Sunday, September 9, 2012

#WTFSEPT Photography Challenge - Days 7-9

Day 7 - now playing
Here you can see that I am incredibly dorky since I own the Harry Potter version of Clue. I was tempted to take a picture of my Simpsons chess set, which is even cooler than this, but I guess I don't care enough about y'all to set up all of those pieces just for a photo. Sorry. Your loss.

Day 8 - I am _____
This one's an easy one. I am evil. There. Done. Good thing NJ and Hell have pretty much the same landscape so the view outside the bedroom window really works for this photo.

Day 9 - on the run

No, today's picture did not turn out as I'd hoped. No, I didn't even bother to go for a run today. The best I managed was putting on my running shoes for this photo. Bad me.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

#WTFSEPT Photography Challenge - Days 5 & 6

Day 5 - flare

 Oh look, I happen to own a pair of flared Lululemon pants. I knew they would come in handy one of these days.

Day 6 - bright
That's right. Today's theme is bright and I have egotistically posted a photo of myself. In case you weren't already convinced that I'm bright, I went ahead and wore my nerdy glasses. Poor vision = intelligence, right?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

#WTFSEPT Photography Challenge - Day 4

Day 4 - sweat
Today's theme isn't particularly pretty. Sweat. Great. How am I going to maintain my aura of ladylike sophistication if I have to show y'all my sweat?

The other day I had a particularly ridiculous bout of vanity when I seriously considered skipping my workout because my hair looked so good. Of course, I quickly realized how silly I was being and did my usual workout as penance for those donuts I'd indulged in, giving up my perfectly straight, shiny locks for a frizzy, curly mess atop my head. Probably a wise trade-off. This is how awful my hair looks when I get done working out. Not exactly glamorous, eh? But hey, it's a sign that I worked hard and don't have to feel too guilty about all of those cupcakes I eat.

Monday, September 3, 2012

#WTFSEPT Photography Challenge - Day 3

Day 3 - reflection

You know us girls. Sometimes when we look in the mirror we simply don't like what we see. It's almost as if there's a monster staring back at us.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

What the Focus September Photography Challenge - Day 2

Here are are again. Yet another photography challenge. Prepare yourself for the onslaught of photos. Fortunately for the both of us this one only lasts 30 days. Because it's hosted by Lululemon, a workout clothing company, many of the prompts are fitness related. Perhaps this challenge will serve two purposes: force me to get my camera back out and keep me motivated to do my daily workouts.

Of course, I already outwitted them and came up with a wildly unhealthy picture for the first prompt.

Day 1 - centre

I behaved myself with the second prompt, "set the bar(re)," and came up with something suitable.  At the recommendation of a friend, I recently added some Pure Barre DVDs to my workout routine. They're a grueling combination of ballet, pilates, weight training, and even a little kickboxing. Definitely heavy-duty work for the lower body. There are long sections of exercises done en pointe, or at least as high up on my tippy toes as I can manage. By the end of it I'm usually cursing the instructor and her entire family, pets included. My poor little legs. This stuff had better be working!

Day 2 - set the bar(re)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Lemon Rolls With Lemon Cream Cheese Icing

I began this long holiday weekend planning to make another batch of lemon pull apart bread. I'd been looking forward to it all week and the big bag of lemons sitting in my fruit basket teased and tantalized me with the promise of delicious baked goods. So what changed that plan? 

I discovered another photography challenge I'm tempted to try. You may have noticed I flaked out and gave up on the photography challenge I began at the beginning of the year. I have a million excuses from life getting in the way to my camera crapping out on me but the bottom line is I lost my mojo and haven't felt like picking up my camera for a while. I guess I go through phases like that in my life. A friend sent me the link to a photography challenge hosted by Lululemon, a workout clothing company that I've become more than a little obsessed with. I figure if I spend so much of my life working out I might as well invest a little in looking and feeling cute while I do it. Anyway, the challenge features 30 days of prompts that look to combine my love of being healthy with my love of photography. Let's ignore the fact that today's picture focuses more on butter and sugar than healthy living. It was such a simple switcheroo to find a lemon roll recipe that incorporated the same elements as that lemon pull apart bread, thus perfectly meeting the qualifications for today's photography theme: Centre. We all know the center is the best part of the roll.

The recipe I found was so similar to the pull apart bread that I knew it would be just as delicious. The recipe upped the yummy quotient by adding ginger and nutmeg, two of my favorite things. As I expected, the lemon flavor is strong in this one. Just the way I like it. Eating a few of these in place of lunch was a great way to kick off the holiday weekend.

Lemon Rolls with Lemon Cream Cheese Icing
Recipe adapted from The Kitchn 

For the dough:
1 envelope (0.25 ounces, or 2 1/2 teaspoons) active yeast

3/4 cup milk, warmed to about 100°F (warm but not hot on your wrist)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, very soft, plus 3 tablespoons more for roll assembly
1/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (you may not use it all)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 large eggs
Zest of one lemon

For the sticky lemon filling:
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
Zest of two lemons
Juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons orange zest

For the lemon cream cheese glaze:
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
Juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons milk
2/3 cup powdered sugar

Make the dough:
In the bowl of a stand mixer sprinkle the yeast over the warmed milk and let it sit for a few minutes or until foamy. With the mixer paddle, stir the softened butter, sugar, vanilla, and one cup of the flour into this milk and yeast mixture. Stir in the salt, nutmeg, and the lemon zest. Stir in the eggs and enough of the remaining flour to make a soft yet sticky dough.

Switch to the dough hook and knead for about 5 minutes, or until the dough is elastic and pliable.

(If you do not have a stand mixer, stir together the ingredients by hand, then turn the soft dough out onto a lightly floured countertop. Knead the dough by hand for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the dough is smooth, pliable, and stretchy.)

Lightly grease the top of the dough with vegetable oil, and turn the dough over so it is coated in oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a towel and let the dough rise until nearly doubled — about one hour.

Make the filling:
In a small bowl, mix 1 cup sugar with the nutmeg and ginger, then work in the lemon zest (1/3) with the tips of your fingers until the sugar resembles soft sand. Slowly pour in the lemon juice, stirring. Stop when the sugar and lemon juice form a thick, clumpy mixture like wet sand. (You may not use all of the lemon juice depending on how much juice you got from your lemon.)

Assemble the rolls:
Lightly grease a 13x9-inch baking dish or two 9" cake pans with baking spray or butter. On a floured surface pat the dough out into a large yet still thick rectangle — about 10x15 inches.

Spread the dough evenly with 3 tablespoons of very soft unsalted butter, then spread the lemon-sugar mixture over top. Roll the dough up tightly, starting from the top long end. Stretch and pull the dough taut as you roll, to keep the lemon sugar firm inside. Cut the long dough roll into 12 even rolls. Pinch the bottom of each roll closed to help keep the lemon sugar inside, and place each one, open and cut side up, in the prepared baking dish.

Cover the rolls with a towel and let them rise for an hour or until puffy and nearly doubled. (You can also refrigerate the rolls at this point. Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap or a towel, and place it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. When you are ready to bake the rolls, remove the pan from the fridge, and let them rise for an hour before proceeding with baking.)

Heat the oven to 350°F. Place the risen rolls in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into a center roll reads 190°F. Check the rolls after 20 minutes and if they're getting dark on top cover loosely with foil for the remainder of the baking time.

Make the glaze:
While the rolls are baking, prepare the glaze. In a small food processor (or with a mixer, or a sturdy whisk), whip the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the lemon juice and blend until well combined. Add the milk and the powdered sugar and blend until smooth and creamy.

Finish the rolls:
When the rolls are done, smear them with the cream cheese glaze. Let cool for about 10 minutes before serving, but do serve while still warm.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Guest Post at love.bug -- Chocolate Chunk Blueberry Cupcakes

I've done another guest post for the lovely Amy at love.bug. Today's cupcake involves lots of chocolate in the form of chocolate cake, chocolate chunks, and chocolate ganache. But I assure you they're actually a health food since I included blueberries in there as well. That makes it nutritious, right?

Head on over to take a peek at my chocolate chunk cupcakes bursting with blueberry pie filling, topped with blueberry buttercream, and drizzled with rich chocolate ganache. You won't be sorry!