The Excellent Adventures of Kim and Kev

Friday, December 17, 2010

Cupcakes and Cookies

It is no secret that we have a little obsession with cupcakes. Well, I guess mine is more of a major obsession. But in general we prefer little bites of different kinds of food over a simple meal. It always makes things more fun.

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

The Birthday Dinner

Now before we get in to the Birthday Boy's dinner party - I feel like I need to give you an apology for LACK of pictures. I have been wanting a nice camera for SO long now. And when I received the camera my eyes glazed over with delight on the amazing food photos I would get before, during, and after the party.

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.

Obviously, I forgot to get the bread in the picture.

( Isn't that platter/serving dish perfect for bread and butter?)
And then the rest of the dinner was undocumented. And eaten quickly. It was a meal full of butter, cheese, bread, meat and wine. Just the way I imagine I would eat if I lived in France. So, thank goodness I don't live in France because I don't think my heart or my health could take such rich food every day. Even though I loved every bite of it.

The guest of honor with his family....

Jenn's ( Kev's sister) girlfriend, Rebecca was also in attendance. However, the picture did not turn out at all. But I just love this one because it is of the "Original" Snyders. Perfect.

I originally wanted this to be a "dressy" event. But then after re-evaluating Kev's wardrobe. And reminding myself that this was HIS party. I decided to compromise. It was the best I could do to get him to change his shirt when he got home from work. Kev's parents however, showed up dressed to the nines - which delighted me to no end. They said that it wasn't every day that they were invited to a dinner party - and whether that is true or not - it made me so happy that they played along with my vision for this "elegant" birthday dinner.
As for me... I united the group by dressing dressy/casual. Jeans with a sequined top and heels.

There were lots of laughs. Lots of great story telling. Lots of celebrating. Lots of love for Kev.
And we all hope that he had as great a time as we did! Because we love him SO much!
Happy Birthday Special K!
Up Next: Dessert

A Birthday, A Menu, and a Mustache

As most of you know, Kev had a birthday recently. A BIG birthday. He was born on December 7th, 1970 after all.

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....

Brie en Croute
First Course
Assorted fresh breads with flavored butters
( French herb, vanilla/pecan, and cheddar/chive)
Second Course
Pear, Goat cheese, and Walnut Salad
Third Course
Onion Soup with Gruyere Cheese
Main Course
Beef Short Ribs Braised in Cabernet
with Pasta, Pearl Onions, and Burgundy Mushrooms
Red Velvet Cupcakes
Lemon Cookies
Wedding Donuts
( The "wedding donuts" are actually wedding cookies which are Kev's all time fave cookie - but he likes to call them donuts because they are covered in powdered sugar)
I had this meal planned down to the second. What time every thing needed to be started. What oven would cook what. And was even able to fit in time for a workout. A workout that was a necessity if you read the menu. Just buying some of the ingredients required me to drop and give fifty push ups.
In the middle of The Fresh Market.
So, the table is set, the French mustache is in place, and the party is about to begin....
Up next: The Birthday Dinner

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Blustery Day

It is zero degrees outside. My lips are chapped. My hands are cracked. And my face is completely frozen in place. Kind of like getting free botox. Except for I don't look any younger.

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.

Blend it all up. And it is refreshing, delicious, and filling. Not to mention full of nutrients.

I feel as strong as Popeye right now.
And just in case you are worried about the taste. You can't even taste the spinach. AT ALL. It tastes like a banana milkshake. With a little Dr. Suess green added in for some fun.
Hope you are staying warm.......

Monday, December 6, 2010

A November Recap

First of all, I want to start off by letting you know that I am wearing a pair of "Mom" jeans. For fun. Not for fashion. And the reason is that I just did a MAJOR overhaul of my ridiculous closet and came across some (TONS OF) items that there was NO NEED for me to still be hanging on to.

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....

We all fit around the table this year. We had to eat with our hands tied behind our backs for fear of elbow bumping - but we still fit. And that is what counts.
We had Mom and Dad. Shan and Randy and kids. Bethany. And Kev and me.
It was as loud and fun and crazy as you would probably imagine.
And delicious.
We went to see Tangled after our meal. The Disney Rapunzel movie. And I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised!! It was a great movie - with a great story - and minimal singing. PERFECT! Kev even enjoyed it. And it was good to actually learn the story of Rapunzel - because all I've ever known was she was a girl with long hair in a tower.
There is much more to it than that!
And then we returned to my parent's house to celebrate the birthdays of me, Kev, Ashlynn, and Austin.
And eat dessert of course!
I had made a sugar free pumpkin-turtle pie. It was yummy and Kev LOVED it! He has requested it again.
And then I had to call it a night. Because a retail manager has no time for rest during the holidays... and the next day was our biggest day of the year.
But before I end this post... I have to show you a couple more pics. Pics that make me so happy to own a new camera....

I love the clarity. And the colors. And the detail. And once I learn to utilize EVERY button on the camera... I will be the happiest girl in the world.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Perfect Day - Part Two

I originally had NO plans for my birthday dinner. All I knew was that I didn't want to cook a big meal and I didn't want take-out.

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.

Homemade pizzas.

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..

Organic tomatoes....

And freshly cut organic pepperoni. Along with organic pizza sauce.
Oh, and mushrooms. Gourmet mushrooms.
And I am telling you now that it was the BEST pizza ever!! So amazing!! Kev meticulously stretched out and tossed the dough. And then we each chose toppings for our pizza and created away.
Just like old times. When I was a little (er... young) girl.
And these pics just don't do the pizzas justice....

We ate on these babies for THREE days. And every single time I giggled with happiness.
And my only regret is that I didn't buy more pizza dough. But I don't think it would be the same if I froze it... so, I will just have to wait until my next trip to Greenville. Which will hopefully be soon!
And then for dessert, we snacked on the most incredible treats EVER! ( And if you couldn't tell by now... I'm COMPLETELY obsessed with my new favorite stores. And yes, I am COMPLETELY obsessed with (good) food!!)
Sea Salt Caramels covered in dark chocolate. And a caramelized nut trio.....

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.
And for the record... I am happy to say that I have learned to eat in moderation. ( with the exception of Thanksgiving) I am happy with a bite of a treat. Or just two little pieces of chocolate... and then I am DONE.
And I'm sure that every one around me appreciates that! Especially my new skinny jeans!