Archive for the ‘Cooking’ Category

Jocelyn: Conceal Your Mistakes.

In Cooking, Strategy, Super Helpful Info on 07/06/2012 at 11:02 am

Jocelyn and I were best friends in high school – a given since we had 6 out of 7 classes together. Our teachers must have hated us, not just because we were chatty, but because we were ALWAYS together (and usually being dorks).

As one of the best students at our school and probably the most Type-A person I knew, it came as no surprise when she, as a grown-up Pastry Chef, was the first to come to mind when asking myself, “Who should create some recipes for this cupcake business I have no recipes for?” (Side note: we still use some of her cake recipes today, because they’re just that good.)

When I was in CA for our first photo shoot, Jocelyn started piping cupcakes for the camera. She told me to garnish the cupcakes that were sitting on the side and to use the garnishes to conceal any mistakes. So I did.

Once back in Chicago, as we hustled through our first year of running Foiled, I quickly realized that garnishes were going to be our saving grace. Without the chocolate curls, toasted coconut, crushed peanuts or Oreo crumbs, we’d have sent out lopsided, air-bubbly cupcakes. But with the garnishes, nobody noticed anything except how good the cupcakes tasted (thanks to Jocelyn and her Type-A-ness, I promise).

We have a rockstar Chicago-based pastry team that knows what they’re doing, but just in case, we’ll always keep our garnish stock full.

P.S. Go 49ers!

Julie: Three Months.

In Cooking, Human behavior, Networking, Organization, Relationships on 04/15/2011 at 2:24 am

Julie is one of my heroines. She’s mom to four amazing grown children, is a power attorney, drives a stick shift Mini Cooper and bakes the world’s best pot roast. Nom.

I was over at her house one Sunday a few years ago for dinner, and we were all chatty and having a good time. In the middle of the conversation, she said, “Hey, Mari – let’s schedule another one of these dinners in three months. When’s good for you?”

I said, “I have no idea. Three months?”

Her reasoning was fourfold:
1 – If we say, “Let’s do dinner sometime soon,” that ‘soon’ turns into a month, turns into six months, turns into 10 years. BAD.
2 – If we say, “Let’s do dinner next month,” there will inevitably be some scheduling conflict and then we’ll say, “Let’s reschedule for another time – sometime soon,” which turns back into #1. BAD.
3 – If we say, “Let’s set a date three months out to do dinner,” there are fewer scheduling conflicts, we can both put it onto our calendars now, and then we have something to look forward to in three months. GOOD!
4 – A lot can change in three months, so conversation will be fresh and fun. GOOD!

Now, I use Julie’s “three months” scenario with those who lead super busy lives, but who I MUST see again.

Julie, just so you know, aside from your pot roast, this is the BEST tip I’ve ever gotten from you. (Get it? Oh, I kill myself.)

Katie: ABC!

In Cooking, Organization on 08/06/2010 at 1:11 am

Katie is our Head Cupcakeologist and seriously one of the best hiring decisions I’ve ever made. I give myself full credit for knowing to snap her up ASAP. (Insert praises to high heaven here for having Katie apply for this job.)

One of the reasons Katie is so fantastic is she’s super quick and fast. She’s always running around and doesn’t slow down. And one of the reasons she’s so super quick and fast is because of this little mantra she shared with me her first week of work:

ABC – Always Be Cleaning!


Seriously, try it. Clean up after yourself or as you’re working on something. It’ll make you go twice as fast.

In fact, I’m probably going to have to make Katie a SuperCupcake cape sooner or later because she always be cleanin’!

Derek: Chicago.

In Be memorable, Cooking, Dancing, Experience, Sports, Travel on 01/11/2010 at 1:42 am

I met Derek (@dshanahan) a few months ago over lunch, which turned into a four hour discussion of usability and technology under the el tracks. Which turned into a several-month love/hate relationship over who has better dance skills (Mari), a better mustache (Derek), a prettier Google calendar (Mari).

He’s on his way to Vancouver, BC to kick butt on his latest venture, Foodtree, and writing nostalgic Chicago stuff on his blog as a result:

There’s a toughness about this city…a confidence in the experience of being a Chicagoan that doesn’t exist anywhere else on earth.  This city stays sexy all winter.  It’s hard to see unless you train yourself to see through the challenge this time of year puts in front of us.  You look through it and you see smiles and music and art and a camaraderie among total strangers that’s only possible if you’ve walked through our streets and watched them transform themselves over and over and over again as seasons change and years roll by.  We watch our sports and politics with unwavering commitment, dedication, and skepticism.  We pride ourselves on hotdogs, pizza, and Italian beef.  We don’t apologize for that.”

I love this. Everyone knows winters suck here. But we get through it together. We survive it with the best combination of sports, culture and food in anticipation of the most celebrated summers in North America. Chicago is a city connected by deeply rooted relationships, in large part due to the seasons we get to experience together.

To apply this in any group setting, people bond when they go through challenging times together (and have some good food to go with). Brilliant.

If you agree with Derek, say “yeah.”

Mari: “Heck yeah.”

Good luck, Mr. DShan. I’ll miss you – and that’s not really even sarcastic. 🙂

Dawn: Ginger is a Diuretic.

In Cooking, Health on 12/19/2009 at 9:10 am

I took a cooking class at The Chopping Block, an instructional kitchen/cooking store in Lincoln Square and the Merchandise Mart: Healthy Cooking taught by local dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner. She taught us how to make an entire meal surrounding healthy choices, including breaded broccoli, organic herb pizza, and soy mousse. And the appetizer was this carrot ginger soup.

Generally, I’m a big fan of ginger (except in cookies, because I think the whole concept of gingerbread is weird.) But what I didn’t know is that ginger is a diuretic. Dawn said, “Just throw in a teaspoon of ginger into whatever you’re eating to bring out the flavor. Plus, if you’re bloated, ginger helps decrease water weight.”

So now, I always have some minced ginger handy to throw into whatever I’m eating. Not that it’s really helping me lose weight. But at least it’s helping me to not feel completely puffy.

I’d love to hear other people’s strategies to not feeling puffy. Because I’m big into salt. And I always feel puffy. Okay – go. 🙂

Angie: Don’t pack a single pair of sweats.

In Clothes, Cooking, Health, Holidays, Human behavior, Music, Travel on 12/13/2009 at 8:02 pm

Angie was my junior-year-of-college roommate. From Blue Springs, MO, her claim to fame is that her brother is best friends with David Cook. Although she didn’t know how to boil water or make scrambled eggs (seriously), Angie actually gave me some actual, practical, memorable advice before I went home for winter break (which haunts me every holiday season):

Don’t pack a single pair of sweats. It’s winter. You’ll want to dress all cozy and comfy. DON’T. Because the second you don’t wear jeans or cords or something that holds you in is the second you’ll overeat. And then you won’t fit into your clothes when you get back to school.”

I’m sitting in sweats now and contemplating baking a BTS cake -> case in point.

Jamie: Make sure it doesn’t hit the whip.

In Cooking on 10/07/2009 at 11:04 pm

Jamie is Foiled Cupcakes’ lead Chicago Pastry Chef. She’s teaching me a lot about baking (because, if you couldn’t already tell, I don’t know anything about it. Seriously.)

So today, I overheard her training our new Pastry Assistant over the Hobart:

“The trick is to make sure it doesn’t hit the whip. And also make sure it doesn’t touch the sides of the bowl either.”


She was talking about making Italian meringue buttercream, and apparently that’s how you get the syrup to emulsify properly with the egg whites.

Jamie’s so smart.