Wednesday, August 31, 2011

back to school birthday present

I recently wrote about my love of all things paper related and school supplies.  You people may think I'm kidding...I'm not.  as a kid my dad and brother would always want to go in book stores. I hated it.  I'm still not fan of book stores...or books for that matter...harry potter series aside (and that I started "reading" when I found out I could get the books on tape for scholastic this one!).  Me? I would long to just go browse in Office Max.  cool huh? What? you already have 3 calendars on your desk right now and you "need" another? yes, always.  I also have a sharpie pen cup and a normal pen cup.  because I'm cool like that.

My mom, she knows this about me.  She was awesome and got me a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils for my birthday...helloooo awesome.  Duh, we all love that Meg Ryan put our own desires in to words and have longed for the day for someone to do that just for us.  It finally happened and it was awesome.  Thanks Mom!

Also, my friend Caitlin...she is equally as awesome as my mom (granted, she didn't birth me...but still...)  And she got me this for my birthday...

WHAT?! are you freaking serious?!  A school supply "cake" (like a diaper "cake"'s not really an edible cake...but school supplies shaped like a tiered cake).  what in the world!  I LURVED it to say the least.  And love that my friends know me so well.  Are you jealous? What? you don't LOVE highlighters and paper clips? Who are you?  you should love them.

Here's the breakdown...

sharpie highlighters, sharpie pens, crayon packs, post it notes, file folders, paper clips,
and a cute polka dot casserole dish!!!

Thanks so much caitlin for being awesome, creative, and knowing things that I love!

Monday, August 29, 2011

cherry vanilla cupcakes

I saw the recipe for a cherry vanilla was for valentine's day and was in a heart shaped pan.  well...I know August is far from February, but I do love me some cherry and vanilla goodness.  what's not to love? So I thought it would balance out the chocolate-ness of the cake and brownie pops.

naturally...cherry vanilla cupcakes start with ...CHERRIES! you guessed it!

you can get whole maraschino cherries and cut them in halves, but I lucked out and just happened to buy the "halves" jar.  So all I had to do was separate the cherries and juice...and do my best to not make a good old fashioned cherry coke.  no worries, I refrained.

next up, for cherry vanilla cupcakes, you need VANILLA! and we aren't talking about a 1teaspoon of vanilla extract either folks.  we are talking pure vanilla seeds from a vanilla bean...that you get yourself, with your own hands.  this was a big deal for me.  I'd never worked with vanilla beans. (quite expensive little boogers, and only 2 come in a jar, so they are very valuable!)

you end up mixing the cherries, vanilla seeds, white cake mix and all the goodness it calls for all together.  And I do think this would make a very good cake.  If you do make cupcakes like I did with the recipe, I would cut up your cherry halves into fourths, just to make it a bit smaller for the cupcake.  Regardless, I used my trusty martha cupcake pans (I love them...and her, can't go wrong). 

I use an ice cream scoop to scoop cupcakes.  and they are never perfect...I feel like they are made with more love that way :)

next up, use your trusty kitchen timer...naturally, I trust martha's the most :) and I think it's pretty...

and before you now it, you've got yummy cherry vanilla cupcakes that look amazing b/c you see the vanilla bean seeds among the pinkness and it that makes it seem special. 

add your favorite frosting (I used cream cheese) and your done!

Friday, August 26, 2011

the longest post about the best chocolate cake!

I made my first ever bundt cake for my birthday party and I think it turned out to be a success.  It was certainly a labor or love, but well worth the effort.  I tried to hone in on my inner p-dub food photog skills while baking this cake...let's see how I did...

first up, finely chopped semisweet chocolate

sift some cocoa and enjoy all the many forms of chocolate in your kitchen!

grease the bundt pan (this recipe was the for the anniversary bundt cake pan from Willimas-Sonoma...I did not have that...AND i think the one I had was a bit shallow-er...which caused some overflow in the oven, but all is well) and dust with cocoa powder.

combine cocoa powder, chocolate in bowl and add boiling water. whisk until the chocolate melts and mixture is smooth and blended.

over a sheet of parchment, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt.

we interrupt this regularly scheduled blog post to show you 2 of my favorite kitchen tools..

the sifter...awesome and fun...

and my Handy martha stewart measuring spoon (all in 1)

With an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy. add the brown sugar and beat until blended. add the eggs a little at a time...beat in the vanilla.  GOD BLESS MY KITCHENAID!

when the rest of my kitchen looks like this, I know she is still holding strong and working!

reduce the speed and add the flour mixture in three addition, alternating with the sour cream and ending with the flour. slowly pour in the chocolate-cocoa mixture. gently fold in the chocolate chips.

I've never done a bundt cake or pound cake before because they take so freaking long. this worked to my advantage this time b/c I had other recipes to whip together while it baked.  It takes about 60-65 minutes.  The recipe said to let it cool upright in the pan for about 15 minutes. I didn't do this...and just inverted in on the wire rack immediately.  that may be why I had a little damaged spot...

but I didn't mind. from this angle...all was well :)

the ganache included more chocolate, butter, boiling cream, whisking...and unfortunately no pictures! however, in the end, she was pretty and yummy and moist and delightful!

Here is the recipe for you to try! I promise it won't disappoint...oh, and feel free to invite me over if you make it :)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

happy birthday liz!

happy birthday to blue!
happy birthday to blue!
happy birthday dear Elizabeth,
happy birthday to blue!

get it? ah...hilarious.

Elizabeth...dear friend...HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!  It's been a whole year since her last birthday post...and she continues to take life by the reigns and make it the best darn life ever.  

elizabeth always brings a smile to my face.  It was so great having her back in town for my wedding.  she played double-duty as bridesmaid AND cupcake chef for some rehearsal dinner "thank you" treats we gave to friends and family.  of course they were awesome...just like Liz.

Elizabeth, on your birthday today, I hope you don't feel old.  I hope you feel accomplish, young, proud, and excited about this next new year.  You manage to make each year full of surprises and goals you set for yourself and you end up accomplishing wonderful tasks.  I LOVED that I got to see your commercial last night, right before your big day.  I think it means this year is a big year :)  You are such a treasure to so many.  I love seeing where life takes you...and where you take your life.  Know that you are so very loved, prayed for, and celebrated on this 29th birthday!!!!

we have both clearly, always been awesome!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

birthday party sneak peek!

woah. I've been 29 for almost a week.  29 is tricky...not as big of a deal as 30 by any means (oh, seem like such a close friend these days) but still...last year in your twenties, that's kind of landmark kind of year.  A lot happened in my 20s...big, HUGE, massive things that have completely shaped the person I am today.  Not that I'm totally different than when I was 21 but umm...let's just say a VERY GOOD kind of different.  I've learned lots about life, people, my self, my own dreams, my heart, my emotions, my outlook, learning about roommates, cowokers, owning cars, paying off debt, etc.  it's a big decade your 20s. 

(birthday flowers from Josh and mom!)

anyway...for my party this year, I had a hard time figuring out what I wanted to do.  Everything I came up with seemed like a fun idea for next year...the big one, 3-0...not just same ol' same ol' 29.  So, finally I came up with just doing drinks and desserts.  With our house on the market, I knew I couldn't do anything too early in the evening in case someone wanted to look at the hosue, so I opeted for a later party with just desserts.  It worked out great.  I chose a few fun colors to decorate...

and then baked up a storm in the kitchen!!!

check back later this week for the fun recipes and treats!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

the wilson co. fair: folks and fun

well...I suppose I'll wrap up my fair experience with this last post.  I don't want you to get burnt out on fair awesomeness...but I needed to give you enough to get you through until next year :) enjoy these last little tidbits of all the fair fun and folks!  I promise to not talk about a fair for a while...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

the wilson co. fair: amusement

ah...the rides. I love amusement rides and roller coasters. In fact, the last 2 years I've gone to amusement parks for my it's only fitting I highlight some of the rides at the fair on my birthday!

nothing says, "FAIR!" like a good old fashion Ferris wheel:

personally...when it comes to spending money at the fair...I'd rather spend it on the food, but all the classic rides are tempting as well...

all in was a great day of amusement at the fair...and yes...there will be more pictures tomorrow :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

the wilson co. fair: fair food

This past weekend josh and I joined a few friends and headed out to the Wilson County Fair.  The Wilson Co. Fair is the largest in the state...I had never been (which was a shame) but boy am I glad I went this year! I love me a good fair...the food, the people, the "culture", the rides, the food...I really like fair food! What's not to love about ANYTHING fried?! seriously...anything!

i took loads of I'll be breaking it down into daily posts ...obviously, we are starting with the most important...the food!

food seen in order of apperance:
fried pickles, corn dog, taco in a bag/walkin' taco, snow cone, cheesecake on a stick, fried cookie dough, swirly fries, funnel cake, funnel cake flavors, pizza, bacon cheddar fries, fried oreos.