reprieve from the guild. (He likened it to having “diplomatic immunity.”) He bragged that the Internet predicted that, because celebrities might be reluctant to cross picket lines in front of NBC, his show would likely draw A-list stars, then boldly did an hour of comedy routines about the strike without any big name celebrities. (Unless you count Tim Meadows, formerly of “Saturday Night Live.”)

Overlooking the truly terribly run-on nature of that sentence, since when is THE INTERNET a personal subject (in the grammatical sense)? As in, "I was on the couch making out with the Internet the other day, and she was like 'baby, get your hands off my tits.'"

The entire article is highly opinionated, but not labeled as such. Unless the whole Television section is, but that's not very clear to the unacquainted. I'm disappointed that the NYT missed the chance to reference strike!beard...oh, and that they are employing crappy writers.
Posted by Caitlin @ 7:43 AM - Permanent link

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Night of 10,000 cupcakes

Monday, October 15, 2007
It's become a bit of a tradition at my office for me to bring in cupcakes on anyone's birthday. Brandon's is today, so when he approached me about cupcakes I was more than happy to oblige. We brain stormed and came up with this compass:

Things That Are Good:

Things That Are Bad:

This led me to the really interesting idea of a seafood cupcake. I've actually got quite a few brilliant ideas for this, but it'll have to wait until later. It appears that Brandon and I have very similar tastes in baked goods, so I decided to make two batches of mini-cakes.

1) Mint mocha cupcakes

Rich Chocolate Cupcakes Filled with Chocolate-Mint Ganache with Topped with Mint Buttercream by Chockylit

I went by the book with this one for the most part. The only major changes were the use of Godiva's espresso dark chocolate and the addition of instant coffee into the cupcake batter to make chocolate-espresso cupcakes, and the use of cream cheese instead of butter in the frosting. Try as I might, I just hate homemade buttercream and working with it makes me want to gag.

These were very good. The only thing that was really wrong was that I used 1 bar of 100% cacoa chocolate and 1 bar of semi-sweet. The ganache was pretty bitter because of this. It was still delicious for people who like the taste of real chocolate, but a bit intense for some others (notably kids). It was all part of my secret plan not to have to share, anyway.

2) Chococarmel

Chocolate-espresso cupcakes with Heath Bar/dulce de leche filling and salted buttercream frosting

The cupcake is Chockylit's classic chocolate recipe, again with the addition of about 2 T instant coffee.

To add a filling to the cupcake after baking, use a serrated knife to cut all around the top of the cupcake with the intent to pull out a conical piece. Cut the tip off the top and then replace after you're done filling. The filling is a variant on the "Better Than Sex" cake concept. First, I roughly chopped Heath Bars and filled the centers.

I then heated condensed milk with some left over salted caramel (see below) and then poured the hot mixture over the Heath crumbles. You can also mix caramel ice cream topping with the condensed milk. I usually use a 1:1 ratio for this, but I didn't have very much leftover caramel.

The frosting is an adaptation of this Salted Caramel Frosting and Tartlette's too-die-for salted caramel recipe. I am obsessed with this caramel and had planned to use it as a filling when I hit Cupcake Bakeshop to get the cupcake recipe and 'lo and behold the latest recipe had caramel frosting! I wouldn't have been brave enough to try this on my own, but I was brave enough to make some alterations. I cut out one stick of butter and only used a box (16oz) of powdered sugar. It sets up hard in the fridge, and the lower sugar content allowed the caramel flavor to come through strongly.

The cupcakes were a hit at work. I'm usually very critical of my work and rarely eat more than a bite, but I can't get enough of the Chococarmel! I'm not sure what I'm going to have to try in order to beat these.

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Posted by Caitlin @ 6:34 AM - Permanent link

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beta beta beta

There, I finally made a change. There's very little I like about this layout, aside from the fact that it's not what I usually (used to) do. It's a change, and a usable change. I need to review some relative sizing information, as internet explorer can't seem to handle my tables, and the box object model is so off I'm surprised it works at all. I think I have it mostly cross-browser, but not appropriately resolution flexible. Hey people with small screens or poor eye sight: suck it!

The idea for this layout is very simple. 1) The blog. 2) Flickr photos. These are mainly baking photos, but may also include some trip photos now and then. 3) Cat photos. Of course, pictures of one's pets are annoying but my friend Cathy uses images of Penelope and Lion-o! to destress, so I decide a playful take on Dooce's Chuck photos would be apropos for now. 4) Extra tidbits. This part is still in alpha, obviously.

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Posted by Caitlin @ 3:08 AM - Permanent link

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This makes riding a bicycle look like cake

Tuesday, September 04, 2007
This is hard.

I am so desperate that I'm using <table> to format the design.

It's the middle of the night, and I'm trying to create a new design for my blog. I've been experimenting with the different free publishing sites and I think I'm happiest with Blogger. Vox is a cool site with a lot of connectivity, but there's something DIY about Blogger that I like. Or maybe just the freedom to build onto it as I see fit, with the skills that I have earned.

Skills that I have forgotten.

I spoke with my sister Leah tonight and she continued to prod me to move out to the SF area. I'm happy where I am (for now) but the idea grows in its appeal. She suggested I look at job posting in order to better understand what I should work on in order to realize this goal. I must admit, a brief perusal of Craigslist had me salivating. What really struck me was the number of job postings that requested "hand coding ability." RLY?! I've always felt that my insistence on hand coding was anachronistic and undesirable.

So I'm trying to drag up those old ghosts, my loves, the codes.

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Posted by Caitlin @ 4:50 AM - Permanent link

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Bakery on flickr.com


Blogging and baking out of So.Fla., I am a 20-something IT professional with a penchant for cupcakes and Web 2.0. Formerly a newspaper editor and graphic designer, I like new recipes, intriguing articles, good design and anything shiny. Check back regularly for delicious recipes + photo documentation as well as leads and analysis on all things nerdy.


♠   Move locations, eat locally
♠   (Healthy) Delicious Pizza
♠   Chicken with Toasted Feta over Bulgur Wheat
♠   Disney virgin
♠   It's alive!
♠   Night of 10,000 cupcakes
♠   beta beta beta
♠   This makes riding a bicycle look like cake
♠   This is the web touching itself
♠   Ahoy 'hoy!

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