Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Recipe Recap: Pumpkin Spice Donut Muffins

Remember those cinnamon-sugar muffins I made a little while ago? And I mentioned making a version of them last week and munching on samples after the Lady Antebellum concert. Well, I can't keep them a secret any longer.

I got the recipe from PW's Tasty Kitchen site. I love pumpkin desserts and breads so I knew I couldn't go wrong with this recipe. The only thing I might complain about is that the pumpkin flavor isn't as strong as I'd like it to be. Still, they were very yummy and two people (my coworker and the McHusband's) who had the original muffins liked these better, said they just generally had a little more flavor.

I made regular-sized muffins and mini-muffins this time around. I love the smaller muffins, but they were definitely more time consuming since you have to roll each one in butter and the cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Do you also remember how I said one of the best things about these muffins was licking my fingers after I was done with all the dipping and rolling?

And I may or may not have then dipped a spoon in the melted butter and coated it in cinnamon-sugar and licked that, too.

Okay, I did. It was the most delicious spoon ever.

And here're the muffins all divvied up for their recipients: one for the McHusband's office (the container with the most muffins), one for mine, then six mini-muffins set aside for the girls.

These were a nice "Hey, how are ya?" to fall-ish weather here in NC, but now I'm ready to welcome the new season and cooler temps with open arms - and many more pumpkin recipes. Like pumpkin truffles and pumpkin custards.

Anyone have any pumpkin recipes I just HAVE to try?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Lady Antebellum Concert

Kim, Sara, Kim's sister Ronna, and I went to the Lady Antebellum concert at Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary Thursday night. It was a GREAT concert! Sara even said she thought they sounded better live in some songs than they do on the radio. I was glad they didn't improvise too much like some artists tend to do in concerts and it's to the point that you barely recognize the song.

The amphitheatre was packed! I've been to two concerts there recently and it was nowhere near as full as it was last night. In fact, I'm not sure the combined attendances of the other two concerts would've equalled that of last night's concert.

We all brought camping chairs and found a spot in the trees that was big enough for the four of us.

L to R: Kim, Sara, Ronna

And me!

I have a confession to make. I broke one of the most important rules out there.

I snuck in outside drinks. {Insert gasp of horror here.}

I had the brilliant (if I do say so myself) idea to get some mini bottles of my white zin and stuff 'em down in the bag of my camping chair. The workers at the gates check bags and purses, but they don't bother with the chairs.

Sara did the same thing with a couple airplane bottles of rum that she added to a diet Pepsi that she bought once she got in.

I'd made some more of those cinnamon-sugar muffins except the new batch had a pumpkin spin (post and recipe comign soon) to it. I brought some of the mini ones for the girls to try. Turns out, though, that Sara has a strong dislike for pumpkin so I had to eat her portion while she manned the camera.

Even if you're not a Lady Antebellum or country music fan, I think you'd still enjoy this video of them spoofing a song by Lee Brice. His song is called "Crazy;" their song is "Biscuits & Gravy" and it's basically an ode to Waffle House.
{Argh, if I could reach in and THROTTLE Blogger, I would. I don't understand what's going on with the formatting lately.}

Friday, September 24, 2010

Girls' Night: The End

Actually, "The Ends" might be more appropriate. You'll see.

So we shut the place down but we were able to get one good picture of all of us as we left.

And I got one, um, interesting picture of Vanessa and Emilie.

Apparently Vanessa had a different kind of dancing on her mind...

I've got no explanation for this one.

Girls, I hope you'll forgive me for posting this one.

Maybe I can redeem myself with a self-buttrait.

We got a kick out of this bumper sticker.

One last sweaty self-portrait...

Can't wait to do it again, ladies!
{Again, sorry for the formatting issues. I don't know what's up with Blogger lately.}

Monday, September 20, 2010

Girls' Night

I went out with some girlfriends this weekend for a triple D night: dinner, drinks, and dancing.

We started with some drinks at my house.

Left to right: Vanessa, Heather, Chelle, Emilie (Heather's friend from VA), and moi

Heather is married to Bruce, who Jeremy used to work with.

Emilie was kind enough to be our DD for the night so we all piled into her car to head downtown.

Vanessa was in charge of the GPS...until I realized she was holding it upside down.

Guess who met us at dinner? Vickie! Yep, she left her boys at home and joined us at The Irregardless Cafe. It was really great to hang out with her and catch up in person.

After dinner, Chelle was craving one of Sullivan's signature Knockout Martinis so we stopped in the restaurant's bar for a pre-dancing drink.

Then it was on to Bogart's for the rest of the night.

Some views from above:

Doesn't Vanessa look downright predatory in this picture? I guess I should be flattered as she seems to have her sights set on me.

Hey, look, there I am wearing pink and being really sweaty again. I really need to break that habit.

What do you think, were they having fun or what?

We stayed until they kicked us out, but we weren't done having fun yet. I'll be back with more pictures from our walk back to the car.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A new game

I was in the backyard with the dogs when the McHusband got home on Friday so the three of us went out to the driveway to see him. He was unloading his bike from the truck when we came through the gate. For some reason, Tucker's very unsure of the bike. When the McHusband first brought it home and parked it in the garage near the door to the house, we had to literally pull Tucker past it because he was scared. Morgan gets excited when she sees people on bikes, but she doesn't care one way or the other about the bike itself.

The McHusband rode up and down the driveway a few times and Morgan loved it. After all these years, she FINALLY got to chase someone on a bike.

Unfortunately, Morgan has her daddy's feet. Being the son of a shoe man, the McHusband didn't go barefoot very much, and he has the virgin soles to prove it. Being mainly an inside dog, I guess Morgan's feet really haven't been broken in. I noticed that she was licking one of her back feet and when I looked more closely, I could see that she had some raw spots on her big pad. I checked the rest and they're all hurt. Poor puppy. I guess her Flintstone method of putting on the brakes didn't work out so well.

Luckily for Morgan, she's pretty content with lots of laying around so hopefully staying off her feet will give them a chance to heal quickly.

Friday, September 17, 2010

No turning back

It's official: I'm running the Rex Healthcare Half Marathon on Sunday, November 7th. I signed up yesterday (To the tune of $85 - that's an expensive t-shirt!) so there's no turning back now unless I get injured. I've been training since late June thanks to my friend Heather who ran a half marathon in VA a couple weeks ago.

I ran 11 miles last Sunday, and I'll do 12 miles tomorrow. Since I have a while until the actual race, my assumption is that I'll do at least 13 miles in the next week or so and we'll see if I stop there or if I go to 15. Heather's neighborhood has a good five-mile loop that I might attempt to do three times. I figure if I can do that, then the actual half marathon won't be too daunting.
Want to know what I'm most concerned about? Daylight Savings. Yep, the time changes Saturday night/Sunday morning the weekend of the race. I get paranoid enough and can't sleep when I have to set my alarm to be up for something important but add to that the fact that I'll be worried that my clock isn't saying the right time? Oh man, I'm going to be a zombie.
The race starts at 7:00, which means getting out there by 6:30 so I'll have to leave my house no later than 6:00. In the morning! On a Sunday!
No, I'm not a morning person, why do you ask?
I run about a 9:20 pace so I'm hopeful that I can kick things into high gear at a couple of points and finish in under two hours, even if I just barely make it. So if anyone's looking for something to do around 9:00 in the morning that day, feel free to come on out and cheer me on as I cross the finish line.
Then we can go get breakfast together. You know, at a REASONABLE time of 9:30 or so.
{I apologize if there aren't any spaces between my paragraphs; Blogger's being annoying.}

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

It's a Girl!

The McHusband and I have a new niece. Leah Grace was born yesterday, September 13th, at 6:21 p.m. She weighed in at a healthy 8 lbs, 11 oz (I guess that extra week baking did her good), but I don't have her length.

Mom, Dad, and Leah.

The McInlaws with their new granddaughter.

And a close-up of Chase's little sister.

Congratulations, Kevin and Jenny! We can't wait to meet her.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Party in the 'Hood

We had some neighbors over this past Friday night. I thought there might be 6, maybe 8, people in addition to the McHusband and me. If I counted right, we ended up with 14 guests so our get-together turned into a full-fledged par-tay. I don't want to speak for anyone else, but I had a great time and judging by the fact that the last guests left sometime after midnight (and they were the first to arrive at 7:30), I think the evening was a success.

In true Stephanie fashion, I had too much food, but I'd rather be known for always having too much than be the hostess who never has enough, quantity- and variety-wise.

I'm sure most of the people there thought I was crazy when I pulled out the camera to take a picture of my food-covered table, but most of them were probably just happy I didn't turn the lens their way.

I made:
And I had chips and salsa and some candy set out for anyone craving chocolate. And all that was for the maybe 10 people total I figured on for the night. Can you imagine what I would've done if I'd known to expect 16 of us?

The McHusband says the Butterscotch Bars might be his favorite dessert ever that I've made. And since desserts are probably what I like to make the most, that should tell you how many he's sampled so for these to rise to the top means something. I use white chocolate chips in mine and don't do the raisins or nuts. Also, I made them the first time in a 9 x 13 pan and I thought they were a tad too thin so this time I made them in my pan that's about an inch smaller and I liked that thickness better. I might try to do 1.5 times the recipe and use a 9 x 13 pan next time.

For the cake bars, I just used lemon cake mix instead of a plain yellow one. I've made these before and they always go over really well.

For the pizza, I caramelized my onions (diced into large pieces instead of strips) in brown sugar and butter the night before then I stuck 'em in the fridge once they'd cooled. My dough must not have spread out as large as the one the recipe calls for because I only used about half an 8-oz brick of cream cheese. The verdict: Delicious! I loved the heat that the red pepper flakes added, which was a nice contrast to the sweetness of the onions. I'll definitely be making this again.

Crack Dip is called that because it's so good you can't stop eating it. It's just cream cheese, sour cream, cheddar cheese and bacon bits mixed together and baked, but man is it good.

I got the spicy pretzel recipe from a blog I read and as long as you like your food to have a little kick, you'll like these.

So it was no St. Patrick's Day party, but the kitchen still proved that a good night was had by all when I got downstairs Saturday morning.

I'd thought maybe we'd hang out on the patio, but everyone just stayed in the kitchen standing around the island. I think that's what always happens. Thank goodness we upgraded the island right after we moved in since it's apparently THE place to be. If it doesn't happen before, we'll have to do a patio party in the spring. Hear that, neighbors? Hold me to it: Party at the McHouse in, oh, 6 or 7 months.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Another McWedding: Part III

The wedding took place at the Weymouth Center. We weren't inside much, but it seemed like a nice enough place. I have a feeling, though, that the exterior is what won Andy and Jill over. At one point, I just walked around to see what I could see.

And now you get to see. See?

This fountain was hidden away in the woods.

This is the view from where the squirrel was cooling his, uh, belly.

Uh oh, I've been spotted!

The McMom took some pictures with our camera. I particularly like this one. Uh, McMom, would you like to explain?

The bride and groom, and the groom and his (and the McHusband's) cousin.

Daniel and Macy, Andy's niece, got along famously.

They weren't the only ones out on the dance floor.

And look who's not out on the dance floor. The McHusband and I never made it out there, and I think Macy wore Daniel out.

We had a great time at the wedding, and it was really nice to get to visit with people we'd just seen but don't seen often enough. I hope it's not too long before our next opportunity to spend time together rolls around.