Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes with Bailey's Frosting

Oh yeah...chocolate has been calling my name lately. I mean, it's been SHOUTING my name, and all my assorted nicknames to boot. So, in respect to the powers-that-be in Chocolate World (I'm assuming Willy Wonka is king), here is a recipe for not only chocolate cupcakes, but GUINNESS cupcakes with Bailey's frosting. Oh, em, geeee, can anything get better than that?? Well, maybe actually drinking a pint of Black Gold (that's Guinness for those of you not in the know) whilst consuming such lovely confections. Yeah. Guinness is just about the only lager/stout/beer I've found that not only GOES with chocolate, but actually makes it taste even more delicious. Sigh...how many hours until work is over?


Chocolate Guinness and Irish Cream Cupcakes
Makes about 20-24

1 cup Guinness, foam removed
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup sour cream (not low fat)

For the ganache filling:
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate 
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, diced
2 teaspoons Bailey's Irish cream

For the Bailey's buttercream:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups confectioners' sugar(sifted)
4 tablespoons Bailey's Irish cream

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners.

In a bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large, separate bowl, cream together butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs in one at a time, mixing to incorporate after each addition. Mix in the vanilla extract.

With your mixer on low, slowly add in the Guinness. It will curdle, but will all come together when you add in the flour and sour cream.

Slowly add in a third of the dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Mix in half of the sour cream. Repeat again by alternating between the dry ingredients and the sour cream, finishing with the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.  DO NOT over mix.

Spoon the batter into the lined cupcake tins, about 2/3 to 3/4 full. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or when a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.

Remove the cupcakes and allow to cool in their tins on a cooling rack for 5 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from their tins and cool completely on the racks.

To the make the ganache filling: Finely chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream on medium-low until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then stir until smooth. If this has not sufficiently melted the chocolate, you can microwave for 20 seconds, stir, and check. You can continue this for 10 second intervals until the chocolate is completely melted. Add the butter and Irish cream and stir until combined.

Let the ganache cool until thick, but still soft enough to spoon into the cupcakes, about the consistency of pudding. Meanwhile, use a small teaspoon to scoop out the centers of the cooled cupcakes to about 2/3 of the way in depth.  Spoon the ganache into each cupcake and set aside until ready to frost.

To make the buttercream: Whip the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer or with a hand mixer until light and fluffy, for about 5 minutes. Slowly add the powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time. Slowly drizzle in the Irish cream and mix until the buttercream starts to come together and look thick. If it looks too thick, add a bit of milk or cream.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Smartphones Are Stupid


Yes, I said it. Smartphones are stupid, and they're making a new generation of technology dependents stupid too. Okay, that might be a bit harsh, but they are definitely taking away our ability to remember things, like phone numbers. (Well, that might just be a problem with me. I keep forgetting things as I get older. Like socks with my shoes. Thank God I haven't forgotten my bra yet...uh oh. Dang it. I thought the girls were a little cold today).

Sorry, back on track. Why do I say they're stupid? Well, recent autocorrect entries have forced me to draw this conclusion. I mean, trying to tell my husband "I love you too" comes out "I lice toy typo." "What do you want for dinner" becomes "What so toy wasn't door finger."

Being a writer/editor, it's a habit for me to proofread things. Of course, this causes me to twitch like a crackhead Chihuahua when I read signs that say "New Costumers Get a 10% Discunt." That sounds like a topic for another blog post. Anyhoo, thank the stars in Heaven that I do read texts before sending, because I'm the prayer chain go-to person for our church. A few years back, I was having a hard time and I wanted to ask for everyone to pray for my peace. Well, I almost hit "send" when I noticed my lovely Android had decided to inform my church congregation to "Please pray for penis for me." While I have to admit I might actually could have used that at the moment (lack thereof might have been why I was uptight and needing peace, but again, that's probably a topic for another blog post), I certainly didn't want to ask those dear white-haired ladies in the front row to pray for that for me.

Besides the spastic autocorrect feature (which of course isn't helped by the HUGE dictionaries they put in these phones. I mean, seriously, who has ever used the word "pedagogic" or "Laurentian"?), smartphones have GPS capabilities that are about equivalent to Otis, the Mayberry town drunk on The Andy Griffith Show, telling Barney how to get to Sesame Street.

I had a party to go to in a  part of town I had never been to before. Thinking, "Oh, I have a smartphone and it's supposed to be smart. I'm sure it will be able to navigate me to the correct area." Right? Oh, so wrong. Not only did it send me to the wrong neighborhood, it was wanting me to turn into a vacant lot. I heard "You have arrived at your destination," while staring at tumbleweeds blowing by like a scene from an old western. "Really, GPS? Cuz it looks to me like not only have I not arrived, but you have gotten me hopelessly lost!" Okay, so yelling at my phone was probably immature, but I was not happy. I ended up calling the hostess, who kindly guided me to her house (which was a good three miles away from the vacant field. And, yeah, before you think it, I DID check the address and had every jot and tittle correct. Wasn't my fault. So there. Nyah.).

Let's move on to the other not-so-reliable smartphone feature:  The World Wide Web. It might just be my phone/service (which are both supposed to be top-o'-the-line), but it seems like every time I try to look something up (usually while my husband is driving and I'm trying to find where they SELL that darned thing!) the internet either crashes, or brings up a bunch of terribly irrelevant things. Kind of like it has that dreaded autocorrect feature with the inane words. Could that be possible? Has some technogeek programmed these phones to spew out nonsensical locations/stores/items just to get a kick? I wonder if they track it and have a good laugh at our expense. I can picture the scenario:

"Matt! Look! This idiot woman just typed in 'tea shops'. That algorithm you programmed is giving her the locations of all the adult 'bookstores' and adult 'toy stores' in her area! Oh my gawwwwwd, you are so funny!"

Yeah.

Well, anyway, 'nuff of the bitching. This started from a series of texts to my husband that took forever to correct (okay, probably about 3 seconds each. Seems like forever when you only have a few minutes to text each other) and I was on a rampage. I shall strive to have something more constructive in my blog next time.

Wait...I mentioned some possible future posts above. Let's see...Misspelled signs? Sex as a tension reliever? Hmmmm...

Friday, November 1, 2013

Still...

...think blogging sucks. Or at least I suck at it. But, hey, I made a commitment to blog at least something every day, so let's see how long I can keep it up.

The problem is, I run out of topics. At least, topics that might be interesting to the average Joe and Josephine. So if anyone has any topic suggestions, please feel free to send them to me! While you're at it, send me dinner ideas, because I run out of THOSE ideas all the time!

Which has now opened the door for today's blog post:  A nice recipe! Yeah, you're welcome.

I made these last night, and as per usual, I "winged it" so I'll try to recreate the recipe as best as I can. But like I always say to anyone who is cooking with a recipe, it's best to just make it your own. Use common sense.














Pork Chops in Gravy
cooking time:  approx. 20 min
Serves 6, or in my case, 2 "normal" peeps and 2 large men

2 pounds of pork chops (or do as I did and buy a loin and slice it)
1 C flour for dredging
salt/pepper
1/2 C vegetable oil
1 t chopped garlic (approx. 2 cloves)
3-4 C water
2 T chicken boullion (start with 1, add more to taste)
1/2 t powdered sage
1/4 t celery seed
1/8 t cayenne powder
1 T Worcestershire Sauce
**

Heat oil in a large skillet, or in an electric skillet. Dredge the chops in the flour, then brown on both sides in hot oil (325-350°F). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about 4-5 minutes both sides. Remove from oil and turn down the heat. (NOTE: If you use thick-sliced, as in 1/2" or more, then you will have to increase your cooking time accordingly. The best gauge is a fork stuck into the chop. If it runs clear, it's done.)

Gravy:  Saute the garlic in the oil until slightly browned (do not burn!). Sprinkle the left-over dredging flour into the oil until you have a nice roux (flour paste). You'll have to use common sense here. Add about a cup of water at a time until you have a nice gravy consistency. I added browning liquid to add color, but this isn't necessary. Add the spices and Worcestershire. Simmer for a few minutes, then add the pork chops to the gravy, turning to coat. Simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes. 

I served this with baked potatoes, only because we'd already had mashed twice this week. I think this would also be good atop egg noodles. 

**This would be fantastic with mushrooms cooked into the sauce also!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Blogging Sucks.

Okay, that's totally a lie. Blogging doesn't suck. However, I suck at blogging. True dat. Doubt it? Take a look at how many posts I've made in like 18 months. What? 11 or 12? Less than one a month.Yeah, I suck at it.

So now I have decided I should blog, striving to at least make one daily post. Why? I don't know. Why do you ask me such difficult questions? Sheesh. It just seems like the social media thing to do. All the gurus are doing it. I look to the SM (no, not S and M, silly--get your dirty little brain out of the 50 Shades mindset. I'm talking Social Media) mavericks like Rachel Thompson or Melissa Foster. If I want to some day achieve such stellar SM Guru status, then I must blog. At least, that's what I keep telling myself. We have lots of arguments, she and me.

Blogging should be simple, right? I'm a writer, after all. Or at least I pretend to be. Publishing just one 110,000 word novel doesn't make me a "real" writer, I suppose. Wait. I just read on a Facebook meme that if I write, then I'm a writer. If it's on Facebook AND a meme, it must be true.

Okay, so I'm a writer. Let's just stick with that. Blogging should be a snap. It's not like I have to rip open my heart and pour out all my soul into a one-page post or anything. Not like I did with my novel...man, that was painful at times. A lot of cardiac surgery went into that thing. I laughed and cried through the whole process. Still do. And every time, I feel like the wallflower at a book fair for neurotic, bipolar, forties-something, premenopausal, psycho bee-atches.

But I digress. As usual. I'm blogging, not spilling my soul all over the carpet in a novel. So, what should I post about? I have no clue.

Wait! I know! Facebook memes! Like Grumpy Cat or The Most Interesting Man. No? You're sick of them, you say? How about Bitstrips? Whoa, whoa, whoa...no need to get violent. Dang. I think the little self-cartoons are cute, personally. I was able to make mine look pretty darned close to the real thing, with the angry wrinkle between the eyebrows and all. I got that wrinkle from years of being, well, angry.

Ding ding ding! We have a winner! Blog topic of the day (insert "doo doo doooooo!" music here):  BEING ANGRY.

Like I said, I have this ugly gorge in betwixt my lovely green-with-brown-spots eyes. It came from eight, count them 8, years of being angry with #2's baby daddy. Oh, I had very good reason to be mad at the man. No, not a man. Man-child. He never actually matured into just-man status. Anyhooo, the man-child would rarely hold down a job, and when he did, would often blow his paycheck at the local titty bar on watered-down booze and sleezy lap dances. If he did decide to come home, often it was in a drunken rage. Have a few scars on me from that one, besides the angry gorge.

Being angry at the man-child did one of two things:  1) Gave me aforementioned angry gorge; and 2) Caused me untold stomach problems. It also probably drove the man-child to drink and stay away from home even more. Vicious circle and all that.

So, leaving that horrible volatile relationship took me 8 long years. Why so long? Well, the man-child needed me. He was too helpless to live on his own. He couldn't/wouldn't hold down a job, couldn't pay a bill on time to save his truck, and I seriously doubted at the time if he could even feed himself. It was up to me, aka OVERLY CODEPENDENT SUPERWIFE, to look out for him!

Leaving man-child baby daddy was the cure for most of my stomach problems, but spending 8 years scowling apparently takes a toll on the delicate facial tissues and so I am left with a permanent frown. That ugly frown is there even when I'm smiling and laughing.

I always said I was pretty much against plastic surgery for me, but if I could do one thing, it would be to fix that gorge. Of course, that's an out-of-pocket expense, because insurance companies don't believe that it's a medical necessity to smooth out my facial contours, the cheap bastiches that they are.

I wonder if I could get enough money if I stood on a corner with a "WILL WORK FOR BOTOX" sign. I'm thinking they'd take one look at the gorge and feel sorry enough to toss me a couple of bucks. Worth a try...where's my sharpie?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Worst Smell Ever

This morning, while cruising Facebook for all the new Grumpy Cat memes and "I can't live without coffee" posts, I came across Single Dad Laughing's latest post (http://www.danoah.com/2013/07/and-then-i-found-it.html/3). This is Dan Pearce, an author, blogger, humorist and awesome dad whose blogs are HILARIOUS. Wanting some laughter today, I clicked on his link and was treated to gagging, laughing, nausea and memories. He had written about the worst smell ever and asked for comments about his readers' worst smell memories. Below is my comment on his post (Yes, I am capable of writing novellas on posts. Just who I am):

My parents went on a cruise. In the summer. In July, nonetheless.We live in the desert. Okay, you have the picture of HOT. I told them I'd take care of the plants, get the mail, etc. (The mail needed to be collected every day because my parents were over 55 so they of course got mail from every senior product ever created, not to mention the RV places, Hoveround, etc. But I digress.) 

The first day I showed up was a Monday. There was a slight decaying odor in the house when I walked in, which I thought was weird, especially considering both my parents smoked like diesel trucks and the house usually smelled like a bar on Sunday morning. I ignored the smell and dropped the mail on the counter. Tuesday:  Smell was worse, but I was in a rush, so I dropped the pile o' junk mail on the counter and left. Wednesday:  By now the smell was getting worrisome. I figured there was a dead mouse somewhere and I shuddered to think that I was eventually going to have to look for it; but not this day. Procrastination and I have always had a love/hate relationship. Thursday:  OMG, the smell that blasted me when I opened the door caused me to throw up a little in my mouth. By now I was thinking that maybe Mom had actually bashed Dad over the head with a frying pan and had hidden the body in the closet before proceeding on the cruise by herself, or maybe with Pablo, the cabana boy. One never knows. I did a perfunctory search, even moving some furniture to carefully and fearfully look behind, but I didn't see anything. There weren't any bodies in the closets, either. 

FRIDAY:  D-Day. As in Disgusting Dead Discovery Day. By the smell that blasted me when I opened the front door, I knew I had to find the source soon, or the neighbors were going to be calling CSI. So, before searching the house once again, I decided I needed to ventilate. After opening all the windows, I decided to open the garage doors and leave the house door to the garage open for cross ventilation. When I opened the door that led to the garage, the smell that blasted me in the face and melted my eyeballs while simultaneously burning all the nose hairs I still possessed (those I couldn't reach with tweezers) was so horrific that I seriously considered just burning the whole place down. What stopped me from actually going through with that plan was the fact that I figured I was obligated to gather all the mail I had been collecting throughout the week before torching the place and the mound o' junk that was on the kitchen counter would need a front end loader. So, instead, I hesitantly moved into the garage and looked around. I figured Dad was out here somewhere, since the closets hadn't coughed up any bodies. The smell seemed to be emanating from the trunk of my mother's car, and I was sure that was in fact the source when I noticed all the paint was bubbling on the trunk lid. Soooo, believe you me, I was EXTREMELY hesitant to open that trunk. I just knew I was going to be assailed with the site of my poor ol' Dad's bashed-in skull and rotting corpse. Well, I finally gathered my courage and popped the trunk. Forcing one eye open, I was extremely relieved to discover two very large previously frozen chickens in grocery bags, which were now the size of turkeys from the expansion of putrid gas inside their plastic bags. 

I never told Dad about my suspicions...

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Press Release!



HEARTSHAPED SHARDS: Raw & Realistic Romance Novel Compels Readers to Seek Therapy.

Ria MacAlister’s emotion-tugging new novel exposes the behind-closed-doors plight that millions of women face in torn and unhappy marriages. Due to its bold realism and pertinence to modern society, ‘Heartshaped Shards’ is inspiring women to bring their issues into the open and seek therapy for their adversity.

For Immediate Release

While the romance genre has long been a staple of the literary world, many of its narratives blur the lines of realism with ‘sappy’ love stories that could never play out in real life. However, a powerful new novel Ria MacAlister is turning the tables with its hard-hitting depiction of the ‘woman next door’.

‘Heartshaped Shards’ replaces swept-back billionaires and doting brides with the possibility that two souls who have been beaten down by the world may one day find each other.

Synopsis:

Kate had a future. With a degree in physiotherapy, she had hopes of pursuing a career as a sports rehabilitation therapist. But fate had other ideas.

Beaten once again and left for dead by the man she should have been able to trust with her life, Kate awakened from a coma to discover that not only has she lost the precious baby she carried, the beating also damaged her internally so that doctors didn't think she would ever conceive again. As if that weren't enough, Kate is also nearly blind due to the injury to her brain.

Scarred--not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually too--Kate moves in with her childhood friend to try to somehow recover. Eventually her physical body begins to heal, but her emotional state seems to deteriorate with each passing day. It isn't until Patricia Daniels, an Irish psychotherapist, comes into her life that Kate finally starts putting the pieces back together in her shattered life.

Patricia (Trish to her friends) takes Kate with her on holiday to Ireland and Scotland. Through a series of kind-hearted Celtic men who come into Kate's life, brick by brick she is finally able to begin to bring down the fortress she's built around herself. The only question is whether a shattered shell of a woman can love wholeheartedly.

Heartshaped Shards is not only an endearing romance, it is a story of triumph; a testimony to the perseverance of the human spirit. This novel deals with the difficult subject of spousal abuse, but leaves the reader with the knowledge that there is always hope...and when there's hope, amazing things can happen.

"I had a love/hate relationship with this book. I absolutely LOVED the story, but the details of Kate's abuse opened up the closet to my own past. I am actually now in therapy because of it! I have Ms. MacAlister to thank for shoving me down the road to recovery :) "


As the author explains, her narrative is having a profound effect on its readers.

“'Heartshaped Shards' is a story of the woman next door, the one you see with a black eye or a bruised cheek and wonder what goes on behind closed doors,” says MacAlister.

Continuing, “I have already been contacted by readers who have said this book was 'the catalyst to get me into therapy for my own issues,' or 'gave me some hope after my own painful marriage.'”

Since its release, the book has attracted a consistent string of rave reviews.

“I felt all of Katie's pain and fears like they were my own. I got lost in this book. Ria made the characters seem like they were real. This wonderful book had me on an emotional rollercoaster, but in a good way,” says Kelly, who reviewed the book on Amazon.

Jonel was equally as impressed, adding, “As much as the plight of the protagonist is heart wrenching, I definitely laughed my butt off more than once while reading this novel. MacAlister manages to evoke the entire emotional spectra in her readers throughout the novel.”

With its popularity expected to sharply increase, interested readers are urged to purchase their copies as soon as possible.

‘Heartshaped Shards’ is available now: http://amzn.to/15dla0t

About the Author:
Ria MacAlister has not lived a fairy-tale life. Molested as a child, raped as a teen and abused as a wife, she buried herself in books to help numb self-deprecating feelings. When her fifth marriage started heading south, she began writing as a panacea of sorts to help heal her own scars, completing her first novel, 'Heartshaped Shards' in just seven months. Never seriously intending to publish her novel, friends and family insisted she do so after reading the story. One friend encouraged, "It has to be shared! I think it could really help someone else. If just one person is helped, then it's worth it, isn't it?" So, Ria took a leap of faith and put her story into the public's hands.
Ria lives in the southwestern United States with her sixth (and she swears last!) husband, who happens to closely resemble the hero of 'Heartshaped Shards'. Ria says she met her husband after she wrote the novel, knowing the marriage was "meant to be. There really are happy endings out there…you just have to wait for them."
You can follow Ria on Twitter @RiaMacAlister, on Facebook, or her website:  www.riamacalister.com

Contact
Ria MacAlister
info@riamacalister.com

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Pinterest? Candy Crush Saga? Facebook?

Which of these are you addicted to? Because statistics say that if you're on the internet for more than an hour a day, you're going to be addicted to one of them (okay, I totally made that up...although I'm pretty sure there are stats out there about this).

What? Me? Which one am I addicted to? Why? What business is it of yours? Oh, fine. I'll tell you. All of them. Satisfied? Happy? Go ahead and poke fun of me, wrinkling your nose as you laugh and snort at my misfortune. It really is a misfortune, you see, and certainly not laughable. It's very time-consuming to be a Pinterest Ho, a Candy Crush Saga Mama and a Facebook Freak. I hardly have any life at all (ask my ever-patient, yet suffering, husband) thanks to these minute hour-sucking social media giants.  Okay, okay, so CCS is just a game, but it CAME from Facebook, so it's a social media giant's offspring, which is just as bad. Sins of the father and all that. My day revolves around checking the status updates of friends, reading the newest recipe pins, scanning chat messages that need my attention before my friend (or more likely, someone I've never met, except online...still a friend nonetheless, right? I mean, this IS the 21st Century. We rarely physically interact with our fellow man any longer) thinks I'm ignoring him/her. I have awe-inspiring pictures to share, funny posts to like, my witty comments to share, a Grumpy Cat meme to laugh at, amazing pins to repin. Not to mention that stinkin' level to beat that has been kicking my butt for four days. It's exhausting, truly. *sigh*

But back to you...this was about you, after all, 'member? You 'member. But maybe you're one of those (the italics were meant to drag that out in your head as you read...so it's a more sarcastic, condescending version of the word) people who just pop on and off of the social media, not spending much time at all enjoying the cornucopia of crap wonderment it has to offer. That's really disgusting, actually. It's like getting free admission to the Guggenheim and going in to just use the restroom facilities. Really?! Some people (use that sarcastic-sounding voice again).

You really should join us over here on the darkside of Social Media Addiction...we have cookies. (Yeah, that was a funny meme. I'm sadly not that original.) Besides, the more the merrier, right? That means more posts to read, more comments to make, more pins to repin and more friends to send me free lives...and more time I'll be wasting. Ah-hem.

Carry on.