Thursday, November 8, 2012

Second chances.

Far too often I find that those who give second chances in life, do so intermittently-- unfairly, and almost always purely subjectively. But I have to stop and wonder: What actions constitute allowance for a second chance? What type of person warrants a second chance? Does the first offense have to be insignificant enough to not affect many people? Or does the offense simply have to be a certain distance from the chance-giver that they themselves are not affected? I know that I am far from perfect-- that I have been far from perfect at least a time or two. And sometimes I was rewarded a second, even a third chance. But more often than not, I was cast aside and judged-- denied a second chance to rebuild trust, to build trust from the start. But then I have to pause and consider what other types of people are given second chances: convicted felons, cheating spouses, those who use and abuse women like trash receptacles. The list is endless. Felons have epiphanies in prison and convince the world they're changed men and women. So they are offered a job and full trust from their employers. Cheating spouses woo their way back into the heart of the low self-esteemed partner who cannot seem to see the truth. Women who are victimized no longer see themselves as human beings, and therefore give second chances as if begging for a chance at living their own life. Yet, when it comes to most situations in a person's life, there is a very short list of truly 'forgivable' acts: white lies, accidental foolishness, drunken comedic streaking, and the occasional too-close-to-home-friendly-personal-jab. Everything else is ground for immediate expulsion. You forget to call on their birthday? Ditched and dismissed. They heard you may have broken someone else's heart but aren't really sure? Judged as a heartless wench, never to be good enough for your friend to date. Completely and utterly subjective. But where do we draw the line? I'm no saint when it comes to letting go of grudges, but I like to think that I am fairly lenient when it comes to second, third, and in some unquestionably vapid situations, fourth chances with people. Humans are prone to error. We are complex, thinking beings and we mess up. A lot. But that doesn't mean we are incapable of changing our habits; changing our heart; changing our minds. One mistake does not have to turn into two. And even if it does, a pattern of mistakes does not have to follow. This world has become so filled with instant gratification and an ability to find an answer on a search engine in a matter of seconds that we ourselves have re-programmed our minds to make snap judgments about other people within seconds. No longer do people take the time to get to know one another before judging character. No longer do people understand that mistakes are common and that people can change. No longer do strangers give the benefit of the doubt to other strangers. Me personally? I'd rather be called a fool for having faith, than a cynic who dampers every ounce of positivity left in this world.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Let's call these: Moderate-Amounts-Of-Sugar Added Apple Streusel Muffins

Good morning and Happy Friday to you all :) I should be studying right now, but I had to make something for breakfast, and I'm getting a bit tired of eggs with toast or cereal, and I happen to have a ton of apples in my house at the moment.

After last night's battle with fried apples, I decided I needed to lower the sugar content in whatever I was going to make. But I knew it would be next to impossible to make an apple streusel muffin with no I decided on trying to add a lesser amount. Which ended up making the recipe a more moist than normal sugar would have done, so I'm basically a winner.

Let's begin, shall we? I have about eight more muffins to consume before track practice at 2:30.

Start by peeling, coring, and slicing/dicing apples. I chose to make very very small pieces so I had a ton of apples in every bite! This also helps to prevent the cake from pulling away during baking because of the moisture in a larger apple chunk. I used two small gala apples today, but any kind of apple will work. I ended up with about a cup or so after chopping.

Then, combine the wet ingredients in a small bowl, and the dry ones in a bigger bowl.

Wet: 2 tbs. honey, 2 tbs. no sugar added applesauce, 1/2 cup milk, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, a dash of vanilla, and 1 egg. (Whisk together until all of the various textures make a nice pale yellow color)

Dry: 1 1/2 cups flour, 2 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. salt (whisk together until airy)

Then, fold the apples into the dry ingredients. This will coat the apples to lower their moisture content before adding the wet ingredients.

Pour in all of the wet ingredients and fold until just combined. The consistency should be slightly on the wet-paste side. Next, pour half of the batter into 12 muffin tins. And here comes the fun part.

Combine 1/3 cup brown sugar, 2 tbs. butter, 2 tbs. flour, and as much cinnamon as you desire. Crumble the mixture on top of the batter, reserving about 3 tbs.

Then, pour the remaining batter on top. Finish by topping your muffin tins with a bit more streusel. (Yes, I'm still working on getting the streusel recipe to be slightly healthier, but you could probably substitute the brown sugar for sugar in the raw, just don't use Splenda!! It will boil and bubble and end up causing your muffins to sink!)

Pop 'em into a 400 degree oven for about 17 minutes. I took mine out at 15 minutes after thinking the poor little tops looked too brown, but some of the centers are too moist.

Enjoy with a hot cup of coffee or your favorite morning beverage. If you're not overly concerned with the sugar content, spread a little apple butter on top while still warm....DEEE-VINE.

I'm very very pleased with this recipe and I encourage you to make it for yourself. Every bite I took I had cinnamon, streusel bits, and of course about three or four apple chunks. If you want to crank up the nutritional value more-- add a few of your favorite nuts. I can imagine almonds or walnuts would be great mixed into the streusel center and topping.

Have a healthy dose of happiness on this gorgeous Friday.

Peace, love, and sexy muffin tops,
Mlle Phipps

Friday, February 17, 2012


One day in English 209 Section N, also known as my Creative Writing 8 am class, we were assigned a ten-minute spill. The spill could be about anything, but to help mould our hazy minds, my professor told us to think about what we had for breakfast, or something we loved to eat for breakfast. So of course my mind went to bacon. Greasy, crispy, delicious bacon. And then my mind wandered to baking. The most simplistic ingredients come together to form decadent creations. Eventually I made the connection between the salty and savory flavors of fried bacon and the rich smooth flavors of chocolate. And then it hit me. Why not put the two together?

I know people have put chocolate with bacon before but this was the first time I myself realized it could be done. My writing then took me to a place I call crazy-town. I decided I would attempt to write a bacon-brownie recipe with less than three minutes left in my ten-minute spill, during a class that I was hardly awake for. But I did it. And boy was it a mess. The ingredients were definitely all there, but the amounts would have made the worst possible brownie ever. When I got home I scrapped the entire recipe, except for one thing.

That one thing? Bacon grease. Brownies usually use oil, at least the ones I like do. Butter is great, you all know how much I love me some butter, but there is something about oil that makes a brownie that much richer in flavor. So in my fury of half-asleep writing I decided to substitute the oil in a typical brownie with bacon grease. Yes, I did in fact consider how many hearts I would stop with this type of recipe.

I dawdled and messed with the recipe for a couple of weeks, and then finally got the gaul to go out and buy bacon. And I decided today was the day for Salted Caramel Bacon Brownies.

First I had to fry the bacon, and preserve all of the grease. The house was filled with smoke and I swear I saw Miss Di drooling more than Tachey. I may have even drooled a bit while leaning over the stove trying to soak up all the bacon fumes.

Then later tonight after track practice I got together all my traditional dry ingredients. 1.5 cups of flour, 2 cups of sugar, 2/3 cup cocoa powder, and 1 tsp. salt.

For the wet ingredients I changed things up a bit. Because I used 1/2 cup of bacon grease, I used 1/2 cup of vegetable oil. Typically I would use four eggs, but to make up for some of my heart-disease prone friends I decided to use only two eggs and then 1/2 cup applesauce. The moisture in the applesauce is a perfect substitute and let's be honest, it counts as a fruit right? Then I mixed in 2 tsp. of vanilla. After stirring it all together and almost gagging at the site of it I just poured it in and started mixing.

And what I got from all of these funny ingredients was the darkest, richest looking batter I've seen. I've made a lot of brownies, but this batter was smoky, rich, and deep in flavor. Which of course terrified me.

But then I poured half of the batter into the pan and threw on some chopped bacon and my worries dissipated. This is after all chocolate and bacon we're talking about, right? Into the 350 degree oven for thirty minutes it went!

As the concoction baked, I attempted to make a caramel drizzle sauce. And it was a total disaster. The first step was easy. Make a simple syrup, bring to boil, and shake until it turns an amber color.

But then when I tried to add the milk, not heavy cream, which was probably my biggest mistake, the mixture basically exploded and made my kitchen smell like bacon, chocolate, AND scalded milk. Gross. And of course my simple syrup thingamabob went hard and didn't mix with the milk.

But after a little cooing and a lot more whisking, the mixture loosened up. So into the pot went some vanilla and butter. Then I got this.

Which was basically liquid caramel, but after an hour or so it started to solidify. And then I wasn't so worried about keeping these brownies completely naked. With only crumbled bacon to cover up the naughty-bits.

So with a little patience, and a little bit of melted down leftover cream cheese frosting, I eventually ended up with a sexy-topping for my already diabetes-causing brownies.

Then of course Miss Di and I just had to dig in. And here's what we found:

1. A half of a cup of bacon grease is wayyyy too much. More like a quarter cup next time.
2. Sugar content could be reduced, especially because I decided to use applesauce.
3. Bacon should be fully crisped and not have a soft center.
4. Bacon grease takes longer to bake in the oven than expected.
5. Eat with caution. And without knowing the true ingredients.

Bacon Brownies
1.5 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup bacon grease
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup applesauce
2 eggs
3-4 strips of chopped bacon

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Pour half of the batter into a greased dish. Sprinkle with bacon bits, reserving some for topping. Pour the remaining batter into the dish and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes, or until completely cooked in the center.

Salted Caramel Sauce

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter
dash of salt
pour of vanilla

Combine sugar and water, bring to boil over medium-high heat. Shake the mixture until it reaches an amber color. Remove from heat and whisk in milk. Place over low heat if the sugar clumps. Add in butter and vanilla. Once combined, cook and bring to boil for 2 more minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool before serving.

I really need to go workout tomorrow morning. Desperately.

Peace, love, and food-comas to you all,

Monday, January 23, 2012

Ramblings from a rookie.

I think it's time that I write something about my newest adventure. It may not take me out the country, or even to the other side of the city...but for now I think I'm okay traveling less than a mile to the high school up the street. About two weeks ago I was offered an amazing opportunity, one I thought I had been passed by for months ago, to coach the girls' track and field team at South Miami Senior High School. As a second semester senior at UM the opportunity for a 'real job' took me by immediate surprise. The pay is slightly higher than my current part-time job and the hours are less flexible, but a little less demanding. And of course the job itself comes with many perks and a few greater difficulties.

1. There is no track at South Miami Senior High. Problem? Not really, actually. Luckily for us there is a gigantic football/soccer field that happens to be pretty oval in shape, which makes for a lovely (yet short) impromptu track. Oh, and Tropical Park is only about a mile or two away. Which makes those practices a 2 for 1 deal.

2. There is no budget for uniforms. A few years ago the team fell into some bad luck and had most of their uniforms stolen. So that means what we do have is outdated and won't cover the entire team. Luckily for me though is I spent most of my high school career trying to fundraise for marching band, JV cheerleading, Varsity cheerleading, and even sometimes for track. So I will be using a few of those tricks I have hidden up my sleeves.

3. Age difference. I was mortified to think that some of my new athletes would be barely three years younger than I am. But again, luckily for me, most of my athletes are freshmen or sophomores and the few that are seniors-- have hardly figured out just how close in age we are.

4. Experience. I've never coached a track team before. Sure I know how to put together a running program for myself or another person, but I've never truly run a track program from start to finish while trying to accommodate at least ten people. But here's where my somewhat-annoying habit of keeping everything falls into place. Not only did I write down the majority of my running workouts from high school track, but I also wrote down the majority of my lifting, running, and jumping workouts from UM. Can you say, cha-ching? 'Cause I just did. So far the pre-season workouts have been a breeze. The real task will come when I get all the basketball girls around February. But by then I should have found my stride.

So now my desk has three piles of scattered yet organized stuff. Schoolwork, baking, and track magazines. And I guess you can count the looming stack of bills as a separate, not-so-exciting, pile. Twenty-one years old and getting a taste of Part I of three dream jobs. And did I mention the pay was pretty sweet? Too bad I don't get it until the end of the season...I guess that just makes it an extra sweet graduation gift.

Enough about me and how excited I am to mold this young bunch of athletes. I want to talk about my kids now. Sorry, my young ladies and gentlemen as Coach Reinisch used to call us. I've taken a lot of his advice over the years and am trying to model his coaching style when it comes to handling the athletes...though I would hope I have a better time communicating with the ladies about their lady-questions. No offense if you're reading this, Coach!

Every team is made up of the following types of athletes: the good ones, the newbies, the attitudes, and the question marks. The good ones pay attention, try their hardest and never say never. The newbies are just as excited to be out here, but have little to no experience in what we're doing. Sometimes they can be even better than the good ones with a little time and a little more patience. The attitudes are the ones that could be great, but refuse to accept it. There are constant scowls, the 'I don't wanna do this' face, and an overall look of disgust when the coach speaks. The question marks are the ones that come in with no experience, very little obvious interest in track, yet they are the ones who probably try the hardest at every single task placed in front of them.

I will be upfront and say that I will not be using names, unless it comes to their successes at track meets. I will not allude details to any individual athlete of mine, and I will not degrade their hard work. I will however, attempt to use their successes and failures to contemplate my coaching styles, approach to practice, and overall personal attitude.

So far the practices have consisted of a lot of learning. For both them and myself. New warm-up, new drills, new way of running. New lifts, new stretches, new core work. Some of the kids have never heard of the things I throw at them, but they do it anyway. And some of the things they tell me about past practices I have never heard of. So we meet somewhere in the middle, with my say getting just a little bit more pull than theirs.

The season officially starts on Tuesday, with a thirty-minute study hall period before practice commences. I've been trying to come up with a few goals for the season, aside from making it through the entire season and not having the entire team quit on me...Maybe by Tuesday I'll have something a little more optimistic.

For now, as long as I reach them in some positive way and maybe get them a few PRs, I'll be happy.

From my running shoes to yours,
Coach Phipps

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Gotta start somewhere.

This New Year I have decided that I will not only say that I want to bake 100 new recipes, I will actually do it! And today was the first hack at that goal. Evan, who is so bravely studying for the bar this winter and spring, has requested one treat per week to keep him sane. That means that if I am to keep up with my necessary recipes throughout the year, I will get to keep on average .92 recipes per week all to myself! Hooray.

Anyhow, I decided that I would attempt to make my CakeWars dream come true today...literally, I had a dream that I was called into CakeWars (completely unprepared by the way!) and had to come up with cupcakes on the spot. Now, for those of you who are unfamiliar with CakeWars, this type of behavior is usually frowned upon! Therefore, I whipped up a few ideas and when I woke up the next day I quickly jotted the ideas down. One of which happened to be an Orange Creamsicle Cupcake...I mean, who doesn't love Creamsicles??

And for those of you who are not familiar with Creamsicles, kindly remove yourselves from under the rock and take a look at this magnificent blend of flavors:

Yes, that does in fact look delicious. And I happen to love Creamsicles. And I also happen to love cupcakes! So, why not put the two together...

I started with a basic white cake, so that I didn't have random yellow colors or whatever other cake you can think of. Creamsicles consist of three things: orange, cream, and deliciousness. Therefore, any added confusion to the blend would have just ruined the entire experience. The recipe was borrowed from a wonderful blogger that I adore, you should all check out her website!

After the cupcake batter was poured into its sassy little lingerie and popped into the oven for toasting, I started onto the orange cream filling. YES, I said filling.

You see, my Grandma Phipps got me this handy-dandy little cake corer for Christmas this year. So now I am able to core cupcakes, taste the center (wait, what?) and then add filling. I'm sure this tool was invented for a housewife who had a curious husband that continually took pieces of the cake before it was ready to be served...only creating more work for the housewife in order to fill in the missing pieces. Well now, I can core the cake, fill it, and then frost over the top without anyone knowing that I really just wanted to taste the cake!

Back to the filling. Orange cream. I was thinking basic buttercream, mostly because the cake batter did not have nearly enough butter, but moreso because I knew I could make it tart like the Orange part of the Creamsicle.

Butter, sugar, vanilla, and orange peel all go into the bowl. With a few drops of yellow and red food dye to really make the Orange stand out. And then of course, as I add the orange juice I simply must taste-test it to ensure ample tartness. Perfect. Tart and delicious. Moving on.

I decided against another buttercream because while I personally love loads of homemade buttercream icing, I know not everybody does. So a lighter, yet decadent frosting was just what I needed. What is light and decadent?

Great answer! Meringue. So that's what I decided on, having no idea how to turn raw eggs into an edible frosting on top of a cake that was already cooked with a non-cookable icing filling in the middle. Google it was! And google taught me that making a hot simple syrup would be just the ticket to making a delicious meringue that did not need cooking. I was sold.

1 cup sugar, 1/3 cup water, 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar into a pan on medium heat...stir until dissolved and leave on stove until bubbly. Easy enough right?

Blend two egg whites with 1 tsp. vanilla until soft-peaks form. Easy as pie! Then, gradually add in syrup mixture until blended. Then, beat mixture until stiff peaks form. Awesome! I've made lemon meringue pie before, I have patience and can wait for the eggs to stiffen a bit.

What I didn't realize was that because I only have one beater on my hand-mixer, not a whole lot of whipping so much as stirring was going on. The eggs took FOREVER to stiffen and after about twenty minutes of my hands and ears vibrating from the hand-mixer being on full-speed, I decide that moderate peaks were more than enough for me. Plus, the sheen on this frosting was just orgasmic. I mean it looked just like melted marshmallows. Shiny and delicious.

Did I mention that the third component of Creamsicles is deliciousness? In case you didn't know, Oranges, cream, and deliciousness are all musts.

After all that was finished, I got to core my little cakes, fill them up with orange buttercream and then top them all off with a bit of meringue frosting and orange peel. Beautiful so far and each component tastes great by itself-- just waiting for the meringue to stiffen a bit in the fridge before I dive into one (just to make sure I won't be poisoning Evan of course.)

I'll be taking this year One Bite At A Time.
From my house to yours I hope you have a beautiful day!

PS: It took Tache entirely too long to eat this piece of cored-cake for him to TRULY be my son. But I accept him for his faults and will train him to eat table scraps better.

White Cupcakes
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-Cream 1/2 cup butter with 1 cup white sugar until smooth
-Add 2 eggs and 1 tbs. vanilla to the mixture.
-In a separate bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups flour with 1 tsp. baking powder.
-Mix 1/2 of the dry ingredients into the sugar mixture until blended.
-Mix in 1/3 cup of milk.
-Add the remaining dry ingredients and beat until just blended.
-Pour batter into cupcake liners 2/3 of the way
-Bake about 20 minutes, the tops should be slightly golden and the center should not jiggle.

Orange Buttercream
-Cream 1/4 cup butter.
-Add 1 cup powdered sugar and beat until combined.
-Mix in some orange peel and 1/2 tsp. vanilla.
-Add 1 more cup powdered sugar and about 1/3 cup orange juice.
-Continue to add orange juice until desired taste and consistency is reached.
-Add red and yellow food coloring if desired.

Meringue Frosting
-Mix 1 cup of sugar, 1/3 cup water, and 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar in a saucepan.
-Stir over medium heat until the mixture is dissolved and becomes bubbly.
-Whip 2 egg whites with 1 tsp. vanilla until soft peaks form (just past when you see bubbles)
-Gradually add the sugar syrup into the eggs until all has been added.
-Continue to beat the mixture until stiff peaks form (should look like little mountains when you try to spoon it)
*Be patient, it can take up to 10 minutes!

Core the cake, dollop the icing in, and frost over. Decorate as desired and enjoy!