Saturday, December 13, 2014

Cronuts, Day 2

And the adventure continues...

Day number two is not a big time commitment. The work involves combining the butter block and the dough. This day is integral to the light, flaky layers within the cronut.

The first 20x20 square I rolled out was not quite a square. But the second 20x20 square I rolled out was a bit more successful. The difference was the placement of the rolling pin. On the second square, I made sure that the rolling pin always overlapped the edge of the dough. (Does this make sense?) Previously when I rolled the dough there was about one inch of dough outside the end of the rolling pin, that led to edges that were not straight. The second time I made sure the rolling pin was outside the edge of dough which helped maintain the square shape. I made an infographic, below, to illustrate what I'm talking about.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Cronuts, Day 1

'Tis the season for cronut-making adventures! Once I learned the recipe was published, I knew this would be an activity I undertook at the start of my winter break. Especially since my attempt to buy a cronut at Dominique Ansel Bakery this past summer was a "failure". And, I put that in quotes because although they were sold out of cronuts, the bakery recommended the DKA which blew my mind!

The first day of making cronuts is not overwhelming, at all. Throughout the process, I referenced Dominique Ansel's recipe published on the ABC News website. It's really important to read the recipe thoroughly, multiple times, before starting the process because it is a very detailed process/commitment.

A photo posted by Caitlin (@cavdodd) on

The first day involves creating the dough and shaping the butter block. I recorded part of the process in my video feature below!!

I also made the ganache for my cronuts. I opted to go for the Champagne-Chocolate ganache & glaze, with the orange-sugar for rolling.  I chose this as the ganache because it was the only one that did not have gelatin in the recipe. Not that I'm opposed to gelatin, but how do you say no to Champagne?!

A photo posted by Caitlin (@cavdodd) on
Have you made cronuts? Or, have you had an infamous cronut?! I'd love to know what you thought... please leave your comments below.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Bucatini All'Amatriciana

I love this recipe! I first had it on my first night in Rome at the start of my semester abroad in college. The pasta and sauce were homemade, so this recipes requires some commitment as it takes a bit of time to complete!

I got my pasta recipe from the KitchenAid pasta press manual. Jump to page 10 for the Basic Egg Noodle Pasta. I actually make this recipe in my Cuisinart food processor instead of in my KitchenAid mixer.

  1. Put 3 1/2 cups of sifted flour in the food processor, add 1 tsp salt, pulse to combine.
  2. Crack four large eggs into a measuring cup. Turn on your food processor and add the eggs. 
  3. If the dough does not form into a ball slowly add in cold water, maximum 1 TBSP, until the dough collects into a ball on one side of the food processor.
  4. From here, knead the dough for about 30 seconds and pull out walnut-sized pieces of dough to drop into the pasta press. 
  5. Follow instructions and guidance from the manual, in regards to speed, etc.
I made a video of making the pasta! It is fairly long, so if you don't have time to watch it all, here are a few tips from it:

  • King Arthur Flour is the best, because Dave's grandma says so :)
  • If you make your dough in the food processor, make sure you have the dough blade attached
  • "Sifted flour" is different "flour sifted". The first wants you to sift (or add air to) the flour and catch the flour below the sifter/strainer in your measuring cup. The latter, flour sifted, wants you to measure out the amount of flour then sift it to separate and add air to the flour.
  • Quick math lesson: 7/8 is halfway between 3/4 cup and 1 cup. (You need to know this when determining if you have enough eggs!)
  • Place a wet paper towel underneath your cutting board to prevent the board from sliding across your countertops! 

The Amatriciana sauce is so tasty and so simple. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I do!
  1. Small chop 2 yellow onions
  2. Dice 1/2 pound of pancetta in strips. I like to ask the deli counter to slice the pancetta about 1/4" thick.
  3. Heat a dutch oven, or something similar with a heavy bottom, over low-medium with some EVOO in the bottom. Add in the pancetta and cook until it's toasty and brown.
  4. Add in the onions and continue cooking until onions turn translucent
  5. Pour in two 28 ounce cans of whole Italian San Marzano tomatoes. As these cook the tomatoes get soft and I like to go after everything with a potato masher to break up the tomatoes.
  6. Bring to a boil and then drop it to a simmer for at least one hour... the longer the better! Season with salt and adjust as you go along.
To finish your pasta in the sauce, pull out 3-4 ladles of sauce and set aside. Remove the pasta from salted boiling water one minute early and add it to the pan of sauce. Add in 1/2 cup of grated parmigiano-reggiano and a swirl of EVOO, then stir to combine. Add any remaining sauce, as needed. 

Mangia and enjoy!!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Thanksgiving, in Review

Ross and I had a lovely Thanksgiving! In addition to spending quality time with loved ones, stuffing ourselves with delicious food, and enjoying a few games of Cards Against Humanity, we got to enjoy a cider tasting from one of our favorite cideries (is that even a word?), Albemarle Cider Works!

We had the whole lot from Albemarle. It's hard to believe that just one year ago they only had four assortments. I'd like to point out that if you're thinking of Woodchuck or Strongbow in this post then you are quite misguided! This hard cider is tart and sparkly. It is not nearly as sweet as the mass distributed options you've seen around. 

Complete with tasting guide!
Ross and I first tasted Albemarle Cider Works two (or was it three) years ago. We loved the unique flavor of these ciders. At the time our favorite was the Royal Pippin. Now, in the broader spectrum of ciders produced, we thought that the Royal Pippin was not as flavorful as some of the others, such as the Ragged Mountain - a group favorite this Thanksgiving!

A cidery (I'm going to make this word happen!) recently opened in Austin. Ross and I are excited to try it out. Austin Eastciders looks promising and really caught my attention - especially given that it markets its product as "bittersweet" and "lightly carbonated". I'm quite intrigued and look forward to trying some soon.
In addition to my post as sous chef and cider taster at Thanksgiving, I was given the task of folding the linen napkins. I try to take this opportunity to be really creative! So, some research and I settled on a combination of the "Rosebud Napkin Fold" and "Crown Fold" courtesy of Didn't they come out super cute?!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Top Knots and Fur Vests

Today I wore an outfit that was perfect for the chilly days approaching winter. Not too many layers, but just enough to be warm and cute!

I layered my Adrienne Landau rabbit fur vest on top of a long-sleeve shirt. This vest is super cozy and tends to invite "pets" because it just looks so soft! It's really warm and a great go-to item for this time of year.

Underneath I wore a staple, my C&C black long-sleeve shirt. I got this shirt at Loehmann's a while ago and it's one of those simple pieces that you can always find a use for. Now that Loehmann's has closed, I'm not sure where I'm going to get my "staples"! I'll be heading back to NJ for the holidays, perhaps Century 21 Department Store can fill in the gaps ;-)

The necklace, which you can only see a peek of, is another staple of mine! I've had it for years and cannot recall from where I got it. All I know is that my friends love it... whenever we have a girls weekend, this necklace tends to get passed around between everybody each night. It's a fan favorite, that's for sure!

Now, a special addition to my #OOTD post... a video feature! I'm a big fan of top knots and I wore one today. Check out my video to learn a little trick about executing a flawless bun!

Music Makes My Mornings

Music is a big part of my morning routine and it has become a lot more enjoyable since upgrading to Spotify Premium! No more waiting for the next streaming song to buffer while at the bus stop with a weak signal. I'm still working to optimize my radio stations but I tend to use the app to listen to "my songs". This morning, Spotify gave me a great randomized playlist that was the perfect combination of vibrant and uplifting. What a pleasant addition to my commute to class! I discovered the first song on this playlist just yesterday - it popped up on the Spotify US Top List and caught my attention right away.

Every few months I discover a song that I like/love and listen to it on repeat, repeat, repeat for a while. (My sweet husband puts up with this with a smile on his face!) I expect Shut Up and Dance to follow a similar pattern in the weeks to come, that is, when I'm not listening to Christmas music! The music video is not my favorite, but there are a few throw backs that made me laugh... The cameo from the "13 Going On 30" actress (0:11 and 3:06) and The "Saved By The Bell" opening credits background (2:22). Did I miss any?

Here's the handful of songs that made me so happy this morning...

  1. Shut Up and Dance by Walk the Moon
  2. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays by N*Sync [a favorite, any time of the year!]
  3. This Kiss by Faith Hill
  4. Fine By Me by Andy Grammar
  5. All For You by Sister Hazel
The last time a song caught my attention like this was during the Dancing With The Stars' Macy's Stars of Dance. Derek Hough choreographed an amazing routine to Classic by MKTO. Check out the video below...

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Numbers & Psychology

The marketing position within the C-suite is notorious for fast turnover. Whitler at Forbes describes the position as "The 'Disposable' CMO".

So what is it that sets certain individuals apart? In the words of Rob Malcolm, Executive in Residence at McCombs School of Business, these individuals are "grounded in the numbers and inspired by the psychology." It is the ability to switch between the left-side of their brain (logical, rational, process-oriented) to the right-side of their brand (creative and emotional).

Marketing is moving this way too. Research validates the use of story telling - it is easier to remember, and thus more effective than data alone. (Another example of the shift from rational [data] to emotional [stories].) Some of the best stories that I have seen include Dove and Zales. Watch them below...

These examples both bring the customer along the journey and through the story, tugging on emotions. Really effective, if you ask me. On a [somewhat] related note, Zales made a "Zombies" version of the commercial which I find entertaining.

So you might be asking, what is the takeaway that I'm trying to get at? "grounded in the numbers and inspired by the psychology" ... this is the type of marketer that I hope to be one day.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Secret Sauce 2.0

When I studied abroad in college I learned a simple go-to recipe for salad dressing. It has only seven ingredients and no exact measurements. It's great on salads and pretty much anything else! When I came back from my semester in Italy I began making this dressing for my roommates - it was an instant hit and always in our fridge! Thus, when I graduated early I made sure to pass it forward. I wrote the recipe down for my friends and I even recorded a how-to video! (I am not kidding.)

Unfortunately, six years ago, during the making of the first video we had some technical errors and the video wasn't completely recorded. That's why when my college roommates came to visit me in Austin earlier this month, I was again inspired to record the making of "Caitlin's Secret Sauce"!

Now, I'd like to share with you, Caitlin's Secret Sauce version 2.0 (a.k.a. version "Grad School").

  1. Start by adding your extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I prefer this in a 2:1 ratio, respectively.
  2. Don't worry about following an order for everything else. You'll have to add in:
    1. 3/4 clove of garlic, minced
    2. Salt
    3. Freshly ground pepper
    4. Lemon juice
    5. Dijon mustard
  3. Mix everything together with a fork. Taste and adjust accordingly.
It's super tasty! If you have a chance to try it please let me know. Also, if you tend to prefer sweeter dressings, you could easily put in honey or some sugar to sweeten things up!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Blogging Again with Sausage, Peppers, & Onions

Hello blog-o-sphere! Is it still called that? I cannot believe it has been nearly TWO YEARS since I've last posted. There were many times in that period when I considered getting back on the blogging-bandwagon but for various reasons those moments of inspiration never translated into action. Well, now I'm back and to catch you up as quickly as possible...
  1. I got married!
  2. We moved to Austin, TX!
  3. I started my MBA program at McCombs School of Business at UT-Austin
  4. My husband left consulting and doesn't have to travel for work anymore :)
  5. I interned in NYC over the summer, where my husband and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary
I still love to cook, but I don't bake as much because we tend to eat low carb at home. I still love to craft, though I haven't had a lot of time to satisfy this urge. I did become a professional painter and sold a number of acrylic paintings, mostly of silhouettes of fellow trapeze artists. I also became the female quarterback for the MBA coed flag football team and threw the game-winning touchdown pass in our last game this season!

On to food...

Last night I made us a version of sausage and peppers that combined three or four different recipes, along with a little improvisation with ingredients! It came out really great and I wanted to share the cooking techniques here. If you try it, please let me know what you think! I love feedback. 

  • For this dinner I used four Italian pork sausage links; two mild and two spicy. Take a large skillet with a high lip, put the sausage links in the pan and add one inch of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, cover and let it cook for about 10 minutes.
  • While the sausages are cooking: 
    • Slice half of a large yellow or sweet onion
    • Slice a whole green bell pepper
    • Chop three cloves of garlic (*See note below!)
    • Dice two tomatoes
  • Drain the sausage, add a little olive oil to the pan, then poke the links with a fork on both sides (careful because the juices will squirt out and burn you!), lower the heat to medium and turn the sausages so both sides get a nice crisp. Remove sausages from pan.
  • Keeping the sausage juices in the pan, add in the peppers and onions. Saute them for a few minutes, then add in the garlic, along with some basil and oregano (I sprinkled in dried spices, maybe a tablespoon each), season with salt and pepper.
  • Let this all cook for a few minutes, once things start sticking to the bottom of the pan keep an eye on it for another minute, then - wait for it - pour in some red wine! This was a great addition I had not done previously. I used a Zinfandel that was already open, but any heavy red would do great. The wine will deglaze the pan and let you scrap up all the tasty bits!
  • Now, slice those sausage links on the bias (I cut each link into three pieces) and put them back into the pan. Let it all simmer together for 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer to low bowls and sprinkle with parmesan to serve. Mangia!
We loved this recipe and hope you will to! 

*Note: Chopping the garlic was key! Last year in a cooking class I learned that chop/dice/mince, etc. all have measurements! I typically cut my garlic really small to almost a mince but when you cook it at high heat it will toast (and burn) pretty quickly, which takes away a lot of the awesome garlic flavors. When you cook at a high heat, you'll want to cut your garlic larger, at a chop or a large dice. The garlic flavor from only three cloves in this meal was amazing because I had chopped it larger than I typically do. For those that are interested, this post from The Kitchn does a great job covering the nuances of verbiage you're likely to come across in recipes!

Today I'll leave you with some words of inspiration, in honor of my friend Nicole, from Audrey Hepburn...
"I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. 
I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. 
I believe that tomorrow is another day, and I believe in miracles."
Nicole is battling breast cancer and yesterday had lots of love and support from friends and family at the Susan G. Komen Race for a Cure in Austin. I was not able to join the race in person but supported Nicole in spirit! Recently many MBAs wore our #NicolesBreastFriends shirts to school to rally support and drive donations for the team -- what a success! We love you, Nicole. Kick cancer's butt!