The Cupcake Pirate


It’s been a hell of a few weeks here at DBA HQ.

Pirates.

Cupcakes.

A gorgeous, custom made apron.

More cupcakes.

A play.

Still more cupcakes.

Oh, where to start?…Ah, yes, the play’s the thing! So we opened  and closed “Judgement at Nuremberg” and I have to say, it was a really good show. Congrat go out to Simon Donoghue, the cast and crew on a great run!

After the long tech (aka hell) week, that included starting the launch of the new OS for Windows phone we got to have some family time over the weekend. Since I was in Atlanta on the quest for Food Network Star (still no word yet) for my Dad’s birthday, we celebrated the weekend that the show opened. A yummy Chinese food lunch followed by the yummier Daniel Craig in the new James Bond flick, “Skyfall” (loved it). I have to say, sitting in the dark theater watching Craig badass his way through the film, reminded me of my long ago dream of being a Bond Girl…Ok, who am I kidding? I still dream of being a Bond Girl. Of course, I temper my pipe dreams with a healthy dose of reality. Seriously, how much of a demand is there really for a 40 something, 5’3 tall, overly curvy Bond Girl  (Salma Hayek does not count, folks) . Now, since I do call the shots for the DBA web series, I’m smelling a Bond-themed episode in my future. All I have to do is find some time to shoot it and an idea for a recipe that would work with the theme…Oh yeah, and “wrangle” Daniel Craig for a special guest appearance. Of course by “wrangle” I actually mean capture him and lock him in my closet until he complies. (I’m not one to mince words) Hey, a Badass can dream, right?

“The name’s Badass. Domestic Badass.”

The next day, I found out that it was “Pirate’s Weekend” at the Carolina Renaissance Festival. Now it’s been years since I’ve been to the Ren Fest and the hubs and I have never gone to it together. So after waking up early and getting all the info, I brightly bounded back into the still warm bed. “Hey!” I chirped to my still sleeping hubby. “You wanna go to the Ren Fest today? It’s pirate weekend and they’re even having a costume contest! We should go and see if Jenn (my sister) wants to go too!”

My poor husband.

I sometimes wonder if he’d realized how much of a morning person I am (and how much of a morning person he’s not) if he would have started dating, much less married me. Oh well. Too late..

On any other day, Gary probably would have rolled over and feigned sleep. However, the mere mention of the word “pirate” got the proverbial juices flowing. “Hell yeah!” he heartily replied. “Will you help style me?”

“Help”?…“Help”???!!!

Oh, yo-ho-ho yessiree! See for me to get all gussied up and wear a costume out is no biggie. Hell, a lot of my regular clothes look like costume pieces. But for my husband, who is a strictly “behind-the-scenes” magic man of Oz-like proportions, the concept of going out in costume is as foreign to him as the idea of a life without garlic is to me. But the lure of being a pirate for a day was too tempting for the G-Man. Out went the reservations and in came the eyeliner.

The eyeliner. Yeah, that…

In order to fully appreciate this story you have to know this tiny tidbit about my husband. He has the most sensitive eyes of anyone I’ve ever met. Maybe even in the world. In addition to his eyes being super sensitive, he has kind of a phobia about eyes in general. It’s so bad that although he loves a good, gory horror flick if there is anything happening to a victim’s eyes, he has to turn away. He cannot stand to see anyone messing with their eyes. And God forbid he accidentally walks in on me putting mascara on or, horrors!, putting my contacts in…That will send him cringing in a corner. But he was a trouper and decided to let me darken his eyes to complete the swashbuckling effect. I sat him in the kitchen with my makeup kit spread out on the counter. “OK, here it goes, baby” I said as I took out my blackest kohl eyeliner and went in for the kill. I no sooner touched his eyelid when he jumped. “Ow! Ok, ok, can we stop for a minute? That just put too much pressure on my eye and now I have a headache.” The guilt train made a pit stop at Badassville. “Dammit! I’m sorry, baby! Do you just want to skip the eyeliner? You’ll still look great..” “No, I’ll be ok. I just need a minute.” After a minute (or five) passed (along with the obligatory eye rubbing, tearing up etc) I was able to continue. “Ok, I’m gonna just barely touch your eye by dotting the eyeliner on. I’ll let you know when the eyeliner is about to touch your eye, ok?” I took a deep breath, said “Ok, here it comes…” and very very gently dotted some eyeliner on his upper lids. Cautiously, I whispered, “Are you ok?…” “Yeah, just like that is good. I don’t feel any pressure on my eyelids.” Whew! I kept going, first with the eyeliner and then with some black eyeshadow to smudge and set the liner. First the upper lids, then the lower lids. When I finished, about 20 minutes later, Gary had smoldering, smoky eyes and I had a cramp in my right hand. The it was time for hair and the rest of the costume. It was beautiful! He was putty in my hands! I ran around grabbing scarves, vests, jackets and jewelry, adding and subtracting items to create the perfect piratical look, like a crazed Edith Head. When the dust cleared I put his hat on and stood back to admire my handiwork. “Holy @$!# baby, you are one sexy bastard!” My husband sweetly gave all the credit to me. “It’s all you baby. You made the costume and did my make up.” “Yeah, but you wear it so well…” and gave him a kiss. Now you may think I’m biased because I love this guy to death, but I have to say, he looked pretty damn sexy.

“But where’s the rum? Oh, here’s the rum!”

Now, of course, Jenn and I got our pirate on, too. No, not that ridiculous “sexy pirate wench” crap. You know what I’m talking about. The look comes complete with 6 inch thigh high boots, off the shoulder puffy shirt and a black and white striped skirt that shows more booty than Blackbeard saw in his pirating career. There is no way in hell that I’d ever buy into that BS. If I’m gonna be a pirate, I’m gonna be pillaging and drinking rum with the boys. Pirate wench? Ha! Not this girl!

“Arrgh, maties! You best not be callin’ this Badass a wench! I’ll be seeing you walk the plank!”
Trust me, you do not want to run into these characters in a dark alley…

Now one of the things our little band of pirates was so excited about was the pirate costume contest going on at the Ren Faire that weekend. Even the hubs, was ready to get up and strut his stuff. Jenn decided to sit the contest out and cheer us on, so the two of us enthusiastically got into the line of contestants.  Of course, Gary used the “ladies first” line and pushed me ahead of him. “Gee thanks, dude,” I said, under my breath. Then, looking at the bevy of female judges sitting on the stage I hissed, ” You just make sure to work those judges-kiss their hands!” Yeah, I am the woman shameless enough to pimp her husband out for a restaurant gift card and a couple of passes to the Ren Fest. Don’t judge me.

When it was my turn to strut my badass piratical stuff, I bowed to the cute pirate host and then introduced myself in a BIG Spanish accent, “I am Annamaria the TERRIBLE! I am such a badass pirate, I use two swords! MUHAHAHAHA! And I’m coming for YOU!”(pointing to the plainclothes guy in the front row, who smiled at me) “And you!”(pointing to the photographer shooting the whole thing) “You, I’ll take for the men on my ship” (pointing to the Ren-Faire dresses woman sporting more cleavage than Dolly Parton) “You’ll be my first mate” (pointing to my sister) “And you…you I’ll have in the Captain’s quarters…”(with a sly little smile to our pirate host who loved the attention) I bowed to the female judges (I mean, what the hell was I gonna do-all the flirting in the world wasn’t gonna help my cause with that group) Then I gave my meanest “ARRGH!!!” and tipped my hat to the audience (to rousing applause and shouts of “Huzzah!”)

Gary was next. He announced himself as “Captain Jack Morgan” to laughs and cheers. Then he sauntered up and down the aisle and made his way back to the stage. He did his sultriest swagger to the judges and kissed each of their hands as he gazed into their eyes. I was so proud! Then one of the judges (who was dressed as a female pirate) dropped her hankie and as Gary bent to retrieve it, she stopped him and said, “NO! You have to do it like this!” She bent at the waist, threw the back of her frock coat to one side to expose her, um, “assets” and said, “This is how you do it properly!” Of course, Gary, played it up and showed the audience (and the leering judges) his finer points. I mean, he does have a really good butt…

Well, after an hour of the pirate parade the winners were announced. I was sure that Gary had placed, but to all of our disappointment, nothing. Gary was a little bummed, but in spite of the loss, we managed to pull out a good time and even had folks asking to take pictures with us! One woman basically threw her granddaughter at my sister and took our picture.

Aye, maties! We be recruitin’ em younger and younger-this lass is in charge of the poop deck…

Fun times. But there was a storm a-brewin’ and it had the day job written all over it.

With the launch of Windows Phone 8 came the return of our micro budget for store events. I decided to get uber-creative and think outside of the “tiles” and my comfort zone.

Cakes. Cupcakes.

But not any cake or cupcakes. Nope. I decided to go on a fondant bender and create hundreds of confections that looked like Windows Phones and their Live Tiles. A total of 8 hours and about a gazillion pounds of sugar later…

The experience taught me a few things.

  1. I have even more respect for pastry chefs than ever
  2. I now know why I am a savory chef
  3. Decorating cakes involves a ridiculous amount of work
  4. One can get a severe sugar high from riding around all day with 300 cupcakes in the back of your car
  5. I never, ever want to see another cupcake again.

Next time, I’m making trays of lasagna…

I also got a really awesome present from my friend Kate, the mastermind at the fabulous House of Minerva.  It’s not only adorable, but it’s extremely well made. Kate takes an amazing amount of pride in constructing beautiful, well made kid’s fashions, cosmetic bags, handbags, totes and aprons. If you’re looking for some fantastic ideas for holiday gift-giving, check out her website and show her some Badass love. Since I want to really show off the apron, we’re gonna do a fun photo shoot and I’ll post pics asap! In the meantime, check out House of Minerva and do a little shopping 🙂

Needless to say, between all of this, the day job, working on the blog and formatting recipes for the cookbook, it’s been really busy around here, so it’s been challenging to find the time to cook, much less develop new recipes. Which sucks. So what’s a Badass to do? Create some super quick, super yummy dinner ideas, of course!

Here’s one from tonight. I had some lump crab in the fridge and decided that a quickie pasta dish was just the ticket. This has a bit of spice, thanks to some Cajun seasonings and the red pepper and spinach not only adds a bright pop of color, but a nice nutritional punch too 🙂 The best part is that this dish takes less than 15 minutes to complete, from start to “dig in”. Quick, easy and crazy good.

Cajun Crab Tortellini

Here’s what you need:

1 red bell pepper, chopped (you’re looking for about 1/2 inch pieces)

1 cup raw baby spinach, coarsely chopped

8 oz lump crab

6 oz tortellini

1 cup white wine (Chardonnay)

2 cups light cream, heated

3 tbs butter

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 1/2- 2 tsps Cajun seasoning mix

pinch of salt to taste

And here’s what you do:

Cook the tortellini for about 3 minutes. Yeah, I know, they won’t be fully cooked, but that’s the way you want ’em. We’re gonna finish ’em off in the sauce.

While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a large saute pan over high heat. How large? Well, the pan has to be big enough to hold the sauce and the pasta. Plan ahead for this-you’ll thank me later.

Add the red pepper and cook for one minute, stirring constantly. Add the crab and half of the Cajun seasoning. Cook for about 30 seconds. Add the wine to deglaze the pan and cook for another minute. Add the heated cream, cheese and the rest of the Cajun seasoning, lower the heat to medium and stir until the cheese melts. Give it a taste adn add salt to taste. Add the tortellini, stir to coat and cook for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add the chopped spinach and stir to combine.

Serve with extra cheese on top, if you like.

That’s it. Pretty simple, huh? The nice thing is that you can sub out any protein you like for the crab. Shrimp and chicken also work well. Not a fan of spinach? Use some small, steamed broccoli florets.  Play with the ingredients and make it your own. That’s what I like to call “Badassing it”. And please share your versions with me so I can give you props!

Whew! Just reliving all that made me tires me out! I’m off to get a little shut eye. Sweet dreams and I hope you find time to add some Badass to your busy day!

Till next time-

Have fun-and Be Fearless!

xoxo

2 thoughts on “The Cupcake Pirate

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