Thursday, April 30, 2009


I'm tired. Nothing more to it. Just plain ole' tired. Course it goes without saying that our gray weather isn't helping either but enough with the excuses.

You'd naturally think, then, that I don't have a lot to say (possible but not probable - any statisticians out there?)... or better yet, how about a no-brainer, perfect for people who are tired, recipe. And even worse (watch as I throw myself under the bus)... I've made this before! Here, right before your eyes. I believe this may constitute the epitome of laziness.

HA! (laughing to myself) It's worse than I thought.

When I first introduced you to these yummy Celebration cookies, they were just that... cookies. Would you believe, though, that almost all cookie recipes are just as good, sometimes better (and 100 trillion times easier - that's a precise calculation), pressed into a 9x13 pan and extracted as bar cookies?

It does require the slightest bit of tweaking - cooking times, temps, whatnot - but nothing an amateur like me had any trouble with... so you are sure to master it in no time.

*Tweaks to original recipe:
- Spray, butter, choose your own adventure - just prepare your 9x13 baking dish to avoid any sticking
- Bake at 350 (usually 25 degrees less than your recipe calls for)
- Start with the baking time for the cookies, check them at the end of that time and adjust from there (these took just under 35 minutes)

Speaking of non-traditional cookies... if I mysteriously disappear from here one day, it'll be due to a delightful overdose on these.

Oh - I should mention that I did actually get these (and a few other treats) in the mail to my latest Baking GALS recipient... finally (and late, of course). But hey, that's something, right?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Far From It (and Okay With That)


Is admittedly still very fresh up in the old noggin.

But with all the news about swine flu, it's been a little (okay, a lot) easier to not miss the poolside drinks and the inevitable distance that being in Mexico placed between me and a little thing called work.

None of that has much to do with what we devoured this past weekend - I just wanted to share.

Crab Burgers (or Super Cute Crab Cake Appetizers) with Red-Pepper Dressing
*from Bon Appetit

Note: a 1/2 recipe was more than enough for small appetizer portions for 4 people but go ahead and make the whole recipe cause the other 1/2 is perfect for 2 entree-sized portions

Wrong again, Kara - I found a connection between these little beauties and Mexico, after all! I happily served the crab cakes on a cute new platter found (and fought for) on Shacks Fifth Avenue in Penasco. *yes, Mom, I bought a new platter - but this one is a different shape than all those others and it was a souvenir, read: once in a lifetime-can't-get-it-anywhere-else-on-the-planet-so-I-had-to-have-it

You all don't have to read this part - I just wanted to record it for posterity: I hereby proclaim the crab that went into these burgers were the best deal (certainly on 'premium seafood') that I've ever had the pleasure of paying for. The fresh crab meat was buy one, get one free and I also had a $1 off coupon. Best.find.ever.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Bursting Out All Over

Spring is here - and maybe even summer (heck, it was 90+ degrees today) although I prefer to think that we didn't just skip right over one of my favorite seasons.

So back to it...

Doesn't this nest that we found today doing some yardwork just scream "Spring" and "new life" to you!? Well, it does to me.

And you know what else it screams? "Weeds!!" And "LOTS more yardwork!". Both considerably less fun to say and even worse to think about.

I still love ya' spring, but could do without the side effects.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Come Sit With Me

While I'm on a roll driving away (the droves of) readers with my awkward eulogy to our ice cream maker... I thought there was no better time to toss in a post about the imminent NFL draft. (perfectly logical connection, don't you think?)

Really? Yes, really. And it's important, not to mention being way more interesting than when I babbled about the MLB All-Star game (although that's not saying much).

I think I've mentioned before about being proud to be a Deac - maybe just once or twice. There's no pre-tense here, so I'll say it right upfront... I'm going there again.

But, Kara, you said this is about the NFL draft... what's that got to do with Wake Forest? *for those of you who already know where I'm going with this, please pardon my elementary explanation - you may now proceed on with your day

GLAD you asked!

Type in "Wake Forest" and "NFL draft" into your preferred search engine now. Go ahead, I'll wait here.

I assume you got quite a few hits.

Perhaps one of them was this article about a certain Wake alum, showcased on the front page of USA Today's sports section... saying that it's "hard to find a flaw" in him and asking if he might just be the "draft's safest pick".

Or maybe this one... explaining that even though linebackers rarely go very high in the draft that our alum is such a "sure tackler and versatile player, able to flatten a running back behind the line of scrimmage on one play and drop into pass coverage with speed and agility on the next, that NFL coaches and front-office executives are plenty excited about him." Whatever that means... I know this: most analysts agree that our boy will be picked in the top 5 or 6 (no jinxing!!) tomorrow evening.

But please, whatever you do, don't stop reading just yet. Yes, we love our alum, are proud of him and his accomplishments on the field, and there's no doubt that the whole wide world of Deacons will be waiting with bated breath until his name is called tomorrow... but this article says it all, this is what it's all about.

Thank you, Aaron Curry, for making us proud to be a part of your (rather extended) family. It's true that we will be cheering you on with fervor tomorrow (and beyond) and that we want you to go as early as possible in the draft... but it's things like inviting this leukemia survivor to sit with you as you await the news that will surely change your (and your family's) life that make us truly beam with pride.

Sure, we aren't certain exactly how high you'll go in the draft or what city you'll call home as of tomorrow, but there is one thing I know... when you get there, tell your new team to get ready for a bunch of gold and black wearing fans.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Moving On

If you're here looking for those important things... come back later (and I mean that), pleeease! Great things like pictures of my 10-minutes of fame on a champion horse, me rambling about the upcoming NFL draft (I'm serious - see if you can guess why I actually care this year), or maybe even something worthwhile to do or think about, abound!

For the rest of you... here are the results of a foray into semi-unknown waters. Huh? Let's try that again... here is one of those tasties that I had mentioned.

"Pucker Up" Lemon Sorbet

zest of about 1 1/2 lemons (2 lemons makes it very pucker-y!)
2 c water
1 c sugar
1 c fresh lemon juice
1 c lemon-lime seltzer water
2 TBSP vodka

In a saucepan, stir together lemon zest, water and sugar. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium for about 5 minutes. Allow to cool.

Stir together the lemon syrup, lemon juice, seltzer water, and vodka (it's just for texture - thanks for the tip Andrea!). Pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions (it took me over 15 minutes to get to my desired consistency).

Immediately put in airtight containers and store in your freezer. The sorbet will continue to firm up.

We recently had some delicious grapefruit sorbet that motivated Chris to uh... motivate me to make this lemon sorbet. And with good reason. I believe this may vy for the top spot in our vigorous homemade ice cream battle... watch out peppermint!

Wait, though... why the tear? Not for joy!? Perhaps the tart lemony flavor got to me?

It saddens me to report that we laid a good friend to rest in the course of making this delicious sorbet (a good way to go, if you ask me). *RIP, ice cream maker! I had to do it - the blue antifreeze dripping out of your side just didn't taste right mixed in with any of our favorite flavors! (no one actually ate any - and after a brief chat with KitchenAid, they maintain that even if we had, we would have lived to tell about it)

With that behind us... I am ready to move on to greener pastures. But I won't go without another ice cream maker - so which one do you use??

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Worth the Wait

Hang on, folks. I've got a couple of (really important) things to say this week* - and, hopefully, maybe, at least one of them will 'taste good'.

*it has been brought to my attention that clarification is necessary after having made the above "(really important)" statement; I was referring simply to some things that I (and probably very few of you) find interesting

Just in case you were worried that I was a little distracted... no one, not even the now-distant memory of enjoying this beautiful drink...

Or this delicious plate of guacamole...

Or watching a friend devour these beef tacos acquired from a perfect little sidewalk cart in the middle (er... more like the coast) of Mexico...

Is going to stop me. Nothing.

Oh, and as for sharing those (really important) 'things'... it'll have to wait.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Hecho en Mexico

Yesterday, I did something that the first 29 years of my life had not yet seen - and it had everything to do with riding a champion dancing horse (I have witnesses and pictures to prove it for all of you naysayers... oooh horrible), even if only for a few, fleeting moments.

So while that may sound like kind of a big deal to most of you - the real "big deal" is this (not to be mistaken for little) gem.

Most of you probably need a formal introduction... so without further ado, I proudly present "el Jimador" (with Squirt - disclaimer: I have heard the red-can variation of this drink is far from tasty). What you have before you is the equivalent of a beer, only quite a bit less expensive - and a mixture of Squirt, el Jimador tequila, and some other magical ingredients.

Sadly, this picture is all I have left of our lingering relationship (started on my first trip to Penasco a number of years ago, and it was like we'd never been apart when we rendezvous-ed a few days ago) since as far as our research can tell, this delightful "margarita in a can" beverage is manufactured, canned, and sold only in Mexico.

The second we booked this trip to Puerto Penasco, I started dreaming about my lost love, el Jimador, and our reunion was nothing less than I'd imagined.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Baby Back

In the blink of an eye (give or take 8 hours), I went from never having made pork ribs and honestly being scared of them to being a fan for life... everlasting life.

The trick was my oh-so-helpful buddy slow cooker. I'm not surprised - after all, I can not count (I can - I swear, I graduated from college and everything - I said that for emphasis) all of the different kinds and cuts of meat that the slow cooker has transformed for me. Slow cooker, you've changed my life.

The ribs, though? We looooved them. (pronounced "Luu-u-u Ved") I'm not looking to alter this recipe at all... though that's not a solemn pledge that it won't happen... but if it does, it's only because I seem not to be able to do the same thing twice these days. I'm working on it, though.

Slow-Cooker Baby Back Ribs

2 lbs baby back ribs
dry rub (recipe follows)
jar of your favorite barbecue sauce

Dry Rub
3/4 tsp black pepper
3/4 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/3 c dark brown sugar
3/4 tsp ground oregano
1 TBSP paprika
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar

Combine rub ingredients; mix well. Rub on all sides of ribs. Place ribs upright, meaty side out in crockpot. Cover; cook on low for at least 7-8 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove from crockpot and place in a single layer on a baking sheet; liberally brush ribs with the barbecue sauce. Bake ribs for about 12 minutes or until the sauce looks "baked" (that's the only way I can describe it); turn ribs with tongs and liberally coat with sauce again. Finally, bake for another 5-7 minutes.

Monday, April 13, 2009

'Round Here...

Let's just pretend for a moment that you were planning to come to our great nation's capital... and you thought "wait justoneminute, Kara lives there and loves out of town (or any, for that matter) visitors" (let's just say).

So far, so good (I'm already thinking about what we will do and more importantly, eat, while you are here - when are you coming, by the way?)...

For your stay, I'm particularly excited about breakfast (we can talk later about the rest of our meals - maybe we'll hit our favorite Mexican spot for dinner??), after all, it is the most important meal of the day! The truth of the matter is I haven't gotten much farther in my meal planning than this coffee cake - it's that good, stopped me cold in my tracks.

Yes, this is for certain; we'll munch on Nicole's Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake with a delicious cup of freshly-brewed coffee. And the best part of it all... coffee cake = tasty goodness with a delicious, crunchy topping that you are allowed (dare I say 'encouraged'?) to eat for breakfast without feeling the slightest bit guilty!!

I hope we'll be able to restrain ourselves before your arrival; but... if, uh, we haven't, you now have the recipe to make when you get home and we'll share something savory instead.

Oh... pardon my manners - you would like to know where you'll sleep while you're here? I'm perfectly willing to share but only if you'll agree to help me.

Let's start with your bathroom - it's just at the top of the stairs. You'll find all the regular amenities... and from this vantage point, it's not so bad.

There are extra towels, rolls of toilet paper, and some fragrant lotions awaiting your arrival (me too!). And a whimsical cutesy valance!

From this side, though, the shower curtain's holding its own - but it needs a complementary friend in the bath mat. The current one was left over from my all blue and white bathroom in a previous life. Any ideas?

Next door you'll find a place to rest your head, and honestly, that's about all it is. If these blank, white walls don't scream help to you... well, you should clean your ears.

One reason I can stomach the purple duvet (besides the fact that it was free) is that it worked really well with some great enlarged pictures of Scandinavia that Christy and I took.

But, you can add this floor to the already long list of rooms needing an area rug.

I promise that that little painting above really feels much more "to scale" in the room than it looks in the picture... really.

And while I do feel like we've done a pretty darn good job with a room that used to be a lime green (admittedly a very cute little boy's room) along with using all hand-me-downs... there's got to be something that can be done!

I think this room is just begging for one or two more things (an accent pillow on the bed, something else on the walls or that aforementioned area rug?) to finish the look. I'm open to any and all suggestions.

I've said it before, I'm no interior decorator - just trying to do the best with what we've got... and what we've got is a lot of different styles thrown together (shhh... don't tell but that's become 'my' style!).

So will you still come and visit? I promise to (try and) make up for the less-than-homey guest room with tons and tons (and tons) of food (some of it might even be good).

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Long and Short of It

C'mon now - you knew (or maybe you didn't - I'm a confused cookie... did someone say cookie?) that one day I'd get around to using this for the title of one of my posts... being a dachshund (and not just any dachshund!) owner and all.

Back to those cookies... Annabelle was the lucky recipient of these adorable treats yesterday.

Sadly, one of them is already decapitated but done, of course, with the most care and loving concern a hungry dog can muster.

Are cute, decorated puppy cookies the next 'thing'? Good-bye cupcakes, hello Doggy Designs? Palatial Puppy Palates? Canine Confections? (am I onto something?)

Thanks, Sophie! By the way, exceptional wrapping job... love the paw-print baggie and ribbon!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Little Celebrations

Time passes, it's a fact. But I am absolutely 108% convinced that one of the great curses of getting older is that time speeds up exponentially faster with each passing year.

Is it possible that it's already been a year since we were celebrating this... (sorry Megan, this wasn't meant to be a teary reminder of how fast a year has passed - I just couldn't resist!)

As a mom, I imagine that seeing a precious picture of your baby as well, a baby (newborn, in this case), must evoke so many emotions. Luckily only one of those ever-speedy years has passed since this cutie was so little (and newborn-ish), but an important first year it was... deserving of a celebration.

And what better than cupcakes (kinda cute ones, at that) to help you forget how long it's been since those once-glorious, sleepless days and nights of having a newborn!

It goes without saying (but I will anyway) that I was a happy and willing participant in the celebration of Ashley's first birthday (that's a lie - I begged her mom to let me bake; thank you Megan for indulging me). And, a mere 3.8 seconds after seeing them on Bakerella's site, I knew a certain one-year old would soon be digging her hand into the depths of these very cupcakes.

Does that picture make you think of a field of flowers? (me neither, they are clearly cupcakes) I considered leaving some of the cupcakes 'bare' (as shown above) but in the end, I decided that just because parts of our yard are flower-less (some of our tulips got massacred by a hungry animal!) doesn't mean everyone at the birthday party shouldn't have their own yummy flower adorning their cake. (an important life lesson)

My only disappointment was the fact that Ashley didn't take much time to admire the pink flowers...

And she didn't even utter a thank you afterward (I'll need to talk to her parents about her manners) - but I'm fairly certain that somewhere behind the chocolatey mess on this adorable face is a little girl screaming "where has that been these past 365 days!!!!"

Happiest of 1st Birthdays to a darling little girl!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

I Didn't Even Know There was a Movie Called Stripes

It's not too often that I delve into the world of home decorating (and dare I call it "design"??) - at least not on here - for all the world to see (and comment and critique!). Generally, I'm too timid to open myself up for that kind of ridicule.

But (you knew that was coming!) there's one room in our house (okay, maybe two - but I'm doubtful that the second will ever make an appearance here) that I absolutely love - actually bordering on being proud of it.

*before I go farther, I must give all the design credit to my mom (sure, others have done this too - and probably even before her, but I got the idea from her and it's my blog so I get to give her the credit)... and then kudos to Chris for minimal complaining as he did the lion's share of work to make this possible

Onward! I now present the walls of our dining room!

This post is actually long overdue so we've been enjoying these beautiful walls and the subtle effects of the stripes for quite a while now and I have to say, it was worth every bit of the effort.

Speaking of that effort...

Yes... we measured out the walls of the entire room and taped (using a "laser-leveler", the technical term, obviously) at an even interval - painting every other strip. Thankfully our house is quaint (if you've ever house-hunted, you know seeing "quaint" in a listing means older and often with the added bonus of small rooms) so this process only took about 3 days, but knowing that we could have stopped with the initial coat of paint that took all of 2 hours to apply made this extra special.

This is one of the only rooms in our house that Chris routinely comments on and has even been heard saying that he thinks it looks "great" - so that alone should tell you that we love how it came out. I do recommend having a hearty supply of your husband's (or whoever you can lure in to help you) favorite beverages on hand - although staring at that sea of blue tape encasing the room made me feel like an animal at the zoo and I have always loved zoos...

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