Featured moment of expansion

So, I got home from class at 10:30 on Tuesday night (my bedtime is 9pm, mind you) and decided it would be super smart (sarcasm) to embark on a kitchen project right then. I raided my stores of shelf-stable items and came up with the following. Can you guess where this is headed?

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Motivation for the insanity? Lucia’s surprise potluck baby shower was scheduled at my office for 3pm on Wednesday, and I had signed up to bring cookies. (Yes, we had another baby shower! ‘Tis the season …) I could have just grabbed a package of cookies and called it a night, but that would have been too easy. Instead, I tried to come up with delicious items I had hanging around my apartment that I certainly did not need to be eating all by myself. The project evolved as I worked, but I started with a package of Newman’s Own Organics honey wheat pretzels (and I sooo nibbled my share during prep because I am powerless when it comes to salty-sweet!), Peeps, and this bar of Russian chocolate from Olga:

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(I definitely nibbled on the bar as I worked, too. Yummmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.)

Plan #1 was chocolate-covered pretzels. Plan #2, in honor of the anti-chocolate crowd at work, was marshmallow-covered pretzels. Melting ensued (oven-based since, once again, I have no microwave):

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I added a dash of soymilk to the chocolate to aid in dipability but, aside from that, I did not doctor my dippers whatsoever.

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I placed the pretzels on parchment paper and let them relax in the fridge overnight. In the morning, the Peep pretzels were still impossibly sticky, so I had this brilliant idea to mix them in a bowl with the rest of the pretzel pieces and a bag of Skittles to minimize stickyness.

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I sort just ended up with a giant glob of pretzel-marshmallow-skittle deliciousness. I was very confident in the taste, but I was not as confident in the eat-ability. How could I serve a giant pretzel-marshmallow-skittle glob as a dessert for 30 people?! I was running late, so I stuffed everything into a tupperware: chocolate-covered pretzels on one side, pretzel-marshmallow-skittle glob on the other side, and Newman’s chocolate Os in a ring around the outside.

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I kept brainstorming throughout the whole subway ride to work (a lot of brainstorming since my commute is an hour and 15 minutes) and started to think about plan #3: turning the glob into pretzel bars. When I got to work, I went to the kitchen and used the bottom of a glass to smush everything down as aggressively as I could. I cut the contents of the tupperware into squares and put it in the fridge in the hopes that it would firm up.

Just before the shower, I went to check progress. The marshmallow pretzel-pieces stuck together pretty well, but the chocolate covered pretzel pieces and cookies were a crumbly mess. At that last-minute, make-or-break moment, plan #4 came into being: pretzel salad.

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I poured the crumbly chocolate cookie and pretzel mess into the bottom of a bowl and broke the pretzel-marshmallow-skittle globs into smaller clumps to use as a colorful garnish:

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I threw a spoon in the bowl and my “salad” joined the impressive line-up.

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Also on the crunch-time snack-preparation brigade were Inginia and Danilda, who were hard at work in the kitchen on some serious guacamole (because guacamole is critical!) right up until the very last second:

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In addition to pretzel salad and guacamole, the lineup included corn chips, fruit platters, veggie platters, salsa and other dips, [nurse] Sarah’s oatmeal chocolate chip cookies …

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Tortellini salad with tomatoes and pine nuts, rice and beans, quiche, more chips, fruits and cheeses …

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Custard fruit tart!!!!! (my favorite)

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Plus more! Before we could eat the food, however, we had to surprise Lucia!

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(And I think she was actually surprised! As Pura was leading her into the room, Lucia asked, “Whose party are you taking me to?”)

The crowd:

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And then, it was onto the food! Here’s my plate #1 with tons of (buried) green salad, tortellini salad, jalapeno cheese cube, pineapple, fruit tart, Pansy’s ambrosia (!!!), roast chicken, the afore-mentioned guacamole, and two blue corn tortilla chips:

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And plate #2 with more salad, some rice, pineapple, and more ambrosia topped with pretzel salad:

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(I may have also had thirds and fourths of ambrosia …)

Inevitably, my favorite time of day rolled around: cake time! How adorable is the cake decor?

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Awww, sugar baby sleeping …

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This cake was actually made by one of the women who volunteers for our agency, and it’s a Dominican-style pound cake with guava-berry filling and sugar-and-egg white frosting (that tasted exactly like a marshmallow).

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And my mountain of a piece:

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Phew, nothing like a 3:30 dinner to get you excited for the last hour of the work day! I was so stuffed after all of this that I couldn’t even contemplate going to my hot yoga class even though I had packed and lugged all of my yoga gear with me that morning. My belly was sticking out so far at that point that I wasn’t even sure I had it in me to touch my toes! Plus, I had a weird sore throat/congestion thing going on all day and thought I might be better served by sufficient sleep and prep for my looooooooooong Thursday. I think I might need to start finding a way to eat just for the moment and not for the rest of the week every time I see food …

OK, two questions: (1) Craziest thing you’ve seen that was labeled as “salad”? and (2) Best cake decorations you’ve ever encountered personally (as in, not by watching Ace of Cakes on Food Network!)?

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26 thoughts on “Featured moment of expansion

  1. insideiamdancing says:

    ah, the pretzel salad looks great! I was reading it on the edge of my seat, lol- was it a hit? What’s in ambrosia? I’ve always wondered!

    Hmm…craziest salad? I know the ‘lamest’ was when I ordered something in a Greek restaurant and asked for salad instead of fries and they sent a plate of rice as the ‘salad’ πŸ˜›

    I don’t think I have enough cake experience as your blog keeps reminding me 😦

    Like

  2. brandi says:

    can you mail me some pretzel salad? πŸ™‚

    craziest thing labeled as salad – all those “jello” salads – they freak me out for some reason! I don’t know about them…

    Best cake decorations in person? My wedding cake was pretty cool – it looked like a sandcastle (wedding was at the beach) and had shells all over it.

    Like

  3. verbalriot says:

    I’m glad you put that chocolate to good use! πŸ™‚

    I love the whole process of this pretzel-marshmallow-chocolate creation, how cool! I’d totally eat that!

    I love the little baby on the cake!

    Like

  4. Danielle says:

    That is so creative. You amaze me Sarah!
    One of my mom’s friends always makes cakes for family parties, and they are always adorable, she made a babyshower one once that looked like alphabet blocks. Too cute.

    Like

  5. Ashley says:

    Those pretzel-marshmello-skittle concoction look soooo good! I bet the salty of the pretzel pefectly complemented the sweet of the skittles, and the softness of the marshmellow (oops… think I drooled a little on my keyboard there…)

    Craziest ‘salad’? For me – when I see pasta and its labelled ‘pasta salad’. Umm. What’s the difference?

    Like

  6. Erin says:

    My mom and I made my sister a pirate cake for her 6th bday party! We used LEGO pirates and built the cake into the shape of a ship. It was SUCH a hit. LEGO shark and everything. πŸ™‚

    Um. Pretzel salad is the weirdest, I think!!!

    Like

  7. Diana (Soap & Chocolate) says:

    LOL I s#$t you not, before I saw the pictures of your pretzel salad once it actually became a salad, I was thinking to myself, hmm I would so enjoy just mixing that all together and eating it with a spoon. Great minds think alike!

    I have a question for YOU: Would your blog be as effective if you didn’t have a job that was so conducive to food collection and consumption? Which came first, your collection and reconstruction abilities or the job that contributed so much to aforementioned abilities??

    Like

    • Sarah says:

      Hahaha, Diana! I’d say my collection and reconstruction abilities came first … but this job has certainly given me more opportunities to practice using them than I have ever had in my entire life πŸ˜›

      Like

  8. Mrs. Myers @ Eat Move Write says:

    Ok, I LOVE that you made a pretzel salad (that might actually BE the “craziest” thing, but I love it). And, the best cake decorator I’ve seen is my friend Jess. She doesn’t do it professionally, she just has the touch.

    I want that fruit tart. I love those things. It’s a cake pretending to be healthy and I fall for it every time. mmmmm.

    Like

  9. Gina says:

    Darn, I can’t use the food Network?! Ok, well I’ve seen plenty of crazy and unique cakes since I used to cater weddings! When I was a little girl my aunt used to own a cake business too, and she always made great cakes. ONe time she made a cake that was carved to looked like a women’s sexy body for my dad’s b-day, that was pretty cool!

    Your pretzel creations are just perfect!!! You are so creative, I never would have come up with something quite so spectacular.

    Like

  10. Christina says:

    That pretzel salad looks amazing!

    My Aunt recently made a cake for nurses day and she put this nurse holding a giant syringe on it (in icing). It was totally weird!

    Like

  11. homegirlcaneat says:

    Holy shiz, that is my kinda chocolately pretzel salad!! And GUAC! All the food is my kinda stuff actually. And cake. You can’t forget an amazing white vanilllay fluffy wonderful cake! πŸ™‚

    Like

  12. Gina Boland says:

    Sarah, ur pretzel is hilarious! Are you going to try rice krispie treats made with Peeps? I think Pat Shannon’s and Chris’s sisters cake decorations for that engagement cake were the best, with the popsicle stick beach chairs and sand and shells.

    Like

  13. Olivia says:

    OMG Lady, you just gave me an AMAZING idea. PRETZEL (rice) CRISPY TREATS. hmmm . . . .I think you’ll have to come over to taste test. . .

    Like

  14. Lele says:

    I am one of the few lucky people who have personally encountered an Ace of Cakes cake (it’ll be on in August! A Pinto! So awesome!). So yes, totally cheating.

    Like

  15. Lara (Thinspired) says:

    What a fun and yummy baby shower! Wow, so many food eats. The pretzel salad is brilliant. In England, they actually call the lettuce/tomato that goes in your sandwich “salad.” It’s really strange the first time when I ordered a turkey sandwich and they asked me if I wanted salad. I was thinking a big side salad. It was a big disappointment!

    Like

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