Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sheldon would be proud

Who else watches The Big Bang Theory? That show never fails to crack me up at least once in its weekly half-hour run. Sheldon is hilarious, and even if the show were to end with this week's episode, I don't doubt that Sheldon would be an iconic TV character.

Sheldon is a theoretical physicist, a true scientist. I know he'd appreciate Bill's toast, which gives credit where credit is due.

(Daphne is Veerle's older sister and was her maid of honor.)

For a Sheldon experience, check out this video: (It's even related to cars.)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Bill and Veerle's Wedding

The McHusband's good friend Bill got married a couple weekends ago. Like us, he actually met his future bride in high school, but they didn't get together until after college. Funny how things work out sometimes, huh?

The ceremony location. It was soooo pretty.

Here comes the bride, here comes the bride...

First married smooch.

Husband and wife!

They got married at a little inn tucked away in a residential neighborhood. It had a little pool with a bridge over it. Here, let us show you.

Our table with mostly high school buddies plus the McInlaws who had fun catching up with everyone.

Eric and his girlfriend Priscila.

Bill and Veerle during the best man's speech.

Some of you who have known the McHusband and me for a while will be familiar with Bill even though you've never met him because we made you listen to his messages that we saved FOR YEARS on our answering machine. Bill would call on my birthday and sing me a song (usually the traditional "Happy Birthday" but not always) and then he'd just hang up as soon as the song was done. One time, he called as "Tyrone" and said he met me at the gym. Anyway, Adam, the best man, was telling stories about how he'd see that Bill was calling him and sometimes he'd just let the call go to voicemail because he wanted to see what kind of message Bill would leave. I could totally relate.

I don't know where the transcript came from, but the important thing is Adam had it at the wedding and made Bill read it. And, more importantly, I got it on video.

{Quick note: Veerle's from Belgium, which is where Waffle Town comes from. I think. One can never be too sure when assuming how Bill's mind works.}

After the speeches, it was time for cake. Bill was nice to Veerle, but she didn't exactly return the favor.

The cleaned-up groom and me.

The photographer took a picture of all of us high school peeps, and the McMom was able to sneak in a few with my camera.

Bill and Veerle hosted a cookout for the younger crowd at their house that evening. Guess who else got invited? Tucker! He and Paxton, Bill and Veerle's dog, destroyed Paxton's new toy.

Check out that motley crew. From L to R: the McHusband, Eric, Adam, Eric, and Neeraj.

Not only was it a great day to be at our friends' wedding, but we had a wonderful time catching up with old friends. So who's gonna get married next and host the subsequent reunion?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Recipe Recap: Mexican Mocha Bundt Cake

I made this cake a while ago and told my mom and the McMom about it. They both thought it sounded good, and the McMom asked if I could bring some to Charlotte this past weekend. It was pretty easy to make so I said sure, I'd whip one up and take it with us to share with everyone.

When I made it the first time, I skipped the pudding layer. It just seemed unnecessary, and it seemed like a fair number of the negative comments this recipe got pertained to that part of the recipe.

No pudding layer = success! The cake tasted like I expected: chocolate and cinnamon. I'm a big fan of that combo.

I left the coffee granules out but kept the Kahlua in. I also added a simple glaze, which pretty much soaked into the cake, and sprinkled a cinnamon-sugar mixture over the top.

I really liked the chocolate chips in the bread. It was nice to have that extra concentrated dose of chocolate when a bite included them.

Okay, on to the second time I made the cake.

Pudding layer = fail.

The edges and the outer parts of the cake were done but I couldn't get the middle to set up. Wanna see what happens when there's no Bundt pan to hold your cake together?

The yellow isn't egg, that's the pudding. Now, I will have to say that I learned one important thing in making this cake. (I know, you're like, "Really, she only learned ONE important thing?") Adding Kahlua to French Vanilla pudding takes the pudding to a whole 'nother level. I can't wait to try White Chocolate pudding with Bailey's in it.

While the cake looks like a total mess, it actually tasted just fine. It worked out well as a molten cake warmed up with some ice cream on top. So the ooze factor was a problem at first, but I was able to salvage the dessert in the end.

{Recipe here}

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Recipe Recap: Chocolate Tart with Honey Crust

I came across this recipe on a blog called "Sprinkle bakes." According to the profile info, she loves baking and dessert making. It just so happens that I love dessert eating so we're a match made in cyber-heaven.

I had whipping cream left over from one of the desserts I made a couple weeks ago and all I needed to complete the ingredient list for this tart was a box of graham cracker crumbs. I love when that happens.

This tart isn't for everyone. If you're crazy like the McHusband and don't like a strong chocolate flavor, then you probably won't care too much for this tart. But if you're perfectly sane like me, then give it a try, you won't be disappointed.

Look at all that uninterrupted chocolate.

With a dessert this rich, it was a good thing that the crust was as tall as the chocolate layer.

I thought this crust was especially tasty, and I think I'll file it away to use as my go-to graham cracker crust recipe.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Chase and Leah

The McHusband and I were busy this past weekend. We headed to Charlotte on Thursday after work, to SC and back on Friday, met up with friends Friday night, went to a wedding and a cookout on Saturday, then visited with my mom, Bri, and Lyla on Sunday. Whew!

We went to SC to visit Kevin, Jenny, and Chase and to meet little miss Leah Grace. Chase's birthday was a couple weeks ago so we took his birthday gift - wooden Thomas trains - with us.

As you can see, Leah was enthralled.

Chase showed us the truck depot that his Aunt Laura got him for his birthday. The McHusband and I were both lucky enough to get a turn inside.

While Chase was napping a little later, I was tasked with holding the sleeping baby once she had a full belly. Sigh. An aunt's work is never done. And thank goodness for that.

The weather couldn't have been more perfect that afternoon so once everyone under 3 feet tall had a nap, we went outside.

The McHusband found that Chase had lots of fun stuff to play with.

Say cheese, Chase!

We girls were content up on the deck.

I think that's Leah's "I'm workin' on something" face because she needed changed shortly thereafter and required a new shirt.

I'll leave you with this video of Chase just being a little boy. Sand, his voice, and energy to run around - what more do you need?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Just Desserts

Once Heather added her pumpkin cake (YUM, by the way), here's most of what we were loading our plates with.

I was bad and didn't get photos of the table once we added Kim's brownies, Ronna's lemon squares, Kristen's Orange Crush Poundcake, or Chelle's ice cream.

Of course, everyone started off in the kitchen near the food.

The McHusband and Bruce, once they'd gotten their sugar highs, went outside to get the fire started. I'm sure I don't want to know what the McHusband was using as an accelerant. All I know is that it seemed to do the trick.

The gang left the sweets behind to gather around the fire pit.

Let's go 'round the campfire and see who we have...

Kim and Ronna.

Chelle and Kristen.

Greg and Shawn, both looking very serious.

Jeremy and Kevin.

The McHusband and Eric.

Me, Heather and Vanessa.

And Vanessa doing her thug (or, if you're our British neighbor, her Unabomber) impression.
All in all, it was a fun night spent with a great group of people. The McHusband and I are lucky to count these people among our friends.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Just call me Stephie Crocker

I baked up a storm last week for a dessert night at our house on Friday. At dinner the previous Friday, I was talking about some recipes I wanted to try and Shawn very generously offered to be a guinea pig. How could I say no?

I made four desserts and three of them were successes. Okay, 3.5 of them because the cupcake itself was good, but the frosting wasn't great.

I made chocolate cupcakes FROM SCRATCH, which I've never done before. I mean, they make those boxed mixes for a reason, you know? But this recipe was so easy that I knew I could handle it. I loved that it used a can of Hershey's syrup, which was the only "special" ingredient I needed to pick up.

The McHusband got a couple pictures of me hard at work. Okay, more like my KitchenAid mixer hard at work while I, in true NC construction crew fashion, supervised.

I'm happy to say that the cupcakes turned out really well and that recipe's a keeper.

I made a cream cheese icing - again, FROM SCRATCH - for another dessert so I topped one cupcake with leftover icing for an official taste test. (I didn't make the cupcake frosting until the next night, and I couldn't wait to try my cupcakes.) The cupcake passed with flying colors.

Next I made Fudge Puddles. You know those cookies that people put Reese's Peanut Butter cups in? I basically did that for the cookie, then I made a chocolate-butterscotch filling to put in the "puddles."

I love that I got to use my mini muffin bakeware. I doubled the dough recipe and ended up with 72 cookie cups.

I used the top of my vanilla extract container to push the dough down to create the well in the center. Can cookies be cute?

Oh, I made some Fluffer Nutter Puddles too - I just filled half the cookie cups with marshmallow creme. Peanut butter cookie with marshmallow filling? Sign me up!

And my last from-scratch recipe was a batch of Pumpkin Butterscotch Blondies that the McHusband deemed better than his previous favorite thing I make, the Butterscotch Bars. I made these because I had some pumpkin left from making the muffins and I wanted to use it up rather than throw it out. That's why I made the icing as well. I had 4 oz of cream cheese that I didn't want to languish in the fridge until it went bad and I was forced to throw it away.

I have to say, these blondies were probably my favorite treat of the night as well. They were just the right texture - not crunchy but not gooey, and they were a perfect thickness. Delish!

Okay, back to the cupcakes. I love a salty-sweet combination so I wanted to do a salted caramel frosting. I came across several recipes and used one that seemed simple enough for a novice baker without a candy thermometer in her arsenal of kitchen equipment.

Things were looking good as I made the salted caramel sauce. I wish I'd kept just a touch of this to put on the ice cream that Chelle brought for sundaes. I'll defintely make the sauce again for something even if I don't turn it into frosting.

I'll admit, it wasn't the most drool-worthy of color palettes.

Finally, at 11:30 Thursday night, everything was ready for Friday night's dessert party. Whew!

Stay tuned to see who showed up for their just desserts.