Friday, December 17, 2010
And that is why cupcakes are so perfect. You can have a little of this... a little of that. And you never feel overwhelmed by having to eat an entire cake.
Not that I've ever had to eat an entire cake. By force at least.
But the problem with cupcakes is that mine never seem to turn out. Unless I make them from a box. Funfetti style. My made from scratch cupcakes are usually dry. And since this event called for "moist made from scratch" cupcakes - I decided to let the experts do it.
I found this place online - by googling "cupcakes in Columbia". It is down town - a very nerve wracking and foreign area to me - until I realized that it was just a couple doors down from where we celebrated the night away after Dave and Laura's wedding.
And then I asked the birthday boy what his favorite cake was. And he said red velvet. And I was just as surprised as you are. Because #1 I have NEVER made red velvet - and I try really hard to always make his favorites. And #2 I've only seen him eat red velvet one time. And #3 I thought it was carrot because that is what I made him the year before.
Regardless, Red Velvet Cupcakes it was. And it was even better that they made them in a mini cupcake size.
The store is too cute for words. Kind of like a store from my dreams. Pink and vintage and full of cupcakes. And the amount of flavors to choose from - well, it just blows my mind. I am actually relieved that I live quite far from this place and very rarely go down town. Because I just might get lost in the store and would never be seen again.
And then there are the cupcakes. OUT.OF.THIS.WORLD! They were absolutely perfect. And we ( me and Kev) are very picky frosting eaters. We don't like it too sweet or that yucky stale taste - and so far Publix ranks as our number one bakery for frosting. Well, the frosting was delicious and light and wonderful.
We LOVED these cupcakes!
And so, of course, I had to set up a dessert table. Complete with photo albums of Kev's youth and one of my favorite pictures of him and the tower of cupcakes....
I also - per request- made his favorite cookie. I call them wedding cookies ( pecan cookie rolled in powdered sugar). He calls them donuts. Because he just does. But this time I think I finally perfected the recipe. Some times they are too crumbly and I have worked and worked on this recipe. I only use the BEST ingredients. Top quality butter. And I make the dough a day in advance so it has time to "mesh". And then I purchased some vanilla bean PASTE instead of extract. Good grief- that stuff smells so good and makes food taste delicious. And this time around the cookies were like morsels of heaven.
And now that I just jinxed myself in to ever having a good batch again - I will go scratch them off of my Christmas cookie list.
And just in case you were wondering - Kev ate leftovers from this meal for about FIVE days! I went back to healthier food - but he was a trooper and kept it interesting my mixing up different meals with all the components. I also ended up taking some of the cupcakes to work - I had ordered 30 of them after all. But the "donuts" - well, he cherished those. He wouldn't part with a single one.
And he finished them off just in time for me to make some more.
I can't believe the birthday is over. I'm sure that every one around me is thrilled because it is all I have talked about for MONTHS. I had SO much fun with every aspect - and am already looking forward to the next one.
And am currently trying to make up events that I need to purchase cupcakes for.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
I mean - I actually envisioned so many awesome shots. Pictures that would make you hungry.
But then I got in the moment. And didn't take pics while I was preparing the food because I was afraid I would get the camera dirty. And then didn't take pics while serving the food because - well, I was busy serving food. And then I realized it all when it was too late. Kev offered to take pictures of the leftovers - but it just wouldn't be the same. So, unfortunately, you will just have to imagine.
But just know that I was very happy with the results.
The birthday dinner started with the appetizers. This was my first time making Brie en Croute ( wrapped in a pastry) And actually this was my first time making ANY of the menu items. I did not do a test run.
I just made a wish on a random eyelash ( which may or may not have been mine). And hoped for the best.
So, the Brie turned out just fine. Even though the picture makes it look like a piece of leather.
I put cranberries and almonds inside of the pastry - along with the cheese. It was melty and yummy and has already been requested for our Christmas Eve party.
And then we moved on to the breads. I purchased some fresh bread from... The Fresh Market. I got three loaves - sourdough, nine grain, and rosemary sea salt. And then made the flavored butters to go with them.
Which means he turned 40.
And even though Kev would have preferred to sweep this birthday under the rug - I couldn't let it go without some sort of celebration. So, after throwing out multiple ideas and trying to figure out what things would and would not get me thrown in time out - I came up with a elegant dinner party idea.
As elegant as any one that lives in Gaston can get.
And not only did I plan a dinner. But I planned French cuisine. Because I wanted to challenge myself, pay homage to one of my inspirations - Julia Child, and to attempt to recreate one of the best meals that I have ever had in my life - In Epcot at Le Chefs de France.
It sounds a little that I was doing this dinner for me. And believe me when I tell you that I had an incredible amount of fun planning, preparing, eating, and celebrating.
Almost too much fun for someone who WASN'T celebrating her birthday.
But this dinner was for my sweetheart. My true love. And nothing gives me more joy than to prepare a meal for some one that I love. My goal was to give Kev the best possible celebration without him ever having to leave the house.
And so the menu was created....
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
But today I decided to make the most of it. It would do me no good to stay bundled up on the couch listening to Hawaiian Luau music and sniffing a container of pool chlorine. ( I like the smell. It reminds me of going swimming at the YMCA when I was young)
So, I got bundled up - the best a Southern girl can - and hit the streets.
And made the most of this winter day.
I participated in an intense spin class. Nothin' better to get you warmed up.
I purchased my LAST Christmas gift. Hallelujah! I am done!
I got all the groceries needed for my Christmas Eve party and Christmas Day dinner.
And now I am home. Feeling accomplished. And smelly. Frozen sweat is still sweat after all.
I'm planning to start my baking tonight. And some present wrapping. And, if you are lucky, I'm going to try to get caught up on blogging. And let you know what has been keeping me busy over the last two weeks.
But first, I have to share with you this incredibly yummy/healthy drink. They call it the "green monster". And "they" are the people that I call my internet friends.
It is one cup of skim milk. One banana. And two huge handfuls of spinach leaves.
Monday, December 6, 2010
It was the hoarder in me. The key word being "was" because after watching the multiple documentaries on TLC, I can't handle the clutter anymore. I even found a small baggie of diet pills. Yes, I said diet pills. That I was hiding in my sock drawer because Kev didn't want me to be taking them.
How crazy is that!? I have NO idea how old they are because I haven't taken diet pills since I was a baby. Meaning - my early thirties. But I felt the need to hide them. Like an addict. But clearly forgot I even put them there. Which shows how dedicated I was to losing weight. And also, how my mind is definitely not what it used to be.
It's pretty sad, really. And embarrassing.
I realize that I haven't posted much lately. And I listed out all the posts I wanted to do to get you caught up on my life. And then decided it would be better to combine a couple of them in to one. For time management. And your sanity.
So - here goes. With the Thanksgiving extravaganza recap.
As I'm sure you realize - I work A LOT during the holidays. It is the career I have chosen and some thing that I am very used to. But family doesn't slow down for a retail manager. So, while every one else is getting entire weeks off and plenty of rest - I am working my tail off in hopes of having "the best season ever". And it is exhausting.
I decided to make the most of this holiday season. And Plan. Plan. Plan. I really got the planning thing down to the minute. And therefore hoped it would go off without a hitch. I was able to take Tuesday off - to get all of the food prepared and my head on straight for the upcoming weekend.
I cooked the entire day. 7 side dishes. 1 main dish. 1 dessert. 1 appetizer. And a HUGE pot of chili for supper so Kev would have something to eat off of for the rest of the week while I was working.
And then I received a delivery from UPS at 5pm. Which I have to admit that I was getting pretty annoyed that it was taking them so long to deliver this "special" package that required my signature. ( UPS had asked for some one to be at my house from 8am-7pm to sign for a delivery) ( Who on Earth has the time to wait at their house for that much time!!!) ( I was pretty annoyed about it) ( And he finally came at 5!!)
So, then I rushed out of the house to purchase my last "special" ingredients from Fresh Market AND deliver the majority of the food so I wouldn't have to worry about it on Thursday.
Not realizing that the package that had me so frustrated was a surprise for me!!
Because ( as you have probably figured out by now due to my "perfect day" post) once I returned home, Kev had the SURPRISE all set up for me.
Like a million times over. He surprised me alright and AS USUAL did an amazing job!! Canon Rebel SLR with an extra flash and extra lens for TAKING PICTURES OF FOOD!!!
The camera and Kev are my dreams come true!
I am SO in love with this camera. And was able to get some pretty good pics of Thanksgiving festivities. And the pictures are without me having any training. Just great shots of me pointing and shooting.
This camera is my soul mate.
Anyway, I worked ALL day on Wednesday. Got home at 10:45PM. Watched a movie with our guests ( Bethany, Michael, and Ashlynn) and then crashed.
Thanksgiving morning was spent watching the parade and making my last two dishes. Bobby Flay's pomegranate brussel sprouts with vanilla bean walnut butter AND my vegetarian dressing. (Made specially for Bethany even though she is the pickiest eater in the world and she didn't eat a bite of it. No worries, though. Because me and Kev LOVE LOVE LOVE it and we ate on it for a couple of days.)
Our first Thanksgiving is with Kev's family. At our cousin Krystal's home. She prepares so much incredible food that it should be considered a crime! And let me just reiterate that I LOVE to try new things - so, I was all about the delicious sweet potato balls - rolled in coconut- with a marshmallow surprise in the middle- a Paula Deen recipe. And they did not disappoint. So yummy!
And then there was this..... A gingerbread/pumpkin trifle. Too gorgeous to eat. Even though I ate a bowl. And these two characters sat patiently with forks in hand waiting for Krystal to dish it up....
Ashlynn and Mike are regulars at the Snyder Thanksgiving. They have grown up going with us and it wouldn't be the same without them.
Kev with his beautiful Mother...
We all ate SO much. And had ANOTHER Thanksgiving an HOUR later!
These are the times you wish you had a flushing mechanism on your stomach so you could cleanse and re-eat.
I have a lot of those times.
Not to mention that I was wearing Spanx AND an elastic black belt around my waist.
I would have paid a million dollars for a stomach flushing mechanism at this point. It may have been in Monopoly money - but it still would have been a million.
So, Kev drove to my parent's house while we ran along side the car. To try and sweat it out.
It didn't work. But we were dedicated to this day. And were willing to stuff our faces again. Even though Kev had to give me a pep talk because he was worried I would make myself sick. I have been eating HALF of what I used to eat - so, my tummy was not prepared for this feast.
And then we arrived at the most decorated house in town! And I am not even joking! I have never seen so many Thanksgiving decorations in one place... and my camera over heated at the thought of me taking pictures of all of them.
But I did get a couple....
Sunday, December 5, 2010
And to be honest... I thought my hike would take up the majority of my day and had no idea when I would be home.
But due to a change of plans, I found myself coming up with a GREAT idea once I saw what Whole Foods had to offer me.
It doesn't get any better than that.
Not only is pizza my favorite food of all time. BUT when I was a kid, my Mom used to throw me slumber party birthdays where "make your own pizza" was the theme of the meal. And you bet your bottom dollar that it was delightful!
So, I decided to recreate the party. With just me and Kev.
And luckily, he was just as excited about it as I was. He used to make pizzas for a living, you know.
You see, I have read stories for about a year now that said how Whole Foods has the BEST pizza dough. THE BEST! And they not only have regular - they have whole wheat.
And I found it right away. Along with fresh mozzarella balls, organic green peppers, onions..
I felt as if the wool over my eyes has been lifted to a new way of eating. And I've completely RE-discovered chocolate and how much I love it in DARK. With salt. And caramel. These tasty delights had ROCKS of salt on the top. I cannot even tell you with words how delicious these are. I would have to show you with hand gestures and facial expressions. They are just that good. And then there are the nuts.... I've always been a fan. But when they are organic and covered in cinnamon and sea salt, it just makes me even that much happier.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
So, as you can imagine, my day is usually pretty low key. I usually work. Or hide away in my bathtub until all the bubbles disappear.
But this year... well, this year was different. I decided during one of my long run/walks that I wanted to jazz things up a bit. By braving a hike. By myself. In a far away place. A place that I had to drive a very long way to. Like Cleveland, SC. Home of Caesar's Head State Park and the infamous Raven Cliff Falls.
And so the plan was made. And I kept it a secret. Until Thanksgiving. The way I see things is that if I had mentioned it sooner... voices would have gotten in my head trying to talk me out of it. Or I would have changed my mind. But I was determined. Determined to do something independent and exciting and dirty.
So, I woke up at 5:30 am. And dressed in my stealth/super hero/hiking gear. Which consisted of black leggings, black socks, black long sleeve shirt under a black short sleeve shirt, a black hat, black gloves, and a blue over sized rain jacket.
And the rain jacket was due to the fact that suddenly it decided to rain. On my birthday of all days. On the day that I was planning my big adventure. And I knew this going in to it. Because we had looked at the weather the night before and saw 100% precipitation every hour until 3pm when the lightening started and all heck would break loose.
But that couldn't stop me. I was determined, you see. And there was NO way that I could stay at home and then wonder all day if the rain really wasn't so bad and I missed out on an adventure.
So, at 6am I was on the road. To Panera and Starbucks for my favorite "to go" breakfast.
A venti iced black coffee ( straight up - no sweeteners) and a cranberry/walnut bagel.
And just a side note for you Panera fans - they have this new member card that you scan every time you go in - and I guess because it was my birthday... I was given the option to get a FREE bakery item ( but NOT a bagel) and a free smoothie ( but NOT a coffee). But the good thing about it is that I can claim these free items up until January 11th. So, that way I got my special favorite breakfast and didn't lose out on the free.
And then I arrived at my destination. Raven Cliff Falls. I jumped out of the car. Grabbed my hiking registration. Jumped back in the car - SOAKING WET. And preceded to wait it out. There was no one in sight. No one was at the ranger's office. No one at the welcome center. It was a ghost town on the mountain.
Now, I want to clarify that I am NOT a chocolate fan. I would choose fruit or caramel over chocolate any day. But something about the sea salt ( huge fan!) and dark chocolate ( considered a health food) mixed together had me intrigued.
Whole Foods Market. UM. Where have you been all my life? My eyeballs popped out of my head and jumped in to the hot foods bar. This is my new Disney World. Not to mention that when I walked in they were playing one of my FAVORITE songs of all times. A song that I have never heard on the radio - and only know of it because- for one month only-it was played over and over at work. I even made up a dance routine to it. It is just that sweet.
Great Harvest Bread Company. And the NICEST man EVER told me all about their breads and how healthy they are. How they make every thing from scratch every day. I had been researching this place and knew exactly what I wanted to get. But the man working there ( I believe he was the owner) made me want to buy fifty loaves of bread and work for him part time with NO pay. He was just that nice and helpful. And insisted on me taking a sample slice of bread with me for my lunch. I chose cheddar/garlic bread. And I swear to you that it literally melted in my mouth. It was DIVINE!
It is high protein/low carb bread with walnuts and pumpkin seeds and a million other healthy delicious things in it.
And then quickly put them away before Kev got home. ( When they are dispersed among the other food in the pantry - it doesn't look like so much)
And it is probably pointless for me to say this....but THE CHEESE BALL WAS THE BEST I'VE EVER TASTED!! Just like every thing else I tried that day.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
It is important for my sanity.
And I don't think we could have gotten any luckier on the weather situation. It has been absolutely gorgeous. In fact, I will go ahead and say that the weather was perfection.
And I don't go around throwing out that word a lot. When it comes to weather.
Our weekend started off with the building of a fire. And a fire is one of my most favorite things in the whole entire world. In the fire place, of course. Or outside as a campfire.
I'm not crazy or anything.
I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE the sounds, the warmth, the beauty, and the smell. In fact, rumor has it that Bath and Body Works has finally answered my prayers and has created a candle with the campfire smell.
I am beside myself with delight. And must acquire a coupon in order to buy one this week.
Anyway, Kev sure knows how to make me a happy girl. Build me a fire and I will do ANYTHING you want. As long as it involves sitting on the couch, enjoying the fire, and eating a good meal.
I loved every single second of the warm, crackling fire. I even got down on the floor. Right in front of it. And stretched out as close as I could possibly get without my Dad ( Kev) telling me that I needed to back up and be careful.
Saturday, was filled with working on projects. Like cleaning out the garage. Cleaning out my closet. And working on a special project that I am devoting an entire post to - just because I think it is so darn cool.
I also managed to throw a little gym time in. I am down to blowing my nose only a couple times a day - instead of minutes, and managed to take two classes in a row. It felt really good at the time - even though I am super sore right now as I am typing this. I also think that I learned how to kill someone with my bare hands. Who knew that the combat class could get so intense. ?? I felt like I was fighting for my life.
Saturday night ended up back in the Lodge room. For another fire.
But this time, we decided to eat supper in there. While we watched the USC game. On our special Gamecock tv trays that we got for Christmas last year....
My supper plan for the night was to recreate "the Lobster Roll" from the Food and Wine Festival at Epcot. You know, one of my favorite things. Except for that Lobster is EXPENSIVE. Like insanely. So, after I spent way too much time trying to find fresh lobster - that wasn't gator meat- that was already pulled off of the shell.... the "seafood" guy told me to buy a can of Lobster. On the canned meat aisle. It was the size of a small tuna can. And cost a million dollars. So, I only bought one and stressed over how I was going to make a decent meal out of a smidge of meat.
But then Kev suggested I get some crab meat and mix it with the lobster. And I jumped up and down and kissed his sweet head and told him that I owed him my first born child and bought a lot of crab meat.
And it worked perfectly. Along with onions, celery, green pepper, tarragon, salt and pepper, dijon mustard, and LIGHT mayo...
The flavors were incredible! I toasted some whole wheat buns and added some romaine lettuce. And squealed OUT LOUD with every bite.
Oh. And I made some home made potato chips to go along with it. They are baked in olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Even though I do sound like Darth Vader. For any of you geeks out there.
So, I thought since I haven't been up to much.... I would just catch you up on my thoughts and experiences from the past week.
1. I FINALLY grew out my nails. I have been biting my nails since Spring of 1972 ( yes, that means it was when I was in the womb) and have NEVER been able to break the habit. But I finally did. And I like to paint them a dark shade of purple. It makes me feel a little rock and roll. And up to no good. Except for this whole "blowing my nose every second of the day" made me realize that nails are sharp and they can hurt you and the inside of your nose. Not to mention that I am the opposite of calm and dainty - so, I tend to scratch people just by walking by them. That means that - FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER- I actually trimmed my nails with something other than my teeth. And filed them down. I can now type, text, and stick my finger in my eye without horrible consequences.
2. McDonalds is offering FIFTY chicken mcnuggets for $9.99!!! Why aren't more people talking about this. I don't understand. Chicken McNuggets are only my FAVORITE chicken nuggets OF ALL TIME. I rarely eat at McD's - but when I do, the nuggets is what I get. With no sauce. I like them plain jane. They are a true comfort food. And now that I think about it - I only eat them when I am on the road travelling. They make virtually no mess in the car - unlike the nachos and pizza that I attempted to eat while driving with my knees. Not good. Not good at all.
But my point is that if I was not trying to eat healthy - I would be buying a platter every single day. I would have nugget eating contests. And would create an entire festival around it. With potato sack races and every thing.
3. I made my first spaghetti squash.
I cut it in half. And roasted it.
And scooped out the insides. It looked just like spaghetti noodles. Just like the book said.
And then served it with steak, fresh tomatoes, and feta cheese.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
I'm at home sick today. I should really stop saying that I never get sick - because it seems I have some kind of something pretty often these days. Normally I would be fast asleep in bed trying to sleep my crud away.... but today we have a guy at the house working on stuff. Which means I have to look some what presentable ( thank you ball cap) and have to be sitting up on the couch ready to answer any questions he might have.
On top of my lack of energy and motivation, I have a list a mile long of things I needed to get done today. Like cleaning, laundry, painting, and working out. So, instead of doing any thing productive mostly because I am stuck to the couch, I decided to catch up on the blog. And I did manage to throw some yummy, healthy ingredients in to the crock pot for a pineapple soy sauce chicken dinner.
That should count for something.
Anyway, On Sunday, October 31st, we not only celebrated Halloween... but we celebrated the FOURTH year of owning our dream home/money pit. It is a pretty big day for us. Even though last year I was MIA due to my trip to Disney World. ( Kev never seemed to notice) This year I had all sorts of things planned. And wanted to make it extra special.
So, we started out our celebratory weekend by having a pumpkin carving contest. There are always two winners.... lucky for us. That way there is no fighting.
Kev just LOVES weapons and produce. It was almost too much for him to handle without breathing in to a paper bag.
And as a Snyder first, we decided to roast the seeds. I just sprinkled some Lawry's seasoning salt on them and tossed them in a bit of olive oil.
Now, I figure that the above picture deserves a little explanation. I carved the Mexican singer on top. And won the award for the "best carving of a pumpkin to resemble your favorite type of food". Kev carved the bottom one. And won the award for the "best reenactment of a Geico commercial". Get it? It is the "weeee weeee weeee all the home" pig. Complete with pinwheels.
We loved it all. And ate WAY TOO MUCH! I mean, I was really feeling "food and wine festival full" that night. Which isn't a great thing. Unless you love the feeling of your stomach ripping away from your insides and catching on fire.