Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Hmm, what's all this?

Here's a hint: It has to do with our just-delivered new mattress.

We got a new mattress and box springs this weekend. The bed's so much higher now than we're used to. Before, we didn't have the box springs plus the new mattress is thicker. You know, it hasn't been smooshed down by 20 years of people laying on it.

So you have an idea of how high it is, here're the McHusband and me standing by the bed.

I don't know if it was a conscious decision, but we're each standing on our side of the bed.

More to come...

Friday, May 27, 2011

Recipe Recap: Banana Caramel Cake

I was originally going to make margarita cupcakes to take to Rick and Sabrina's party. Then I changed my mind and wanted to do a peanut butter cookie cupcake stuffed with chocolate ganache and topped with a chocolate frosting, one that I can't get enough of. I even considered doing a peaches and cream cake, something WAY outside my normal preferences.

But we had really ripe bananas begging for work and I came across a new-to-me banana cake recipe that sounded good. Little did I know how disappointed several of the party attendees were going to be when they saw me walking up with a Bundt pan and not a tray of cupcakes. See, I'd made another batch of those brownie-stuffed cupcakes using a peanut butter frosting on half and a chocolate frosting on the other half, and I brought them to Sabrina's birthday dinner the week before the party. Needless to say, they went over VERY well.

Anyway, back to the under-appreciated banana cake. I really liked the spices in this cake and the caramel was an added bonus. I didn't use any nuts and chopped up a dark chocolate Godiva bar, left over from my ganache, to add in. I think the chocolate flavor was a little strong so I'd probably go with milk chocolate next time.

I didn't get any good pictures of the cake so this one from Rick and Sabrina's house will have to do. Check out that thick layer of caramel on the bottom. I feel the same way about the caramel as I do about diet Sprite and alcohol - you really can't go wrong when you add it.

I have some more bananas on my counter that are destined to either be cut up and frozen for smoothies or smooshed for a baked good. I saw this recipe or one very similar in the most recent issue of one of my magazines. All I need is the pound cake (yes, I actually have dulce de leche in my pantry), which I could make from scratch, but I think I'll let Sara Lee take care of that for me.

Does this make post number FOUR for the week? Man, I better slack off slowly next week, I don't want you guys going through withdrawal. :)

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 26, 2011


I'm an aunt again! I know, I sound like a broken record, don't I? So long as our families keep having babies, I'll always have blog material.

Bri had her baby yesterday. Little Maxie Lee was born at 6:34 pm. She weighed 7 lbs, 1 oz and was 21 inches long. She's a whole pound bigger than Lyla was.

(Thanks, Shannon, for the pictures.)

I talked to Bri this morning and asked what Lyla thought of her new sister. Bri said Lyla came in the room and asked, "Where's my baby sister?" She saw Maxie then said, "I want to play with Owen." Ah, the love of a sister... :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Adios, amigos!

No, I'm not saying sayonara to my blog. We spent Saturday evening at Rick and Sabrina's enjoying one last party at their house here in NC before they head north to Boston. There's been a Christmas party at Rick's house for the past, I don't know, six or seven years at least. It was to the point that we didn't accept any other December party invitations until we knew for sure when Rick's party was because that was THE ONE we couldn't miss. I guess our calendar'll be a little more open this year...

I had my camera but didn't take as many pictures as I should have. I did remember to take one of the hosts and soon-to-be Beantown dwellers.

The McHusband and I spent a good portion of the night in the kitchen (Shocker, right?) catching up with Alex and her boyfriend, John. Aren't they cute?

I think we met John when we were at Rick and Sabrina's wedding but it's not like we had quality get-to-know-each-other time so on Saturday we were talking about the usual stuff: where do you live, where do you work, etc. It turns out that John has been to the McHusband's office. He had to deliver a table that had something to do with a case the company was working on. Small world, huh?

Guess what we're going to miss as much as the actual Christmas party? Rick's parents, Al and Peggy. Just like the spiked punch, they were a staple the Christmas party.

I should've gotten a picture of Byron and Lisa together, but I think the bottle of wine was impairing my judgment by that point. At least this picture is proof that they made it, no small feat considering Lisa's about 35 weeks pregnant and they live an hour away.

We got to the party a little after 5:00 and ended up staying until 1:00, which is a pretty late night for us these days. There were 9 of us still standing around midnight so we played Catch Phrase and, well, you know how crazy that can get.

You don't? Well, you should. It's good clean fun (if drinking before and/or while playing counts as "clean fun") and it's educational.

Yep, you learn just how much other people DON'T know.

We'll miss Rick and Sabrina and not just for their parties. Good luck up in Boston and we hope to visit soon!

Happy Birthday, Vanessa!

I went to The Cheesecake Factory with Vanessa and Jennifer on Friday. We were there for an early celebratory birthday for Vanessa's birthday, which is today. We got to sit outside, which was great because the weather was perfect for dining al fresco.

I had the Barbecue Salmon, which was on the Specials menu. Oh. Em. Gee. Salmon's not my favorite fish so I was a little hesitant, but I wanted to be halfway healthy and I figured the barbecue glaze would offset the seafood-ness of it. I was right - the BBQ flavor was very strong, which might actually be a negative for those REAL seafood lovers. I liked it so much, in fact, that I don't know if I'll ever get anything else when I go to The Cheesecake Factory.

Our waitress knew we were there for a birthday so without even being prompted, she brought her back-up singers and a mini-dessert.

She was kind enough to share it with Jennifer and me. None of us got any cheesecake; we were too full plus I'd brought each of them one of those surprise brownies.

Oops, Jennifer's shirt's having its Hollywood red carpet moment.

Good food, good friends...great night.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Recipe Recap: Secret Ingredient Brownie-Cupcakes

Looks like a regular old brownie just in the shape of a cupcake, right?

Cut this sucker in half, though, and you'll find the secret ingredient...

It's a Snickers Peanut Butter Bar!

I added this Cookies and Cups blog to my Google Reader recently. I enjoy her writing style in general, and the recipes and photos are, well, the proverbial icing on the cake. I love the story about Creeper Craig that she tells in this recipe's post.

I made these last night after work, the Y, and stopping at Harris Teeter on my way home. So I skipped the from-scratch brownie and used a Duncan Hines Double Fudge boxed mix instead.

Assembly was easy. Spray cupcake tin, mix up brownie batter, fill cupcake tin, push frozen Snickers in.

The Snickers being frozen is key. Probably has something to do with the baking and making sure the candy bar doesn't totally melt while the brownies are in the oven. But I think it's ACTUALLY so you aren't tempted to eat one for every one you push into the batter.

I used a spoon to smear batter over the top of the Snickers, then baked these for 17 minutes. I planned to fill the fallen middles with a chocolate-peanut butter ganache, but the PB flavor wasn't strong enough and they didn't need more chocolate so I'm saving the ganache for another treat.

The McHusband and I shared one of these while it was still warm last night. After we each had some of a cooled one today, we both like them better today.


Mixing and matching brownies with candy bars isn't rocket science (thank goodness!), but I'm glad I came across this recipe/idea. And hopefully Vanessa shares this sentiment since I made them in honor of her birthday, which she, Jennifer and I are celebrating tonight with dinner at The Cheesecake Factory.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

May Flowers

I have a joke for you.

What do April showers bring?
May flowers.

And what do May flowers bring?


Mother's Day was, what, almost two weeks ago? Hey, at least I'm posting this in the same month that it happened.

The McHusband and I spent an obscene amount of money at The Home Depot getting lawn stuff, gutter guards, and flowers. After stopping at Jersey Mike's for lunch (Anyone else love that place as much as we do? We look for any excuse to go into Fuquay around lunchtime on the weekends because it's pretty much understood that there'll be a stop at JM's.), we got started on our tasks for the afternoon. I'd just started prepping the mailbox area when the McHusband called me to help him with the gutter guards. This involved not one but TWO tall ladders and both of us being up on the roof of the porch.

I don't really do heights so it wasn't my favorite part of the day, but I put on a brave face for the camera.

At least I got to work on my tan while I was up there.

Once I was done with my reluctant rooftop apprenticeship, I headed back to the mailbox. I planted three poppy plants, three garden sages, and then three evening primrose plants in the back.

Guess what I've since learned? Evening primrose is a nighttime/low light bloomer. The informational thingie stuck in the pot didn't say a WORD about that, only that it bloomed in the season that I needed it to and liked lots of sun. Yeah, that's because it's storing all the energy for later. Sure, maybe "evening" should've been a clue, but that's like saying knockout roses are dangerous if you get too close.

I really love the poppies. The colors are so vibrant and the flowers themselves are a good size.

My phlox is coming back strong in the middle area as is whatever the sorta creeping pink flower is.

I added some two-toned daisies to the area. I believe they're perennials so fingers crossed that they come back bigger and better next year.

I kept the urns by the front porch pretty simple - just four plants and only two of them are flowers. Hopefully it'll be a really pretty combo in about a month.

That's dracena in the back then, from left to right, a yellow flower (the tag just says "Butterfly), a begonia, and then coleus.

I stuck the tags in the ground next to the urn so I could easily refer back to them.

Finally, I had three more "standard" daisies that I added to the area in front of the bushes on the right side of the porch. They're a little random, but I'm hoping mulch plus the returning vinca will help them feel at home. You can see my irises going strong under the dogwood tree. Those things came back super-strong this year!

A close-up of an iris. I love how frilly the petals are.

Hopefully I'll be good about taking some follow-up pictures and be back to report on my successful gardening. At the very least, I think we're adding mulch this weekend so that'll be the icing on the cake. We WILL get that Yard of the Month stake!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Recipe Recaps: Tasty Tilapia and Lemon Cream Bars

I don't have any pictures of these. I know, what was I thinking? How can you write about food and not provide a tempting photo? I'll try to do better.

The McHusband and I wanted to have fish last Sunday night so I picked up some tilapia, a new mustard that I had a coupon for, and some panko crumbs. I didn't have a recipe, I was just kinda thinking that my combo would work. And guess what? It was delicious! We'll be eating Tilapia a la The McWife on a regular basis.

You'll need: tilapia filets, French's Dijon with Chardonnay mustard, panko crumbs, pepper, and grated Parmesan cheese.

For three filets, I mixed a quarter cup of crumbs with probably a teaspoon of pepper and a tablespoon or so of Parmesan cheese.

I spread the mustard on one side of a tilapia filet then put it mustard side-down in the crumb mixture and kinda pressed down to make sure the crumbs really stuck to the fish. With the fish still mustard side-down, I coated the other side with mustard and then flipped the filet so the other side could get crumby (not to be confused with crummy). Repeat for the next two (or however many you're eating) filets.

I baked the fish in a shallow glass pie plate at 375 degrees for 15 minutes, then flipped the filets and broiled the underside for a couple of minutes just to help them not be soggy.

BEST. FISH. EVER. From my kitchen anyway.

What do you need after a healthy seafood dinner? Dessert, of course!

This past weekend, I made some Lemon Cream Bars. I had everything but the lemons and it was a simple recipe so I thought, "Why not?" I made them to take to a graduation party where I knew there was going to be chocolate cake so I figured the lemon was a good flavor to throw into the mix.

These were really good. The lemon flavor was definitely there, but it wasn't overpowering like lemon sometimes can be. It was tempered nicely by the sweetened condensed milk and by being sandwiched between essentially two layers of crust. Oh, speaking of the crust: I ended up using the whole crust recipe for the bottom layer and making a half-batch for the topping. If you can get half to spread over the whole bottom of your 9 x 13 pan, let me know, but it wasn't happening for me.

I've starred some really fabulous-looking desserts in my Google Reader recently, and I'm looking forward to our busy social summer season as all the excuse I need to whip up some treats.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Sara's Baby Shower

Kim and two other friends hosted Sara's baby shower on Saturday. I haven't been to that many baby showers, but I would say that this was one of the most fun. Maybe it was the mimosas? Good job, girls!

Sara was adorable in her purple dress.

Check out all the gifts! He's a lucky boy already.

Sara's doing dinosaurs in the nursery so there was a prehistoric theme running through the shower. A dinosaur cookie cutter was hanging from the light over the table.

And below that were chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting topped with fondant dinosaurs. RAWRRRR!

You gotta see a close-up of these delectable dinos.

Sara got lots of important baby stuff like a manly diaper bag (so the hubby will be seen sporting it from his shoulder).

Kim wondered if the baggies for dirty diapers were cheaper than the ones for picking up after your dog on walks. (Side note: We have to use grocery bags to pick up after our dogs; those baggies wouldn't cut it.)

Other very important baby gear included a Rock n Play Sleeper and a laundry basket filled with must-haves like hangers and, um, other baby-related items.

I got Sara a few essentials off her registry, but I couldn't resist a sleeper and a t-shirt for the kid to wear next summer. Sara and her husband aren't known for their abilities to reach the top shelf at the grocery store so I thought a sleeper with a giraffe looking down at a turtle and the words, "Who you calling short?" on it was appropriate.

And we all know where you can find Sara as many weekend as possible in the summer...

Kim gave Sara a dinosaur towel that we joked the kid would be taking to college with him.

Can you see him now, walking down the hall from the bathroom to his room with the hoodie part on his head and the spikes down his back? No? Hmm, again, maybe it was the mimosas...

Friday, May 6, 2011

After-dinner dunk, drinks, and dessert

After dinner, Chase wanted to go swimming in the "pool," which is the hot tub on the sunporch. Jenny got in with him and the McHusband hung out with them while I fed Leah and watched.

Leah took about half her bottle then didn't seem interested in the rest so we just enjoyed each other's company.

I forget why I handed her off to the McHusband (more wine maybe?), but I made sure to get some pictures of him holding her.

"Uh, you sure you want to leave me with his guy?"

Aw, what a sweet moment.

Once the kids were in bed, the McHusband and Kevin took Kevin's truck to fill the tank so it'd be ready to go for their predawn departure the next morning. We girls took our wine out to the patio.

It wasn't long and we were ready for dessert. The McMom had made a layered pudding dessert and we had my brownie-stuffed cupcakes, of which I'd only had the one two days before. So I took a big chunk of the pudding thing as well as a cupcake. I'd already finished a bottle of wine by myself so there really wasn't any point in counting calories at that point. Not that I was in any shape to do so...

One dessert down, one to go.

Between the wine and the letdown after the sugar rush, I ended up sacked out on the couch for about an hour before we finally made it up to bed. Yep, I'm a crazy party animal!

The next morning, we had some help getting packed up.

Leah was ready for a nap, but she toughed it out long enough for me to snap a few final pictures.

Chase and Leah stayed in Charlotte this week while Kevin and Jenny did their best to get somewhat settled in Michigan. They fly back tomorrow to pick up their babies and the dogs and then they make the long drive for the second time in one week, this time in the van with two kids and two dogs in the back.

Keep your fingers crossed for them, okay?