Sweet Failures and a Delicious Dessert

Sweet Failures and a Delicious Dessert

5/23/13 — In Denzel Washington’s UPenn commencement speech, he said “

I was reminded of this concept recently, when my dear friend Andrea shared pictures of the birthday cake she tried to make for her niece.

Here was her inspiration.


…and here was her creation.



Andrea clearly recognized at a certain point that the whole thing was a bust, but she still “finished” the project, took a picture and unashamedly relayed the experience at work.  I dig that.  Between Facebook and PhotoShop, you would be tempted to think there’s no such thing as imperfection or failure.  But the truth is, we all fall on our faces sometimes. No offense girl.

Molasses Cookie - use

I made these recently, and a friend told me they “taste like a foot.” And now I know something about him.

At that UPenn graduation, Denzel also pointed-out that Thomas Edison failed a thousand times with his landmark endeavor.  Finally attempt #1,001 yielded the light bulb.  His advice for 2011 grads:  “Fall forward.  Every failed experiment is one step closer to success.”

I’d say Andrea definitely “fell forward” in her baking (from the looks of it, she landed directly on the cake).  But I admire the way she ventured outside of the box (in multiple senses) and just went for it.  She handled the subsequent disaster pretty well too, first with a whimper, but then with a fork, camera and hearty laugh.  A few days later she tried again, and crafted the cutest Little Mermaid-themed sweets ever.  Just look at this stuff!


Like Denzel says, a resilient spirit can serve us so well, and it ultimately leads to some form of deliciousness.  It may not be a cake, but it will still be sweet!

So thank you for the inspiration, my sweet friend.  I think it’s motivation for us all to brush-off our respective smushed  cakes, and just keep on cookin.’


Andrea’s Rainbow Cupcakesandrea_cupcake_bite

Betty Crocker White cake mix (plus ingredients called for on the package)
Several shades of food coloring
Cupcake papers
Stiff icing recipe here, add blue food coloring as desired

Follow the instructions on the box to prepare the cake batter.  Once the batter is mixed, divide it amongst five bowls.

Mix a different food color into each bowl.

Take a tablespoon of batter from each bowl, and drop it into the cupcake paper.  Repeat with all the colors, until cupcake papers are filled 2/3 of the way.  Using a knife, make one large swirl with the batter, from the outside-in.  Be sure to wipe-off the knife between swirls, and don’t over-swirl!

Bake & ice cupcakes as normal.

Andrea’s Clam Cookies

1 package Pepperidge Farms Lemon Cookies
**Stiff frosting, recipe here
Wilton brand Candy Eyeballs (sold at HEB)
White jelly beans or yogurt-covered raisins

**Use 3 cups of powdered sugar. Set aside 2-3 tbsp of white frosting. Add red food coloring the rest of the batch, until it turns pink.

Put your PINK icing in a Wilton piping bag (or Ziploc plastic baggie) and snip the corner.

Place half of the cookies face-down on a platter, and squeeze a layer of icing over the bottom surface.  Place a white jelly bean (or yogurt raisin) in the icing, about an 1/8 inch from the edge – it’s a pearl in the shell!.

Gently lay another cookie on top of the frosting, to make resemble a cracked-open open clam shell.

For the eyes, place the WHITE icing in another Wilton piping bag.  Snip the tip of the bag, just enough to let out a little bit of icing.  Squirt 2 dots of the white icing onto the top cookie. This will be the “glue” for the eyes. Gently stick the eyes to the white frosting.


Energetically Refreshing Asparagus Soup

Energetically Refreshing Asparagus Soup

5/15/13 — You don’t even need to love asparagus to dig this soup!

Asparagus Soup

1 onion, chopped
½ tsp. dried tarragon
⅓ cup brown rice
1 bunch of asparagus, ends removed, cut into chunks (optional: reserve some tips for garnish)
3 cups vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion. Cook until tender, about four minutes.

Stir in the tarragon, rice, asparagus and broth. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.

With an immersion blender, regular blender or food processor, puree the soup. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 2-4.

Homemade Caesar Dressing

Homemade Caesar Dressing

5/8/13 — Forget the store-bought stuff that’s weighty and full of unpronounceable ingredients! You just need a few basic items (and about 1 minute) to whip-up this simple, healthy, feel good food.


•1 tsp. anchovy paste (or 1-2 anchovies, mashed)
•1 garlic clove, minced
•2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
•1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
•1 head of Romaine
•½ cup croutons*
•1/3 cup freshly shaved Parmesan cheese

Combine the anchovy paste, garlic and lemon juice in a small bowl. Whisk in the olive oil. Use this dressing over a salad with romaine, croutons and freshly shaved Parmesan cheese.

*Make your own croutons by tossing bread cubes with 2-3 tbsp of olive oil. Bake at 350F, for about 12 minutes, stirring half way through.

Broccoli Cheddar Quiche with a Comforting Feel

Broccoli Cheddar Quiche with a Comforting Feel

5/2/13 — Here’s a Broccoli Cheddar Quiche recipe that (I think) makes you feel comforted! It doesn’t have the heavy ingredients included in many quiches. You just need a few simple items for an exciting meal, without the heft!

Broccoli Cheddar Quiche

• ½ cup milk
•3 tbsp. flour, preferably white whole wheat
•1 cup cottage cheese, low fat or fat free
•1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
•3 eggs
•Salt and pepper to taste
•1 broccoli crown, chopped and steamed

Preheat oven to 350F.

Slowly combine the milk and flour, being careful to avoid lumps. Add the cottage cheese, shredded cheese, eggs and salt and pepper, stirring until well combined. Add the steamed broccoli. Pour the mixture into a greased 9 inch pie plate. Bake about 45 minutes.

Serves 2-4.

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