Sunday, April 27, 2008

"Fancy Dessert at Kiki's??"

Sadly, there was nothing fancy about the dinner OR dessert that I whipped up for my favorite (okay, only) nephew's visit but it's not too hard to fool a 2.5 year old (though, admittedly, he did know that broccoli was NOT dessert!).

But it was a fun evening nonetheless... save for a quick passing-through-DC lunch with my brother, I hadn't seen Jacob, Charlie or Robyn (+ baby girl Wallace) since our wedding in early March. And, sadly enough, time just passes way too fast, especially with the little ones. Charlie is more active and enthusiastic (we'll call it) than ever... he seemed to enjoy the dessert of a slice of Cast-Iron Skillet chocolate chip cookie* and vanilla ice cream, topped with homemade hot fudge sauce.

*this is a fun version of your everyday chocolate chip cookie... just be SURE to add enough whipping cream and I'd recommend decreasing the cooking time to right around 30 mins

Despite hearing the words "Charlie, do we play with things that are fragile?!?" a little more than my heart could stand (the house is absolutely NOT kid-proofed at this point), how can you not love a little guy who still remembers your wedding and says his favorite part was "candy [that we had to bribe him with to put on his tux] and the party bus"?!

See you soon, Sophie, Nana, and Granddad!!! *sorry, Mom, you know Sophie's always first

Sunday, April 20, 2008

You Clean Up Well!

Yesterday was a rare occasion for some of us... a group that normally is wearing the faithful Old Gold & Black when we are together (and a softball mitt in tow), we shed the uniforms for a day (though not necessarily the gold & black thanks to a fitting color scheme) to celebrate the wedding of Maggie and Rookie.

What a fun and magical day for the happy couple! Their ceremony was held at Saint Stephen Martyr Church here in DC followed by a beautiful garden-like reception and night-long dance party at the historic Stephen Decatur House.

Having recently been through our own wedding (and planning process!), gave me a whole new appreciation while watching our friends taking in, and clearly loving, their own special day.

Thanks, Rook and Maggie, for such a fun day - we loved toasting to your future as husband and wife!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Pretty in Pink

Life is full of "best laid plans" - I continue to discover and re-discover that.

The arrival of precious Ashley Hurst was one of those... I should have known, however, as soon as Megan said "I don't think I'll make it until 4/12, but definitely not before this Saturday" that their beautiful daughter would arrive early.

But the show must go on! After convincing Megan that keeping with the original date (which would have been the same day the Hursts were scheduled to be released from the hospital, April 5) was not a good idea, Kristy and I quickly moved Megan's shower to this weekend.

We had so much fun planning and putting together Megan and Ashley's shower - I suppose that's what happens when two people who love entertaining, cooking, and babies get together.

Our initial idea of a diaper cake morphed into this cute wreath after we decided that the baby needed the diapers more than we needed a centerpiece. Diapers or not, we were still quite pleased with how our fun wreath turned out.

No party is complete without a cupcake stand, filled with tangy lemon cupcakes and lemon cream cheese frosting! I loved the little pacifier candies!

One of my personal favorites of the day were my mom's (go figure) Chocolate Mint Brownies.

Chocolate Mint Dessert Brownies

Cake Layer:
1 c flour
1 c sugar
1 TBPS vanilla
1/2 c margarine, softened
4 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1 16 oz. can Hershey's Chocolate Syrup

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9x13 pan. In mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, margarine, eggs, and syrup. Beat till smooth. Blend in vanilla and salt. Pour into pan and bake 25-30 minutes until top springs back. Cool completely in pan. Spread Mint Cream Center (below) on cake. Cover and chill. Pour Chocolate Topping (below) on chilled brownies and spread evenly. After refrigerating for approx 15 minutes, score the chocolate layer so that brownies are easy to cut once completely chilled. Chill at least one hour before serving.

Mint Cream Center:
2 c powdered sugar
1/2 c margarine, softened
1 TBSP milk
1 TBSP peppermint extract
3 drops food coloring (adjust to your liking)

Combine first four ingredients and beat till smooth. Add food coloring.

Chocolate Topping:
6 TBSP margarine
1 1/4 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

Melt together over low heat. Remove from heat and stir till smooth. Cool slightly and spread on chilled center layer.

These brownies are great - they freeze (in an air-tight container) extremely well and the mint cream center can be colored for whatever your occasion is!

For Ashley and her mom, pink was just right.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Losing It

Up until now, baking has always been my "thing" - friends have a dinner party, and they know I will bring some kind of tasty dessert (or maybe they were just nice and let me - all this time the joke's been on me!?! or so it feels right now).

Plus, I usually like to stretch - sure, I could just take another one of my mom's incredible recipes and try and make it as well as she does - it might not taste as good or look as pretty - but at least I know that at its heart, the recipe is a winner and should I be lucky enough to make it correctly, then I will come away with something great - but instead, my tendency as of late has been to pick some usually completely random (but delicious looking) recipe on a whim, and apparently that's not one of my strengths.

I can only figure that it's me, the baker... 100% without a doubt me. I tried to blame it on the new oven and then realized that that wasn't fair - I did recently make, go figure, my mom's mint brownies for a friend's baby shower and they turned out perfectly. But otherwise, is this a not-so-subtle way of telling me to lay off baking so I don't gain 100lbs?

Tonight, I'll say I 1/2 conquered this problem. Why only 1/2... because even though the recipe required the use of my KitchenAid, it was 1/2 comprised of a pre-made cookie mix. I'd received one of those great batter/measuring cups with the layered cookie mix as a shower gift and finally put it to use.

The result was, to my surprise (for no other reason than my last 3 weeks in the kitchen being utter failures) and pleasure, a delicious cookie, chock full of Craisins, white chocolate chips, oatmeal, and pecans (of which we will freeze half, to avoid the previously mentioned 100lbs) - and because of the cute batter bowl mix, the whole affair was quite easy!

I can't take credit for the whole process but I will tell you that I'll be making this cookie again, even without the pre-made mix!

Celebration Cookies
Yield: 3 dozen cookies

¾ cup (1½ sticks) butter or margarine, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 recipe Celebration Cookie Mix (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 375°F. In large bowl, combine butter, eggs and vanilla; mix until well blended. Add cookie mix to butter mixture; mix until well blended. Drop level scoops of dough (about 2 TBSP), 2 inches apart, onto greased baking sheet. (Flatten cookies slightly if so desired - creates a crispier cookie)

Bake 13-15 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Cool 5 minutes; remove to cooling rack.

Celebration Cookie Mix
½ c granulated sugar
¾ c sweetened-dried cranberries
½ c white chocolate morsels
¾ c packed brown sugar
1½ c all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 c quick or old-fashioned oats
½ c pecan halves, coarsely chopped

Two things, though: 1. PLEASE send me a link or a recipe for something deliciously unhealthy that you know is a winner... I am dying for new baked goods, and 2. ANY and all tips for baking in a gas oven... I'm not BLAMING my inadequate baking on the oven but I do think it's made a difference and for sure lengthened the baking time.

Friday, April 04, 2008


You just can't help it...

We THOUGHT our photographer (for our wedding) was going to be good... we'd heard great things, seen friends' albums that he'd shot and designed that we loved... but it's one of those things that you wonder, 'can he possibly make me look as good as all of those other people he's shot?' So until you see your OWN pictures, there's always some lingering doubt.

I stand corrected... it's official that Mike Moreland can shoot anyone or anything (I might try and get him to shoot a series of pictures of a dead bush sometime just to see what he comes up with) and make them look (or at least feel like they look like) a million dollars.

We are so thankful for his work and talent - his pictures speak for themself but he is a fantastic person to work with and truly enjoys his job... so without a doubt, if you're in the market for an amazing photographer, Mike Moreland is your man.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

BG Hurst!!*

No no no... that's not her name... though, you might be asking just what IS her name? For the moment, I like to refer to this beautiful little miracle of life as BG Hurst (though check back for updates once her parents decide to name her).

*4/4 UPDATE - this precious baby has been named! Ashley Grace Hurst!

All that nonsense about the baby's name aside... Brad and Megan Hurst became the proud parents of a precious little girl at approximately 10:29am this morning. She was just over a week early (and surprised us all!) but weighed in at a healthy 7 pounds 14 ounces and 20.5 inches long!

Mom, dad and baby are all doing really well (not surprisingly) - and being such the troopers to welcome casts of characters in to visit them and their newest bundle of joy. After anxiously waiting at work all day, I raced to the hospital this evening and spent some quality time with the new parents, new grandparents, and our littlest BG.

A couple of my personal observations after spending a few hours with the happy family - (a) Megan and Brad are going to be incredible parents, and (b) if you haven't had the opportunity to visit a friend in the hospital the day or two around when they just delivered their baby, you are seriously missing out!!

Congrats, Megan, Brad, and BG Hurst!

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