Thursday, July 18, 2013

Gluten Free Chocolate cake

Today was my first attempt ever at baking gluten free (which I proceeding to say as galuuuten for the rest of the day with my boss.  Can we all just admit right now how fun it is to say gluten?!)  A coworker only eats gluten free food and it was her birthday so I offered to make the cake for her celebration.

I had tasted this cake before because my amazing Aunt Cookie had made it for us on Palm Sunday and for my 30th birthday party but I had never made it myself so I was worried that just because the recipe was good there may be some user malfunction.  Luckily, this was not the case!  The recipe is super easy and everyone at work loved it!  I strongly recommend trying it and I plan to begin baking more of these slightly healthier creations.

Here's what you'll need:
  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 (19 ounce) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon confectioner's sugar for dusting
 


First step is to melt the chocolate.  (Sorry I didn't think to take a picture of that!)  Then rinse and drain the garbanzo beans.  Was I the only one in the world who didn't know that chick peas and garbanzo beans are the same thing?  Please tell me I'm not the only one.  Anyway, then you blend the beans/peas  and eggs until they're pretty smooth.  Next add in the sugar and baking powder.  This is a picture of the sugar and powder resting on top of the beans/peas and eggs mixture.



Next pour the melted chocolate in and blend together.  I had never used a blender before, sad I know, so I had to take a picture as they were blending, to show how they slowly mixed together.  It seemed so cool to me!



This is what it looks like once it's fully blended.



 Next pour it into a baking pan, I used square because that's what I own, but my aunt used a round pan, I think either work just fine.  But it has to be a small pan because this is a fairly thin cake already, if you used a regular sheet cake pan you'd have to double the ingredients for it to fit.  Here's my creation after baking, it looked so smooth and smelled so good!




Finely sprinkle some powder sugar on top and you're ready to go!




Here are the full written out directions.  I wish I knew where my aunt got this recipe from so that I could give that site credit, if I ever find it I will definitely update this post.  Until then, bon appetite!

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9-inch round cake pan.
  2. Place the chocolate chips into a microwave-safe bowl. Cook in the microwave for about 2 minutes, stirring every 20 seconds after the first minute, until chocolate is melted and smooth. If you have a powerful microwave, reduce the power to 50 percent.
  3. Combine the beans and eggs in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Add the sugar and the baking powder, and pulse to blend. Pour in the melted chocolate and blend until smooth, scraping down the corners to make sure chocolate is completely mixed. Transfer the batter to the prepared cake pan.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes before inverting onto a serving plate. Dust with confectioners' sugar just before serving.

Monday, July 15, 2013

It Must be True Love...

I've heard this song at least a dozen times on my bosses play list at work but I've never really listened to it until this morning on my ride in.  (I've listed the lyrics below and posted the video, just in case you haven't heard and really listened to it either!)  At first, I thought it was just another fun song to sing along to and help pass the time but as I was singing along I realized how close to home this one really hits, and it got me thinking, can this really be true love?

Have you ever told your husband you hate him?  I have!  Many times!  Practically, on a daily basis.  I say it playfully for the most part but there have been a few times that I've really just hated him.  Which reminds me of when I was a kid and I would tell my mom that I hated her.  Her response?  "That's ok, I don't like you very much right now either, but I'll never stop loving you."  Mind blown!  Who knew mom's were so insightful?!  Can you really love and hate someone at the same time?

At the same time, I wanna hug you
I wanna wrap my hands around your neck
You're an asshole but I love you

Possibly the most honest and absolutely correct words that I have to describe how I feel about Jim from time to time.  He's just such a complete asshole but at the same time, I love him and I know life would suck without him.  How can we love someone so much that we want to harm them, but then pull them back in and need them so badly?  The mind and the heart are completely baffling to me. 

And you make me so mad I ask myself
Why I'm still here, or where could I go
You're the only love I've ever known
But I hate you, I really hate you,
So much, I think it must be
True love, true love

 Clearly, Pink gets it.  And I'm glad she does, because I honestly feel like this at least several times a week and it's always worried me that maybe something was wrong.  Maybe I shouldn't be with Jim?  But then who would I be with?  How would I be able to put him behind me?  His friends are my friends.  His family is my family.  Our lives are completely connected.  Now of course, people move on from that, look at people who are married for years and years then break up, the get back up and move on without their spouse, so it would be possible for me to do it to, but I really would never want to.  I hate him so much that this must be true love.  Funny.  Weird.  But true.  Thanks, Pink!  You saved me from a life time of worrying that I was dragging out the inevitable and worrying that I'm a nut for staying with a man that I hate, some of the time.  I guess if I felt like that constantly it would be different, but as soon as the hatred hits, it dissipates and I'm back to wanting him with me every step of the way as I stumble thru this mess of a life that we've created.  I wouldn't want anyone besides him by my side and I'm lucky he feels the same way about me.

Sometimes I hate every single stupid word you say
Sometimes I wanna slap you in your whole face
There's no one quite like you
You push all my buttons down
I know life would suck without you

At the same time, I wanna hug you
I wanna wrap my hands around your neck
You're an asshole but I love you
And you make me so mad I ask myself
Why I'm still here, or where could I go
You're the only love I've ever known
But I hate you, I really hate you,
So much, I think it must be

True love, true love
It must be true love
Nothing else can break my heart like
True love, true love,
It must be true love
No one else can break my heart like you

Just once try to wrap your little brain around my feelings
Just once please try not to be so mean
Repeat after me now R-O-M-A-N-C-E-E-E
Come on I'll say it slowly (Romance)
You can do it baby

At the same time, I wanna hug you
I wanna wrap my hands around your neck
You're an asshole but I love you
And you make me so mad I ask myself
Why I'm still here, or where could I go
You're the only love I've ever known
But I hate you, I really hate you,
So much, I think it must be

True love, true love
It must be true love
Nothing else can break my heart like
True love, true love,
It must be true love
No one else can break my heart like you

I think it must be love

Why do you rub me up the wrong way?
Why do you say the things that you say?
Sometimes I wonder how we ever came to be
But without you I'm incomplete

I think it must be
True love, true love
It must be true love
Nothing else can break my heart like
True love, true love,
It must be true love
No one else can break my heart like you (like you)
No one else can break my heart like you (like you)
No one else can break my heart like you

Friday, July 12, 2013

The "I'm sorry" Experiment findings

Technically, my experiment should be ending today, but honestly a week really isn't enough time to really make a change.  I have seen and felt a change.  I'm more conscious of what I say and picking my words more wisely.  It seems like people aren't looking at me like I'm crazy so much, so that's also an added bonus.

My husband didn't even realize I was trying to change until I said something to him.  That tells me that he either doesn't pay attention or I don't apologize to him often.  Either way, he thought it was a good idea when I told him about it.

My parents haven't said that they've noticed a change, but I have been very conscious of how I react to them and what I say when they try to push me.  I've noticed that they don't seem to question me so much, perhaps it was just a good week.  Who really knows?

All I know is that I will continue to watch my words, and only apologize when it is 100% absolutely positively necessary.  Here's to the new, stronger Jess!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Pinata Cupcakes

Let me start out by saying, I'm so mad I have no pictures of my own to post on this one!  I took a million pictures, convinced myself that I had them saved on my computer, deleted them from my phone, and now I have nothing becasue they were not saved to my computer.  Hopefully, you can use your imagination because these were a big hit with my coworkers and I think they would be fantastic for a child's birthday party! 

First of all, here are the recipes that I used: 

Vanilla Cupcakes
Vanilla Frosting

I used these because I wanted easy and moist cupcakes with a tastey frosting, and because my coworkers had requested a vanilla cupcake instead of the fancy ones I had been trying (and will have to attempt again so that I can post them here!)  Honestly, you can use an recipe you'd like, even boxed mixes would work, that's not nearly as imporant as what your'e going to do after you bake them and before you frost them.

Step 1: Bake Cupcakes
Step 2: Cool Cupcakes
Step 3: Cut the center of the cupcake out.  I then cut this so that only the top would go back on the cupcake, I used the insides to make a few cake balls (I'll post that recipe another time.)
Step 4: Fill cupckaes with your choice of small candy.  I choose m&ms but you can use nerds, skittles, reese's, the options are endless so long as it fits in the cupcake.
Step 5: Place the top of the cupcake back on
Step 6: Ice with your choice of frosting
Step 7: Grab a napkin and enjoy!

The final product will look similar to this when you open it:




It will be a crowd favorite and you will get requests!  Have fun and if you try any combination besides what I did, please let me know!  I'd love to hear your ideas!

Friday, July 5, 2013

The "I'm sorry" experiment

My name is Jessica and I am an abuser of the phrase "I'm sorry."  Everyone who knows me, knows this is true.  I apologize for everything and it's annoying.  I know it's a problem but I didn't realize just how bad it was until the other night I ordered a beer at the bar, the bartender spilled it, and I said "I'm sorry."  She looked at me like I had 2 heads, why would I apologize for her mistake?  I just blushed and said "sorry, I can't help myself," took my beer, and booked it to the back room where Jim was playing darts.  This was the first time, after years of being told to stop apologizing, that I actually felt that I had to stop and think about what I was doing, why I was doing it, and how I could make it stop!

A few weeks earlier, a coworker and I had a disagreement that led to us being called in to my boss's office privately.  I offered to apologize to smooth things over, even though it wasn't my fault, and my boss told me no.  She said that she sees apologizing as a sign of weakness and she would not allow me to apologize for something someone else did.  Weakness?  I never thought of it that way.  I always thought it was being polite, or considerate of the people around me, I never thought that it made me weak.  But, after the incident in the bar, I felt like the weakest person in the world.  What is wrong with me?  Why am I so weak?

For as long as I can remember, I've had a problem with guilt.  I feel guilty for everything!  I'm sorry I'm not a good enough daughter, wife, coworker, employee, etc...  I'm sorry for not making enough money and finally make my parents proud of me.  I'm sorry for messing up dinner or not washing a certain piece of clothing on time.  I'm sorry when I mess up a supply order, mishear a name on a phone call, or even when I have to go to the bathroom and leave my coworkers to cover the phones without me.  Are these things really something that I need to feel so guilty about that they make me sick?  They make me cry?  They keep me up at night!  No! NO! NO!

I need to learn to be OK with me, and be the best me that I can be, instead of apologizing for any short comings I may have, and now apologizing for others short comings, I need to start emphasizing and focusing on my strengths so that I won't be so weak.  I need to take a step back and think about what I'm saying.  Instead of just throwing around "I'm sorry" every chance I get, I should think what I really need to say.  For instance, a typical phone call at work goes something like this:

Me: Thank you for calling Plus logistics.  How may I help you.?
Client: Hi I'm calling from North Shore Endo and I need to order... etc etc
Me: I'm sorry, I can't seem to find you in the system.  I'm sorry can you tell me the name of your office again?
Client:  North Shore Endo
Me: OK, I found you, I'm sorry about that.  I'm sorry, what did you say you need to order?

I think you get the idea, so I'll spare you from going any further.  Instead of doing this, I need to stop and think.  The client would be just as happy if the conversation went more like this:

Me: Thank you for calling Plus logistics.  How may I help you?
Client: Hi I'm calling from North Shore Endo and I need to order... etc etc
Me: I can't seem to find you in the system.  Could you please tell me the name of your office again?
Client:  North Shore Endo
Me: OK, I found you.  What did you need to order?

As long as I'm polite, there is really no need for the apologies, especially since it's not my fault that they speak so fast and tell you so much at once.  I'm still trying to find them in the system and they're telling me the 15 things they want to order.  I know they're busy, but I am too, and if they want the right supplies, they'll deal with any questions I have because they won't be happy if they call back in 3 days because they received the wrong supplies.

As for feeling guilty and apologizing for how I am as a daughter or wife, I need to just stop focusing on the bad, because I know for a fact the good far outweighs the bad.  I need to be strong and stand up for myself and not allow others to constantly point out the negative.  If someone tries to bring me down I will just have to turn it around and emphasize the good.  I can no longer allow myself to be weak, no one is going to make me strong except me, this is what I must do to make myself relax, feel better, and be better.

I'm going to do an experiment to see if I can get myself to stop apologizing and start being a stronger person.  Here is my plan for the experiment: 
  1. Take a breath before I speak.  Think about what I'm about to say.  Do not allow myself to say "I'm sorry" unless it is actually necessary.  I'd say 9 times out of 10 I have done nothing wrong, certainly nothing that requires an apology, so this behavior needs to stop and it needs to stop now!
  2. When anyone does start to give me a problem for something I'm not doing the way they want it done, I will gently remind them that I'm doing the best that I can and remind them of something that I do well or have completed.  So the next time Jim gets mad that I didn't cook dinner by 7 pm, I'll smile and tell him "I'm doing the best I can, after working all day and dealing with rush hour traffic.  I will have it ready soon, maybe you can help me out and we'll get it done faster."  The next time my mother and father remind me that I'm broke and I have "no direction or drive," I'll have to tell them "I'm doing the best I can.  I have a lot of drive, my problem is that I'm just not sure what I really want to pursue.  In the mean time, I'm a stand out employee at my job, and I'm in management training.  I think that's a great step forward considering I had no background in lab work or logistics a year ago when I took this job."  I may have to change up what I say or how I approach situations, but for now, this is my plan.
 I'm beginning this experiment now- Friday July 5, 2013 at 2 pm.  I'm going to give it all I've got for a week and I'll report back to you all on the 12th.  In the mean time, I'd love to hear from you! 

Do you say I'm sorry a lot?  Why do you do it?  Are you willing to give this experiment a try?

Do you have any suggestions for me to be a better, stronger me?  I'm always open to constructive criticism.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

4th of July- Red Solo Cup Wreath

Happy 4th of July and God bless America!

To celebrate and show our patriotism, I decided to make a special wreath for our front door.  I found the instructions on pinterest (where else?) and thought it would be a quick, easy project.  Boy, was I wrong!  It took me forever to find the colored solo cups that I wanted, turned out they were in the dollar store on the back highway in Bayonne, then I had some troubles putting the whole thing together, but over all this was a great project and I'm proud of myself for sticking with it.  Here we go...

When I finally had all the "ingredients," I laid everything out in my living room and got to work.  First I set up which cups I needed, in the pattern I wanted- 13 blue to represent the 13 stars on the first flag, then strips of 2 red and 2 white to represent our stripes.  Once that was done, I put a strip of double sided tape along the top of each cup, and folded over a piece to make it a little thicker on the cups side.



I realize now that you really can't see the tape on my cups, but hopefully you get the idea!  Next, I started sticking them together, as you can see with the blue cups in the picture above.  I didn't measure them out so that they all had the exact spacing, I just stuck them together until it made a circle.  In retrospect, I should have measured, but I was too excited to get it together to actually take the time. Here's what it looked like once it was all fitted together.


Now comes the fun part!  Hot glue time!  You have to hot glue them together because the double sided tape just isn't enough to hold them all together.  I glued on the inside where they were closest to each other.  Once I glued them all together, I let them dry and tried to pick it up... this is what happened....






Frustrated doesn't even begin to describe how I felt about that! But I was not going to quit on my wreath!  I got back to work, found the weak links and started gluing again.  My husband had a great laugh at my expense!  I glued and glued and glued.  You can see some of the glue when you get really close.


Once it was set, I flipped it over and glued it on the other side as well.  It's quite possible that I went a bit overboard with the glue, but I don't care.  Why?  Because it's staying together!  Here's the final product!  It's a little uneven, but it's staying together, it's unique to my neighborhood, and I made it myself, so of course I love it!



I call this an official pinterest win!  I strongly suggest that you try making one!  How could you not love a red solo cup (sung as Toby Keith) wreath, especially for the 4th of July?  Oh, and it will be staying up all summer.  Honestly, I wish I had made it in May because it works for Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day.  Winning all around!

Time to get ready for a day by the pool with friends, family, good food, and beer!  (This is my last holiday before I get pregnant, fingers crossed, so I'm planning on living it up!)

Have a great day and happy crafting!