Baking During The Holidays

There are few things as depressing as having to work on Christmas eve and Christmas day, but as the private chef for a family, I typically end up doing both and this year was no exception. In addition, I also had to cook for visiting extended family members, and come up with some projects to keep the kids busy, as they were going stir crazy trapped inside due to non-stop rain. So needless to say, it's been a busy week for me.

Thankfully, I was able to turn to my fellow bloggers for some great ideas, and even better recipes, and these really helped make my week a lot easier. My first task, early on in the week, was to bake and build gingerbread houses, something I had never done before. I searched the Internet for ideas and came across very good recipes and thorough instructions from Simply Recipes. Everything from making the dough, to cutting out and baking the pieces, to making the royal icing, or the glue that holds the houses together, was included in the instructions. As a result, my first attempt at edible house building was a smashing success and the project managed to keep the kids busy for hours.

Then came the cookie decorating. My first bit of inspiration came from the blog, The Pioneer Woman Cooks, which gave wonderful decorating tips as well as easy recipes for royal icing and flood icing, something I never even knew about before this. After the cookies and icing were made, I checked out a few other sites for ideas, with two of my favorites being Bake at 350 and One Tough Cookie. While I had a hard time convincing the kids not to glob on the frosting and sprinkles, I managed to exercise some restraint, and came up with some really lovely cookies.

My favorite discovery of the week, however, was a recipe I found for Sweet Potato Buttermilk Pie on the Smitten Kitchen blog. While I'm typically no fan of sweet potato pie (to me it just tastes like a dense, pumpkin pie, and is a travesty of mush and over-spicing in my book) this one has definitely changed my mind. The key is the wonderfully flaky butter crust and the addition of buttermilk which both lightens the filling as well as adding a much needed tangy kick. Even the youngest of the picky kids was pleading for second helpings of that bad boy.

All in all, the week was exhausting, but making so many people happy and managing a few new discoveries along the way, always makes weeks like this a bit more tolerable.

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            5 Program(s) Found
            • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
            • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
            • Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
            • Provides program coordinators who work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
            • Over 50 campus locations nationwide.
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            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
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            1 Program(s) Found
            • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • Lets undergrad students try classes before paying any tuition.
            • Has an average class sizes of 18 for undergraduate and 13 for graduate-level courses.
            • Offers numerous scholarship opportunities that can help students save up to $750 per term on their tuition.
            • Tends to educate degree-seeking online and campus-based students who are adult learners with families and students who work while pursuing higher education.
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            • Online Courses
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            • Received the 2013 “Cooking School of the Year” Award of Excellence from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
            • Externship opportunities are available at numerous famous New York City restaurants.
            • Campus is located near downtown Manhattan, within walking distance of many popular attractions such as the Radio City Music Hall.
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            4 Program(s) Found
            • Founded in 1979 as the Star Technical Institute school group, offering career training in drafting and design.
            • Provides education and training towards employment in the healthcare, culinary, baking, beauty, and hospitality career fields.
            • Their Fast Track Diploma/Certificate Programs can enable students to be job-ready in as little as eight months.
            • A Career Services Office helps match graduates with potential employers.
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Career Schools and Colleges and approved by the U.S. Department of Education.
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            3 Program(s) Found
            • Culinary Arts program includes the 3-week Farm To Table® Experience, where students gain a direct, in-depth look at where food comes from.
            • Numerous scholarship opportunities and financial aid are available to students who qualify.
            • Accreditation from the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET), and the Council on Occupational Education (COE).
            • 2 campuses located in Boulder, Colorado and Austin, Texas.
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            2 Program(s) Found
            • Ranked among the Best Colleges in the South in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • Ranked the 13th  Best College for Veterans in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • A private institution founded in 1977 with a current total undergraduate enrollment of over 15,00.
            • Its student-faculty ratio is 11:1, and 89.3% of classes have fewer than 20 students.
            • Has students attend one class at a time to ensure easy access to faculty and a more hands-on education.
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            L'Ecole Culinaire , Saint Louis
            • Offers educational opportunities for the aspiring, career-minded chef.
            • Students are trained by professional chefs and spend the majority of their final term working in the campus restaurant to learn all phases of the culinary industry.
            • St. Louis campus offers new Food Truck Entrepreneurship courses.
            • Has a student-run food truck that tours around St. Louis.
            • All campuses have a public restaurant where food is prepared and served by students.
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            • Flexible Scheduling
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