Category Archives: Events/Special Occasions

Thanksgiving Desserts

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This year, I made three desserts to take to my in law’s house for Thanksgiving: lemon cake, chocolate pie, and apple pie.¬† I am especially excited about the apple pie because it was my first one! It was so easy, I don’t know what took me so long. But I have to admit that I planned to make the crust from scratch and ended up using a Pillsbury crust… so I still need to conquer that goal!

Lemon Cake

I usually make this lemon cake in a bundt pan and top it with glaze but I wanted to decorate it for the holiday so I used Wilton’s decorator frosting. My plan was to make a really big turkey that took up the top half of the cake but I realized that I didn’t have enough frosting so I settled for a small one in the middle of the cake. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted but I was satisfied with my first attempt at drawing a turkey on a cake. ūüôā

Chocolate Pie

This is literally the easiest pie ever. Three filling ingredients: chocolate pudding mix (1 large box), milk ( 2 cups), and whipped cream (1 cup).  Whisk them together and throw them into a large graham cracker crust and top with more whipped cream.  Set in the refridgerator for a at least a few hours.  I made this a couple years ago for Thanksgiving and everyone liked it so my mother in law asked me to make it again.

Apple Pie

I did a lot of searching for the perfect apple pie recipe.¬† My mom is the queen of pies.¬† So, when she suggested this Paula Deen recipe, I stopped looking for one.¬†¬†It calls for a¬†crumb topping but I didn’t make it. Instead I brushed the top with milk and sprinkled sugar over it, which is what my mom does. It came out beautifully! It browned nicely and was done in about 55 minutes.

Ingredients

  • two 9 inch pie crusts
  • 3/4 cup sugar (I used 1 1/4 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Dash salt
  • 3 1/2 cups peeled, chopped cooking apples (I used Granny Smith and Fuji apples)¬†
  • 1 (16-ounce) jar applesauce (I used chunky applesauce)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons butter, chopped into small pieces

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Line a 9-inch pie pan with half of dough. Combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. Stir in the apples, applesauce, and lemon juice. Spoon the apple mixture into pie pan and dot with butter. Cut remaining crust into strips; arrange in a lattice design over top of pie. Brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar. 

Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees F and continue to bake for about 45 minutes, or until crust and topping are golden brown.

From: Food Network

Girl’s Night In

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Here are a few pics from my girls only get together. It was a Sex and the City pajama party. It was nice to kick the boys out for the night for some girl time!

We had cosmos, flirtinis, champagne and wine. Everyone brought an appetizer, snack or dessert and we ended up with a variety of foods- and a lot of it! I regret not taking pics the way I normally do! I only have pics of the food that I made and took before the party.

I made shrimp cups that were inspired by this recipe. I baked wontons in a mini muffin pan and filled them with salad shrimp seasoned with Garlic and Herb Old Bay and cumin, fresh salsa, shredded cheddar cheese.

 I also made mini chocolate cupcakes.

 And here are the red velvet cake balls that no one saw!

I¬†didn’t have enough¬†white chocolate, they were a mess and they didn’t set in time for the party. But Scott¬†ate them the next day and said they tasted great. Oh well. Maybe next time!¬†

I can’t wait to plan my next event!

Dining in Destin

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We’ve just returned from a family vacation in Destin, Florida.¬† It was a beautiful, fun and relaxing trip.¬† We spent hours on the beach and at the pool.¬† We went on a dolphin cruise and visited the Big Kahuna waterpark. We took nice walks along the harbor and in shopping areas. BUT, this is a food blog so I’ll stick to talking about food! Since we stayed in a condo with a full kitchen, we decided to eat breakfast and lunch there.¬† And the first night, we ate dinner at home as well because we were in a rush to eat and get in the pool.¬† So, we ate three dinners out and breakfast on our last day.¬† Our at-home meals were¬†pretty healthy so I didn’t worry too much about what we ate when we were out.¬† Here are some highlights of our visits to a few local restaurants.

Pompano Joe’s

 

Pompano Joe’s¬†is one of Destin’s most popular seafood restaurants.¬† They offer a variety of grilled, broiled and fried seafood with several Carribbean inspired options.¬† It was at the top of my list of places to go.¬† When we arrived, there were a ton of people standing around outside so we knew there would be a wait.¬† When we put our name on the list, the estimated wait time was an hour and fifteen minutes to an hour and forty five minutes! What did we do? We waited. Those who know me well enough know that at home this would never happen. But, I guess vacation makes me more tolerant.¬† We’d gotten there early and weren’t even hungry yet…. plus, this place is right on the beach so you can’t complain about that.¬†We headed out back to the beachside bar and I ordered a margarita. We walked around the beach.¬† What else could we do to pass the time? Take pictures, of course!

 

 As it turned out, we only waited an hour so I was happy.  This was the view from our table:

Pretty perfect, huh?

We ordered two appetizers- Voodoo (jerk flavored) shrimp and voodoo chicken wings.¬† Scott ordered the “P.J.’s Platter” which included fried shrimp, oysters, fish and scallops. I ordered fried scallops and the kids ordered popcorn shrimp and chicken fingers.¬† Austin had beans and rice and the rest of us had baked potatoes and mixed vegetables.¬† We loved everything!¬† I really loved the shrimp and wished we had more of it.¬† I’d never had fried scallops before and I think I picked a great time to try them!¬† They were flavorful and crispy.¬† They gave me a ton of them!¬† We found all of the portions to be huge.¬† Scott said he could have gotten full off of Austin’s kids’¬†meal.¬† I snapped a quick picture of the appetizers but by the time our entrees came we were so I excited that I didn’t even think about it.¬†

So, my overall review of this place is very good.  The food was great, the atmosphere is fun and the view is beautiful.  The service was good, too.  We had a really nice waitress who took good care of us.  When we go back to Destin, we will definitely eat here again.

 

The Back Porch

The Back Porch was recommended by several people- some of Scott’s co-workers raved about it as did some ladies from my cooking board.¬† It was right behind the condo we stayed in so we saw it as soon as we got there and agreed to check it out.¬† We were advised to get there early so we got there around 5:30 which was just in time because¬†very soon after that the place was packed.¬† I imagine the wait was pretty long.¬† The atmosphere here is great- it opens to the beach¬†so you have a great view.¬†

I am sad to say that we did not enjoy the food as much as we thought we would.¬† We¬†started with¬†popcorn shrimp and calamari appetizers.¬† They didn’t get us too excited.¬† The popcorn shrimp was ordinary and Scott is getting hard to please when it comes to calamari.¬† He orders it a lot and there are a few places in Atlanta that have amazing calamari so his standard is getting pretty high.¬† For dinner, I ordered Hibachi chicken with corn on the cob and rice pilaf and Scott ordered a shrimp sandwich with fries.¬†¬†The chicken was good but I hated the rice.¬† The kids ate my corn because they didn’t want the fries that came with their kids’ meals.¬† Scott wasn’t too impressed with his sandwich.¬† The bright side was that the kids loved their food and ate it all. They ordered the usual- popcorn shrimp and chicken tenders.¬† We were thrilled to see them eat so well.¬† And their food was served in souvenir frisbees which came in handy on the beach¬†the next day.¬†

We’re not¬†entirely sure why we didn’t love this place as much as everyone else¬†does.¬† We decided that we must have just ordered the wrong things.¬† Maybe they have¬†certain dishes that are great while¬†the rest are just okay.¬†¬†Normally, I’d¬†blame myself for ordering chicken at a seafood restaurant but the chicken wasn’t¬†actually bad whereas the¬†popcorn shrimp was almost disappointing.¬† I don’t regret checking it out but when we walked past all the people waiting for tables on our way out, I was really glad that we’d gotten there early and been seated right away.¬† It wasn’t the worst meal in the world.¬† It just didn’t live up to our expectations and wouldn’t have been worth the long wait.

Here’s another pic that I took from our balcony.¬†

 

McGuire’s Irish Pub

McGuire’s Irish Pub¬†is listed as the #1 rated restaurant¬†on Trip Advisor.¬† At first, I had no plans to go there but when Scott wanted to go to a non-seafood restaurant, I looked into it.¬† The reviews sounded really good so we decided to give it a try.¬† People rave about their steaks, extensive burger menu, their fresh seafood, their drinks and much more.¬† I am so glad we decided to eat there.¬† The food was amazing!

When we first arrived, we were slightly in awe of all the dollar bills that are hanging from the ceiling, stapled to the walls, even attached to ceiling fans.¬†There is some story about the first dollar tip being put up behind the bar years ago and how patrons started leaving a signed dollar for good luck.¬† The tradition stuck and now there are dollar bills everywhere.¬†¬† It certaintly isn’t the classiest look but it was sort of mind boggling to know that there was over half a million dollars in $1 bills in that place!¬†

I ordered a margarita and a few minutes later, the waitress arrived with two of them, saying that they were running a two for one special.¬† This was a very pleasant surprise.¬† And the margaritas were good!¬† McGuire’s brews their own root beer and beer.¬† Scott tried the root beer and loved it.¬†

The food that followed was wonderful.¬† I ordered cedar plank free range Galway salmon and Scott ate grilled lamb chops with old fashioned mint jelly.¬† We had salads and potatoes as well.¬† We were both very happy! The salmon was seasoned in a Black Mustard Irish Whiskey glaze. It was so good. The lamb chops were huge and afterwards Scott said they were actually too big but they tasted great.¬† By the end we were so full! I could barely see straight.¬† We were determined to eat everything because it was our last night.¬† Somehow, we did it!¬† The kids both ate cheese pizza which came with fries, an orange slice and a rice krispy treat.¬† Shania didn’t care for her pizza much (it was on really thick bread, not pizza crust) but she still ate it.¬† She attempted to eat brownie pie a la mode for dessert. The lighting was awful but I tried to take a few pics.

Donut Hole

This was the place that MrsSchoon (from What’s Cooking) told me I had to visit.¬† She said they had an extensive menu that goes way beyond doughnuts. The morning after we arrived we saw it on our way to the harbor¬†and I said, “There it is!¬†The Donut Hole!”¬† We decided to eat breakfast there on our last day but we passed it several times while we were there and each time, I pointed it out.¬† Finally Shania was like, “Will someone please get this girl some doughnuts?!” LOL. She didn’t realize it was a restaurant, too.¬† So, it became a joke during the whole trip about how¬†I was so obsessed with the Donut Hole.¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†

On Saturday, Scott and Shania were so excited for me- I could finally GO to the Donut Hole and not point at it.¬† We went there around 10:00 and I was worried about how crowded it might be.¬† There were a lot of people¬†lined up¬†outside.¬† Some were just buying doughnuts and leaving, but many were there for breakfast, too.¬† Surprisingly, it didn’t take long to get a table though- maybe 15-20 minutes.¬†

This place does have SO much more than doughnuts.¬† At first, the smell of the cinnamon and sugar made me just want sweets but once I saw the menu I was ready for some food.¬† It was the best restaurant breakfast I’d had in a long, long time.¬† I ate a belgian waffle and home fried potatoes.¬† I wanted to order more but I knew that would fill me up and I was right.¬† Scott ate chopped steak, eggs and potatoes.¬† Shania had eggs benedict and grits.¬† Austin had pancakes with cinnamon apples.¬† The kids shared a side of sausage.¬† I took pictures of most of it. All I can say is- YUM! ūüôā

 

On the way out the door, we bought some doughnuts- powdered, cinnamon sugar and glazed.¬†¬†I was¬†so full that I hardly cared about them at the time.¬† Later, I ate a powdered doughnut in the car.¬† It was good but paled in comparison to that waffle which I think I had a dream about somewhere in Alabama on the way home…

So, overall we ate pretty good in Destin.¬†¬†And we¬†had a great family vacation.¬† I miss it already. ūüė¶

Wilton’s “Just Cupcakes” Course

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I’ve wanted to take a cake decorating class for a long time and never got around to it.¬† In the meantime, I’ve decorated a few cakes over the past couple of years and ended up teaching myself a few things.¬† One day, I bought some pastry bags and decorator tips and played around to see what I could do.¬† Today, I finally attended a class.¬† I chose the cupcakes class because, well- I love cupcakes!¬† I also wanted to learn how to make cupcake cakes. I did not get to actually make one though.¬† I just watched the instructor make one.¬† It was pretty cool- she made a butterfly in about 15 minutes! I know the same cake would have taken me two hours.¬† I can’t wait to make my own.¬† Shania wants one for her birthday (which is in July) so I’ll get to make one soon.¬† Actually, I’ll probably make a practice one mostly because I don’t want to wait that long!

Anyway…. back to the class.¬† It was one of the fast track courses which takes place all in one day.¬† It was three hours long.¬† This was great in terms of fitting it into my schedule but it¬†ended up feeling very rushed.¬† The instructor demonstrated a few techniques and then told us to practice them on our cupcakes.¬† We weren’t required to do anything specific.¬† I mostly did what she had shown us but I had to throw the baseball one in there in honor of Austin’s recent themed baseball birthday party. ūüôā I got bored with the pink frosting (the blue, yellow and purple cupcakes were airbrushed) but I didn’t have time to mix other colors, except for a small amount of¬†the red.¬† I didn’t finish decorating all of the cupcakes I had and the ones I did were done in a bit¬†of a hurry so I wasn’t entirely pleased with them.¬†But, since I was just bringing them home to eat them, I guess I won’t lose sleep over it.¬†¬†¬†

Overall, I didn’t learn anything too groundbreaking in terms of decorating but I learned a few basic tips and it was a lot of fun!¬† It was nice to have a reason to practice and play around with different tips.¬† I liked the cupcake cake demo and¬†it motivated and excited me to try my own soon.¬† I also came home with a new icing recipe and¬†some decorator tips, bags, etc.¬†¬†The¬†store where the class was held (Cake Art Party Store in Tucker, Georgia) was awesome- they had so much great stuff! I’ve been missing out by just going to Michael’s.¬†¬†¬†¬†

There was one major problem with the class- I had a hard time not eating all of the cupcakes!¬†Especially after the first couple ones were frosted.¬† I had to talk myself out of eating one in the car on the way home. ūüôā

Bluefin- Atlanta

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Scott and I went to Bluefin to celebrate our third wedding anniversary. I chose it because it was on three Atlanta Top 10 lists: Best Overall Restaurants, Best Ambiance and Best Food.

The website description: Bluefin is an upscale casual Japanese Fusion restaurant featuring a lounge of impressive proportions. The menu is an exciting blend of modern Japanese cuisine with a pinch of American & European taste. The extensive menu features from unique Classic Caesar & special Japanese seaweed salad to exclusive Filet Mignon and fashionable Sashimi & Sushi platters. Bluefin is famous for a wide variety of Wines & Premium sakes as well.

Everything I expected based on what I read ahead of time was completely true. The ambiance was very nice- it was very modern and upscale but felt very comfortable at the same time.¬†Our hostess (who was kind enough to take a few pictures of us) and waitress were very friendly and professional. The food was wonderful and presented so nicely that I didn’t want to eat anything right away because it looked so pretty! By going on a weeknight, we avoided the weekend crowds and had a very quiet and romantic anniversary dinner.

We ordered a lot of food! Scott ate calamari, soft shell crab, buffalo oysters and onion rings. I ate shrimp tempura, maui grilled chicken, grilled asparagus, grilled pineapple and yukon gold potatoes.¬† Scott did not like the soft shell crab very much but everything else was good. We were also pleasantly surprised by the food portions. Needless to say, we were stuffed by the end! Neither of us could finish our food. I had a really good¬†cherry limeade martini which I plan to try to recreate as soon as possible! ūüôā

Bluefin is a restaurant we will definitely go back to.

Website: http://www.bluefinatlanta.com

We booked our table through www.opentable.com.

Austin’s Funfetti Birthday Cupcakes

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Pillsbury’s Funfetti cake mix is my favorite cake mix to make. I think I will start a tradition of making them for Austin’s school birthday parties because a) it’s faster and easier to make on a weeknight than homemade cupcakes and b) kids always love them.¬† All I added to the batter was meringue powder to make them rise more. Austin really enjoyed these. When he turned one, he hardly knew what to do¬†when¬†we put cake in front of him,¬†but now he is a pro!