Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Reading Frenzy in Denver, CO.

Here's something strange: it's almost time for me to pack up again and move home from Denver. Hopefully I won't be there long. a. I can never sit still too long, and lately home's been making me real restless, and b. I can't wait to start a job in publishing. No doubt about it; after being fully immersed in the publishing world for the last three weeks, I know this is what I want to do. Now I just need to convince a publishing house to let me come work there!

It's been great here in Denver, but there are definitely a few things I miss...such as having baking supplies. We have a little kitchen here in my room, and it's nice enough. We've made some frozen pizzas, many grilled cheeses, and even a few omelettes, but I don't have the money to go get baking supplies for just this month (although we might make no-bake cookies this week if we have time amidst all the interview-craze!). I should note, however, that I have the most amazing mother ever, who knew I'd be missing my usual cupcake habit and sent me these adorable mini cupcakes from Happy Cakes Bakeshop here in Denver.

They were both adorable and incredibly delicious. Plus, they were mini--so I can be excused for eating five at a time, right?

I'm a bit out of my element in that respect, I'll admit, but something else has changed for the better. I finally feel like myself again in my reading habits! Since I've been here, I've read quite a few books for pleasure, as well as many pieces of manuscripts as assignments for the program.

Just before I came, I finished The Hunger Games, the first in Suzanne Collins's action-packed YA trilogy. I had decided to wait a little while before starting the second book, but when my suitemate had it, raved about it, and quickly finished it, I couldn't resist borrowing it. Now, we're eagerly awaiting the third coming for her in the mail. I may not have time to finish it before I head home, but I'll certainly be reading Mockingjay sometime soon.

Next, I powered through Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, a novel I had been meaning to read for a long time. While I definitely liked it, and I found the voice and narrative structure very interesting, for some reason I couldn't get as involved in it as I like to in my pleasure reading. Nevertheless, I get to cross it off my list, and I am glad to have read it.

I laughed, I cried (okay, okay...I laughed so hard I cried. Multiple times). Tina Fey's book was smart, hilarious, and insightful. I couldn't put it down, and I also couldn't stop reading passages aloud (okay, okay...trying to read them aloud but crumbling into fits of laughter and tears).

Chris Crutcher has been one of my favorite YA authors since Mr. Sikora's class in the seventh grade. So when Virginia Duncan, the children's book editor at Greenwillow came to speak last week and brought her display of books, you can bet I was pretty excited to see a new Chris Crutcher book up there. As always, I credit this author with touching on issues that many people seem to shy away from talking with young people about. Certainly there are things in all of his books (this one bearing no exception) that are difficult to handle, and difficult for me to wrap even my now-adult mind around, but each is carefully crafted and worth reading. There are many reasons I am interested in a career in book publishing, as well as many reasons why I have always been interested in YA. Chris Crutcher is one of those reasons.

He's cute, he's hilarious, and he draws his own comics! What's not to love about Lincoln Peirce's Big Nate? The style reminded me a bit of the Amelia's Notebooks series I used to read as a kid, but for a slightly younger audience and with (if I'm remembering correctly) a slightly longer book. So cute.

Now, I'm starting on Kirk Farber's Postcard's from a Dead Girl. More to come on that soon. Bake something yummy for me! Cupcakes to come when I get home...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Stuffed Pancakes

Remember my mention that I had a little bit of the cheesecake filling leftover from the cheesecake stuffed cupcakes I made a couple of days ago? Well, I obviously couldn't let that just go to waste...

I didn't have very much left, but I didn't want to just make one small thing, and it's got raw egg in it, so I wanted to make sure I cooked it at least a little. I quickly (and kind of randomly) came up with the idea to make a sort of stuffed pancake...what a success. I just made my batter as usual (adding lots of cinnamon, my "secret" ingredient). Then, I tried to semi-evenly distribute small drops of the filling around the pancake.

Then I added just another small spoonful batter on top so that I would be cooking the cheesecake inside the cakes rather than letting the filling ever actually touch the pan.

Mmm. I think the result simply reaffirms the obvious: everything is better with cheesecake.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Cheesecake Love

I almost never do this, but in all the holiday hoopla yesterday, I never got to take a picture of the wonderful cheesecake desserts I've made over the last couple of days. Nevertheless, I think anyone reading this blog deserves the recipes, at the very least to know that these amazing ideas are out there. A couple of days ago, I made these wonderful cheesecake stuffed cupcakes. Although the cupcakes themselves turned out really good, and I'm definitely not complaining about having a little cheesecake filling leftover, I've still got a lot to learn about frosting with the two-toned frosting. I'm working on it though (and I promise that the lack of pictures of my attempts isn't because of my embarrassment--I'll post some of my next attempt no matter how messy). I also made a cheesecake ball to bring to my cousins' birthday-fourth-of-july barbecue yesterday, which also turned out quite delicious and was beyond easy. I'll definitely be filing this recipe away to use again!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Junior Mints

Usually, I just want to bake. Anything and everything, and I choose from one of the hundreds of recipes I've got saved up to try. Sometimes, though, I find a recipe that I feel compelled to try out almost immediately--this, for some reason, was one of those recipes.

Megan and I decided to have ourselves a cupcake day; she tried out my lemon cupcakes with a raspberry variation of the fresh berry buttercream frosting, and I made these amazing Junior Mint cupcakes that I found on a blog called Domestic Fits. Complete with a chocolate ganache and a Junior Mint on top, these cupcakes were nothing short of gorgeous--and a huge hit.

Not only were these cupcakes really yummy, they also made for some super cute pictures.

And now for the real bonus...they were also incredibly easy to make, and the cake turned out just as light and fluffy as cake sometimes seems only to do when made from boxed cake mix. Deeeelicious, and also a truly impressive little cake.