Thursday, May 31, 2012

Kim’s Baby Shower: The food

You may have noticed over the course of this blog or because you’ve been to some of my get-togethers, but I tend to go a bit overboard when it comes to the food.  I guess my thinking is that I want to make sure there’s something for everyone, and not just ONE thing, but I want everyone to have several things they like.



I decided to keep the food for the shower as simple as possible.  Between there being only women in attendance and the 2:00 start time, I figured plates would be far from loaded down.  Turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong.


The savory:


The sweets:


The sips:

  • Sangria (Instead of the 2 c. pineapple juice, I used a can of pineapple chunks; I didn’t add the ginger ale; I added about a cup of peach schnapps and half a cup of cherry vodka)
  • Best Punch Ever (Mix together strawberry Jell-O powder, 2 c. water, limeade concentrate, and large can pineapple juice; freeze in Ziploc bag; put in punch bowl and pour a two-liter of ginger ale over the frozen mixture.)
  • Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay

The sangria was gone in no time, which surprised me but in a good way.  I wish I’d made a double batch since everyone obviously enjoyed it so much.  Same with the Best Punch Ever.  That recipe came from Shawn and Vanessa and they didn’t lie, it was good stuff.

The real star of the party (besides Kim, of course) were the crab cakes.  Those things were so much better than I expected and everyone said how yummy they were (as they headed back to grab more).  They were very easy to put together.  I made the filling the night before then Melissa, my cohostess, put them together with the crumb mixture right before the shower.  I bet you could make these in regular muffin tins and have them as a meal.  If you’re looking for an appetizer that’ll impress, give these crabby bites a try.

Kim requested brownies with frosting and I still had some frosting from that cookie dough-cake concoction from the other weekend.  The two worked very well together.  One of Kim’s favorite flavor combos is lemon and raspberry so that’s what inspired the cupcake choice.  I kicked it up a notch with the homemade lemon curd filling.


I went heavy on the frosting and ended up having to make a second batch of it, but I was out of raspberry jam.  Luckily I had some homemade (not by me) strawberry jelly so I was able to make enough frosting for the rest of the cupcakes.

Here, Leigh can demonstrate why I ran out of frosting.  My philosophy is that the frosting should be as tall as the cupcake.


More people pics to come!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012





Tuesday, May 29, 2012

{Recipe Recap} Strawberry Yogurt Bread

I had Greek yogurt.  I had strawberries.  This recipe popped up on Tasty Kitchen at just the right time.


I used almond extract instead of vanilla and you should’ve smelled my kitchen while the bread was baking.


I cut off one end of the bread to try it and for pictures and I froze the rest of the loaf.  But the small piece I tried was pretty good.  A little healthy-tasting, but not bad.


I hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend.  I enjoyed way more ice cream than I should’ve eaten and I’m assuming I’m not the only one who may’ve indulged so that’s why I went with a not-too-bad-for-you baked good today.


{Recipe here}

Friday, May 25, 2012

{Recipe Recap} Snickerdoodle Blondies

Shawn requested something with cookie dough for his birthday treat, and I knew the cake I chose to make would go over well with most people but just in case someone in the group wasn’t as in love with chocolate as I tend to be, I decided to whip up a second treat.  Little did I know that Shawn’s such a snickerdoodle fan; turns out, I chose dessert number two wisely.


These Snickerdoodle Blondies may look unassuming, and the recipe doesn’t even come across as all that special, but the bars taste amazing.

The texture was perfect.  It was dense and fudgy but not gooey in that “Are you sure they’re baked all the way through?” way.


And I loved both the look and the taste of the cinnamon-sugar-nutmeg topping.


While the layer cake looked way more impressive and took a lot more work, I think everyone at dinner would agree that these blondies took the cake (sorry, had to!).  Everyone wanted the recipe and Vanessa even requested them as her birthday treat.  Her birthday was actually yesterday (Happy Birthday, V!), but we’re celebrating in a couple of weeks with our traditional girls’ dinner.

If you’re looking for something simple and scrumptious to make for a cookout this weekend, consider these Snickerdoodle Blondies.


TGIF and have a wonderful LONG weekend!

P.S. Happy Birthday, Maxie!  Where did the year go?

{Recipe here}

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Worth every calorie


I read about this Sea Salt Caramel Gelato by Talenti and tried it for the first time in Florida.  I ate the whole pint in one night.  I tried to put it away so I could have more the next day, but it kept calling to me from the freezer and the only way to shut it up was to scarf it down. 

Yeah, I showed that gelato who was boss, didn’t I?

When I stopped in Harris Teeter last Friday for groceries, I saw that the Talenti collection at this particular HT finally included the Sea Salt Caramel flavor.  There was no hesitating; I grabbed a pint and put it in my basket.  You know, for the McHusband to try.  I mean, it was just selfish for me to keep something so amazingly delicious to myself.

He felt the same way I did about it, but it lasted him a little longer even with me enjoying a few bites.

The texture of this stuff is super smooth and the flavor was just so incredible.  It basically tasted like Kraft caramels in ice cream form.

I can’t wait to try some of the other flavors, like the new Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup and the healthier Blood Orange.

Do yourself a favor and get a pint of Talenti Gelato ASAP!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

{Recipe Recap} Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cake

Shawn requested a dessert with cookie dough as his birthday treat.  I branched out of my cupcake and cookie comfort zone and made him a layer cake.


It’s not the prettiest cake, and it can’t hold a candle to Heather’s, but how it looked didn’t negatively affect how it tasted.

The original recipe had three different layers: Devil’s Food on the bottom, cheesecake in the middle, and cookie dough on top.  I didn’t have time to make three different layers so I went with two chocolate cake layers with the cookie dough in the middle.


The frosting for this cake was…different.  I actually thought of making just a simple vanilla buttercream, but I’m so glad I decided to make the frosting that goes with the original recipe.  It was so good I used the leftovers on the brownies for Kim’s shower this past weekend.  I know cocoa powder and molasses seem like a strange combination, but I promise that it works.


I definitely need to practice my frosting techniques, but at least I can use a pastry bag and frosting tip to do fancy dollops on top.


This cake is up there as one of my favorite culinary concoctions.  I even had another piece the night after Shawn’s birthday dinner because I was sending the rest of the cake into the office with the McHusband, and I wasn’t quite ready to give it up yet.  I’m normally pretty good about enjoying just the one serving of whatever I make, but one slice just wasn’t going to cut it this time.


Anyone else want one of these cakes for their birthday?  I’m already craving another piece.



{Original recipe here}


I referred to Baking Illustrated for my cake recipe.  I can’t wait to try this as cupcakes where the cake flavor and texture can be featured a little more prominently.


1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tsp. espresso powder

1 cup boiling water

½ cup sour cream

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1¼ cups all-purpose flour

¾ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

16 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature

1¾ cups sugar

2 large eggs


To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line two cupcake pans with paper liners (24 total).  Combine the cocoa powder and espresso powder in a small bowl.  Add the boiling water and whisk until the mixture is smooth.  Set aside and let cool to room temperature.  Once cool, whisk in the sour cream and vanilla extract.

Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.  Stir together with a fork to combine; set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar.  Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes.  Beat in the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the bowl as needed. 

With the mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients in three additions, alternately with the cocoa-sour cream mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Beat each addition just until incorporated.  Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cupcake liners.  Bake 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Bear with me, I’m playing a bit of a catch-up game.  A group of us went to the Zac Brown Band concert a couple Fridays ago.  The weather started off really beautiful and perfect for an outdoor concert.  But once the sun went down, it cooled off tremendously.

We – that’d be Greg, Kim, Jari, Chelle, and I – arrived early enough to eat our dinners (sandwiches from Which Wich?) and have a couple drinks before heading into the pavilion.




Once inside, we were lucky enough to pick a spot on the lawn close to where Terry and Vickie happened to be hanging out.


They were up on this deck thanks to their neighbor, a DJ with the local country station, who gave them some passes (or something along those lines).  They returned the photo favor by taking one of me.


And as you can see, ZBB pulled in a crowd, which was very apparent than when we tried to leave later.  Oh man, I’ve never wanted one of those “Beam me up, Scotty!” thingies more than when we tried to get home after the concert.

Kim, Jari, Jari’s friend, and I are going back to the pavilion in a couple of weeks for another country concert.  This time we’ll see Lady Antebellum and Darius Rucker.  I’ve seen both of them before, but not together.  Should be a great concert, and I’ll keep my fingers crossed for excellent weather.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Funday Monday

::Sigh::  It’s Monday.  Again.  I know all the days get equal time on the calendar, but how come Monday’s the one that comes around the quickest and seems to last the longest?

But enough dwelling on the weekend being over.  Let’s look back at how it went.

Friday was all about shower prep.  I finally sat down with some Grey’s  a little after 11:00 but it wasn’t to watch TV, it was to finish up my last project of the evening – the favors.  I recruited the McHusband from 11:30 to midnight to get them bagged and tagged.


I got up at 7:30 Saturday morning so I could get in a quick run before – you guessed it – getting back to shower stuff.  It was a busy morning, but it was worth it.  We had a great time celebrating Kim and the daughter-we-haven’t-met-yet.


So where was the McHusband while my house was busting at the seams with estrogen?  He’d planned to spend the day doing fun car stuff with some friends.  Instead, he did some not-so-fun townhouse stuff.


Our realtor called at 10:00 Saturday morning.  He was showing the townhouse and found what you see above.  The short story is that the toilet in the master bathroom was leaking and it had been for long enough to create a puddle that found its way under the floor and out through the ceiling over the den.

I may let the McHusband post about the whole debacle since he handled it.  Basically, it could be worse.  Thank goodness for insurance and ServPro.

We went over to Heather and Bruce’s Saturday night and hung out in a circle in the driveway, talking and relaxing and having some beer.  Well, not me; I went with water and pizza.  The McHusband needed the beer after the day he’d had so I was the DD.

Sunday was MUCH calmer with laundry, TV, some dismantling of the shower, and spinning.  We tried a new recipe for grilled shrimp for dinner and it was pretty good.  Not the best ever, but very easy to put together so it’s definitely worth remembering.


Hope you all had good weekends!  Anyone else out there wishing theirs had lasted just a little bit longer?

Friday, May 18, 2012

I'm late to the game today.  I was busy with these guys last night.

A couple things to know:
1. They are not meatballs.
2. They are for Kim's shower.

I'll be sure to explain the mystery meat in my shower post.

As always - TGIF!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

{Recipe Recap} Dulce de Leche Cookies with Butterscotch Chips and Marshmallow Bits

Since I gave you such a healthy recipe yesterday, I figured I needed to redeem myself with a dessert post for you today.

I should shorten the name of these cookies to McHusband Cookies.  He LOVED them.  The combination of the dulce de leche and the melted butter made for a great flavor base for the cookie, and how could you go wrong with butterscotch chips and those adorable mini marshmallows?



I took these to Chelle and Jeremy’s where we were meeting up with Heather, Bruce, and their girls for dinner and hanging out.  They all seemed to agree with the McHusband – these cookies were scrumptious!


I love the crackly exterior that gave way to a perfectly chewy cookie.


Each cookie was just loaded with the chips and bits (As any good cookie should be, can I get an amen?).


Do yourself a favor: Go buy some Dulce de Leche and make these cookies ASAP.  Use whatever chips, bits, and pieces that float your boat, but don’t mess with the dulce de leche-butter combo.


{Adapted from this recipe}

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

{Recipe Recap} Veggie Sausage Egg Casserole

This is our new favorite breakfast.  And dinner.


I made it the first time when the moms were up here in April.  I pretty much followed the recipe to the letter that time and we all liked it, but I knew the McHusband and I would prefer a spicy version.

I added chopped jalapenos and crushed red pepper, and I reduced the cheese to one cup.  I also doubled the sausage patties so that we could have 12 squares, each one with a patty.  I entered the recipe into MFP, which calculated each square at 176 calories and 17 grams of protein.  We typically eat a square-and-a-half.


Leftovers keep in the fridge for at least a week.  I even froze 6 squares wrapped in foil and we moved them to the fridge when we were ready for them and those were delicious as well.  I’ve since made one more casserole and we still love it.  I’ve been eating it in the evenings instead of cereal.  I know, I know, it’s still breakfast for dinner.  Baby steps here, people.

I highly recommend you try this casserole.  It doesn’t seem healthy at all and the flavor is amazing, whether you choose to add some heat or not.

{Recipe here}

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


So who made it to our gathering?


Steve and Tawnya (and their pinata friend) and Kevin showed up a little later.


Steph 1



Soon enough, it was time to head out to the garage for some paper animal abuse.


Is it just me, or does the McHusband look a little unsure that this is going to work?


The pinata isn’t the only thing that busted open.


Oh yeah, did I mention our pinata was stuffed with airplane bottles of liquor?


I love how entertained Vickie is in this picture.


At least he died for a good cause.


We had an uninvited guest.


After fortifying himself with some Jose Cuervo, a Growler of Devil’s Tramping Ground seemed like a good idea.


And then it was time to do a shot with friends.


Kevin and Shawn, our resident non-drinkers, were having a good time watching the rest of us be silly.



Three blondes walk up to a bar…


A couple of couples.



I think Tawnya was taking a picture of us.



We learned the hard way not to feed Steve after midnight.


I apologize for the birds, but I had to include this picture.  I have NO IDEA what I’m doing, or why Vanessa’s reacting like that.  But I love how sweetly Shawn’s looking at Vanessa, and how Kevin’s not bothered by any of it.  Must’ve been a good cookie.


That pretty much wraps up the gathering.  It was a good time as always.

The end!

Steph 2