Monday, March 29, 2010

spring has sprung

can i tell you how excited i am that spring has finally arrived??!
we had the ceiling fan on today and it was about 78 degrees outside.
praise the LORD!

to celebrate the season one step closer to summer, my friends and i made some lemon squares last night.
while i was cutting and dusting them with powdered sugar i had my doubts that they would live up to my mom's lemon squares.
when i was little, i always requested this tasty treat when it was our turn to bring snack after my soccer games.
i can remember being on the field, the game was still being played and i would be yelling at my teammates as we ran past each other "we brought lemon squares for snack!!"
i am totally serious.
i was that passionate about those squares!

i was very happy with the results of the ones we baked up last night.
they are not my mom's lemon squares but they were good!
the crust was about equal in thickness to the lemon filling.
they definitely satisfied my need for some lemony action.

i served them warm which was a nice change.
i usually have them at room temperature or chilled.

these would be a great treat for an Easter brunch.

Lemon Squares
{print recipe}

2 sticks (8 ounces) butter, at room temperature
2 cups flour
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
4 beaten eggs
2 cups sugar
4 tablespoons flour
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel
confectioners sugar

Place oven rack in the middle position and preheat to 325°. Cream together butter, 2 cups flour and 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar. Pat into ungreased 13x9x2-inch pan. Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes.
While crust is baking, blend together eggs, sugar, 4 tablespoons flour, lemon juice, and lemon peel together with an electric mixer until smooth. Once crust has finished baking pour lemon mixture on top. Return to oven and bake at 325° for 20 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to rest for about 10 minutes.
With a knife loosen the edges, cut into squares and sift confectioners' sugar over the top while still warm.
Serve warm, at room temperature or chilled.

Friday, March 26, 2010

hold the phone.

i think i may have just tasted the most incredible cookie in the all of cookiedom.
these rocked my world.
if you are a nutella and chocolate are in BIG trouble.
i just wanted to thank costco for selling ginormous nutella twin packs for an absurd price of $8.00.
each one is 26.5 ounces.

to quote the classic movie tommy boy:
"i can actually hear you getting fatter."

these lil bits of cookie goodness were the perfect texture.
the taste is mild, light and fluffy with a sugary, slightly puffed exterior.

then i went and stuffed them with chocolate ganache and it was just ridiculous at that point.

i wish i could send you one of these right now.
i am pretty sure you feel the same ;-)

make these now.

Nutella Cookies stuffed with Chocolate Ganache
yields :: about 36 small sandwich cookies
{print recipe}

For the cookie:
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 heaping teaspoon kosher salt (if you only have regular salt add under a teaspoon)
1/2 cup chocolate hazelnut spread (recommended: Nutella)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Sugar for rolling cookies in

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In your stand mixer bow place the chocolate hazelnut spread (nutella), butter, and both sugars. On medium low speed cream together mixer for about about 3 minutes.
Add the egg and vanilla and blend until combined. Stir in the dry ingredients, just until incorporated. Chill dough in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Shape the cookie dough into 1 inch, about 1 teaspoon sized round balls. Rolls the cookie balls in sugar and place the cookies on a heavy cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.
Place in oven and bake for 6 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to cool on cookies sheet for about 5 minutes.
Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

For ganache:
1/3 cup heavy cream
6 oz semi sweet chocolate chips

In a medium heavy duty sauce pan heat heavy cream just to the boiling point.
Remove from heat and add in chocolate chips. Allow to stand for 2 minutes.
With a whisk, mix until smooth. Allow to cool to just about room temperature.
Spoon a small amount of the ganache on to the bottom of one cookie.
Top off with another cookie and allow to set. Then enjoy!

These are best eaten in the presence of a chaperone to make sure you don't polish off the whole batch by yourself.
adapted from :: everyday italian

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

our feature presentation...

when it rains it pours.
living eventfully has been making a
splash across the web this week!
thanks to all of our blog world friends that have featured us!
{anything that is in orange letters is a clickable link}

one pretty thing has us in their baby shower round up today.
this is one of my all time favorite sites for inspiration.
i am so happy to be included!

  we were the winning feature of the day!
kara is an incredible event planner.
her site features her own parties as well as events by other party planners.

we are were also on head of the table.
man...i wish they were closer to me.
i would go NUTS with all of their amazing table settings!!
a few of my recipes were also accepted by
foodgawker and tastespotting.

thanks everyone for the love, support and encouragement!
its exciting to watch my business grow...
but even more exciting that i have such wonderful
friends and family to share in my excitement with me.
have a blessed and eventful day.

Monday, March 22, 2010

five spice pork tenderloin

one of our favorite dinners is pork tenderloin.
its a lean, inexpensive meat that can be so flavorful and tender when cooked right.

i saw a recipe for pork tenderloin on annie's eats the other day and i knew immediately that i wanted to make something similar for dinner that night.

i have a jar of five spice that i have been wanting to use up.
i adjusted the recipe to make use of it.
this was seriously. delicious.
jere jae and i were most impressed with the 35 minute cook time!

i bought the pork tenderloin at costco.
it is sold in a two pack.
this recipe requires one pack of two, one-pound tenderloins.

Five Spice Pork Tenderloin
yields :: 4-5 servings
{print recipe}

For the rub:
2 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. five spice powder
2 pork tenderloins (about 2-2½ lbs. total)
2 tbsp. olive oil

For the glaze:
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tbsp. (2-3 cloves) finely minced garlic
1½ tsp. Tabasco sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Place the oven rack in the middle position and preheat to 350˚ F.
Stir together the brown sugar, garlic and Tabasco in a small bowl until blended, set aside.
Combine the salt, pepper, cumin and five spice in a small bowl. Stir together with a fork to blend. Rub the mixture all over the pork tenderloins.
Heat an ovenproof 12-inch skillet (i used a cast iron skillet) over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil. Place the tenderloins in the skillet and brown on all sides, turning occasionally, about 4 minutes total. Remove from the heat, leaving the pork in the skillet.
Spread the brown sugar mixture evenly over the tops of the tenderloins. Pat mixture down with your finger tips.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
Place the skillet in the preheated oven and roast for about 20 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of each tenderloin registers 140˚ F.
Remove from oven and loosely tent the skillet with foil and let stand 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
adapted from :: annie's eats, pennies on a platter

Sunday, March 21, 2010

for my superhero husband...

jere jae, (its pronounced jer-jay... its an inside joke nickname) my amazing, talented, handsome and bearded husband recently celebrated his birthday.

i have been mulling over what i should make him for months.
i know, i know...i'm a goober.

when making something for the husband, its narrowed down to one field.
he is a chocolate law-vah.
he is the mayor of cocoa town.
he's never met some chocolate he didn't like.
if we had never crossed paths i'm pretty sure he would have married chocolate.

i asked him awhile back what type of cake he would like for his birthday.
he says straight to my face "chocolate cake"
so i get ready to pull some teeth.
me to him; "this is a big deal! its for your birthday and its going on the blog so pick something a little more challenging."
blank stare.
then he says "chocolate cake".

good grief.
i was basically on my own.
what ever i decided to make needed to include a substance called chocolate.
got it.

one of our favorite cheesecakes is the kahlua cocoa coffee cheesecake from the cheesecake factory.
we have only had two encounters with this thing and we talk about it like its a dear, long lost friend.
"remember that time we had a slice of that kahlua cocoa coffee times."
but it is that good.

so when i saw this recipe on smitten kitchen for a cappuccino fudge cheesecake, i did a double take.
low and was basically the same as our beloved $8.00 a slice cheesecake factory fave.

i had found my winner!
i was pleasantly surprised to find out this was not as difficult to make as i envisioned, despite the looooong directions.
when we sliced into it at jere jae's birthday party, there were ohhhhh's and ahhhhh's.
then silence and utter disbelief as we all tasted it!
it was AH-mazing.

if you love chocolate and coffee flavors...say hello to your new bff.

Cappuccino Fudge Cheesecake
yields:: 16-18 small slices (its very rich)
{print recipe}

1 1 lbs. 2-ounce package of oreo's finely crushed (i used chocolate filled oreo's)
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 cups heavy or whipping cream
20 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, chopped
1/4 cup KahlĂșa or other coffee-flavored liqueur (i used torani coffee syrup)

3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 1/2 tablespoons instant coffee crystals
1 1/2 tablespoons Kahlua or Torani coffee syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons mild-flavored (light) molasses
3 large eggs, room temperature

1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

To make crust:
Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with 3 inch sides with a circle of parchment paper. Grease the sides of the pan.
Combine the finely crushed cookies, nutmeg and salt in a mixing bowl. Add butter and mix with a rubber spatula or fork until butter is evenly distributed and all the crumbs are moist. Transfer crumbs to springform pan. Wrap plastic wrap around your fingers and press crumb mixture firmly up the sides to within 1/4 inch of top edge, then press into the bottom of pan, set aside.

To make ganache:
Bring cream to simmer in a saucepan. Remove from heat; add chopped chocolate and KahlĂșa/syrup. Allow to stand for 2 minutes. Whisk until chocolate is melted and ganache is smooth. Pour 2 cups of the ganache over the bottom of crust. Freeze until ganache layer is firm, about 30 minutes. Reserve remaining ganache; cover and let stand at room temperature to use later for top of cheesecake.

To make filling:
Position rack in middle of the oven and preheat to 350°F. In a small bowl mix together coffee crystals, Kahlua or syrup, vanilla, and molasses until instant coffee dissolves, set aside.
Beat the eggs together in a small bowl and set aside.
Place cream cheese and sugar in large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until combined, scraping down the sides and bottom of bowl making sure you get all cream cheese pieces. Continue to mix on low until completely smooth. Add in flour then coffee mixture to cream cheese mixture. Add 1/3 of the eggs in at a time until all of it is used up, scraping down sides of bowl between each addition. Mix until just incorporated.
Pour the filling over cold ganache in crust. Place cheesecake on rimmed baking sheet. Carefully place pan in to oven and bake until top is brown, puffed and cracked at edges, and the center moves slightly when pan is gently shaken, about one hour. It should be wobbly in the middle. Resist the urge to over bake, this will lead to the top cracking open.
Remove the cheesecake from the oven and keep the oven at 350 degrees.
Transfer cheesecake to cooling rack, still on the rimmed baking sheet. Cool for 15 minutes while preparing topping.

Make topping:
Whisk together sour cream, sugar, vanilla and salt in medium bowl. Pour topping over hot cheesecake, spreading to cover the entire top. Return to oven and bake until topping is set, about 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer cheesecake to cooling rack for about one hour.
Then place cheesecake in refrigerator for at least 3 hours, preferably over night.

To decorate and serve:
Run small sharp knife in between crust and pan sides to loosen cake; release pan sides.
Transfer cheesecake to platter. Spoon reserved ganache into pastry bag fitted with decorative small star tip. Decorate top of cheesecake in desired pattern; lattice work, rosettes, anything! Or you can do an abstract mess like mine below ;-).
Finish of with a piped row of ganache around top edge of cake.
If ganache is to quick/thin, place in the fridge for about 10 minutes or a longer to firm it back up a little, then continue with decorating.
Garnish with chocolate-covered espresso beans, if desired. Chill until ganache work is firm, at least 6 hours.
When ready to serve, remove from refrigerator and allow to sit on counter top for about 15- 30 minutes. This worked best for me.
Use a hot, dry knife to cut small 1 1/2 inch slices, serve with some homemade whipped cream.
Clean off knife in between slices.

Make ahead:
The cake is best made a day ahead, so the flavors have time to settle. The cake also takes enough time to make that it’s best not to rush through it the day you want to serve it. It can be made up to four days ahead. Wrap loosely in foil, forming dome over the ganache work; keep chilled.
adapted from :: smitten kitchen, bon appetit 2002

the birthday boy with his "chocolate cake".
he absolutely loved it!
for my birthday i just want him to shave.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

weekly dose!!

aloha everyone!
how are you??
hope you have something fun planned this weekend.
its going to be gorgeous here in orange county.
if i can get my okole in gear,
i plan on heading over to some yard sales,
costco and ikea today.

we have had a banner week in our humble household!
the munch is feeding herself with a spoon.
praise the LORD.
she is now 19 months.
here she is trying it out by herself for the 1st time:
 wrong end munch....
 not very we turned the spoon the right way.
 look at that concentration!
 go baby go!!!
 now she's an old pro at it.
 she is saying mmmmm, mmmmm, MMMMM!
 get it girl.
 one satisfied spoon customer.
 the michael jordan hang time spoon action shot.
 my big girl!
she is so happy with herself.
i think it may have something to do with the fact that i am
jumping up and down like a crazy woman and clapping for her.

we have a new addition to our family.
two new additions to be exact.
daddy brought some new friends home for the
munch while he was in hawaii.
here she is seeing them for the 1st time:
 she is smiling but she is a little confused....
you'll see why in a sec.
 more malasada dolls!!
 they are brothers to mally,
the munch's lovey for the past year.
they are inseparable.
 sooooo happy.
 here is mally with her new brothers...
they are just adorable!!
 we named this one chefy
 and this one is leo after leonard's bakery,
where they are from.
 here is mally....
we got her last february.
the reason why i think they are brothers is
because they don't have any hair like mally.
there has been much discussion over
this in our household.
everyone that comes over says that chefy
is a girl because of her eyelashes.
i say they ALL have the same eyelashes...
its the HAIR that makes mally a girl....
making the other two HAIRLESS ones boys.
what do you think?
funniest part is that the munch is
very confused by her new friends.
they all look alike!
she throws them aside to get to mally.

we hope and pray you are happy and healthy!
we miss all of you very much.
please drop us a line when you get a chance....

the munch and her spoon trainer

Friday, March 19, 2010

because its his baby too.

as an event planner, i'm always throwing baby showers.
my keen eye for detail has picked up on a trend.

the daddy to be always gets left out.
unless its a co-ed shower...but in 9 out of 10 cases, its not.

mommy to be gets showered with a lovely party, sentiments, gifts and delicious food.
daddy to be gets to pick her up at the end of her shower acting as a pack mule...
loading the car(s) up with the never ending pile of goods from babies r us.
then unloading it all at the house, usually by himself.
good times.

i wanted to create something fun so the awaiting father could be included!
i usually have the dad to be arrive at the tail end of the shower while gifts are still being opened.
then i hand them this.
"a daddy doody kit"
i purchased the clear paint pail at a craft store.
they are about $5.00.
for the "open in case of emergency" tag
i used an all cap font in red printed off my home printer.
I used a large round hole punch to cut it out.
its taped to the top with double sided foam dots.
for the "daddy doody kit" tag i just free hand tore
the paper around the words.
on the side of the pail with the seam,
i added a "contains:" list.
here is what was included in this one:
diaper rash cream
goggles (home depot, about $2.50)
face mask (home depot, about $2.00 for 1)
clothes pin for your nose
tongs for diaper disposal
hand sanitizer (travel size)
baby wash (travel size)
wash cloth
baby food
baby sockies
(travel size)
tylenol...for daddy

get creative and personalize it for the guy you are giving it to.
pop the lid back on and its good to go!
here is the daddy to be receiving his kit.
ready for some diaper changing action!
just a few more weeks to go...
and you will be knee deep in diaper doody.
so keep smiling!!

have fun making a kit for the expectant daddy in your life!

taste a rainbow....

i saw this great idea for cupcakes on the family fun website.
i've made rainbow cakes before, but i loved the idea of scattering gold chocolate coins on the platter you serve the cupcakes on.
the perfect st. patrick's day treat....finding me pot o' gold at the end of the rainbow!

these are great for any occasion.
a rainbow brite birthday party, noah's ark baby shower or bookmark this page for next st. patrick's day.

Mini Rainbow Cupcakes

yields :: 48 mini cupcakes
{print recipe}

1 box of white cake mix and all the needed ingredients
Food gels
Chocolate Gold Coins
Mini Baking Cups
Ziploc Sandwich Bags
6 drinking cups
Frosting: Premade store bought, homemade or whipped cream

Line a mini cupcake pan with paper cups and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare the cake as directed on the box.
Line 6 drinking cups with one Ziploc bag each.
Pour a scant cup of the cake mix into each bag.
Add one color of food gel to each bag.
Zip the bag closed and gently massage the bag of food gel and cake mix until there are no streaks left.
You can also place the cake mix into 6 small bowls, mix together with the food gels then place into the individual Ziploc bags.
What ever works for you.
Snip off one end of the Ziploc bag.
Squeeze about a dimes worth plus a little more of the cake batter into each cupcake well.
Don't go crazy, remember you have 6 colors that need to fit into that tiny cup.
Use the drinking cup to place the bag of cake mix in upside down while not in use.
Upside down so the cake mix doesn't ooze out while your working with the other colors.
After each color goes into all of the wells, gently tap the cupcake pan against the counter top to help even out the layer of batter.
Once you have all of the colors in the wells, place pan in preheated oven and bake for about 12 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Allow to cool in pan for about 5 minutes, then transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

Frost with your favorite white frosting or top with whipped cream.
Scatter the serving tray with chocolate gold coins or if you used frosting you can press one into the top.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

about to hatch...

our good friends lacey and james are expecting
a little addition to their nest!
baby isabelle ruth is due in late april.
we celebrated her impending arrival this past weekend
with a lovely lunch shower at cucina alessa.
lacey is a graphic designer and made the invitations.
as guest came up the stairs they were greeted by this IZZY banner.
i hand sewed letters cut out of felt on to the bibs and onesies.
pictures of lacey as a baby were hung with mini clothes pins along the feather boa line.
one of my favorite things i own.
it was perfect to use at this nest and bird themed shower.
a vintage canary yellow bird cage used as a card cage/box .
lacey's mom helen put together this beautiful diaper cake.
the centerpiece on the head table.
i wrapped a foam letter "I" in yarn.
isabelle is spelled out in glitter chipboard letters.
some guinea feathers glued to the top pull in the theme.
the chandelier above the head table was decorated with a feather boa,
paper birds and baby pictures of the mommy to be.
menus that matched the invitations and
a robin's egg filled with jelly bellies were at each place setting.
one egg had a little nest with a family of birds in it.
the finder of the bird family won a prize.
i painted easter eggs with robin's blue
acrylic paint so they would all match.
the centerpieces on the guest tables were
vine wreaths used as nests and branches with nest fixed on to them.
robin's eggs and feathers were then added.
guest were given birdie name tags.
i used this site's template to cut them out.
our shower "craft" was coloring
an alphabet page for izzy's abc book!
then our guest of honor arrived!
daddy to be james dropped her off.
here he is pinning on a nest pin i made for lacey,
the grandma's and great-grandma's to be.
you can find the tutorial here.
i hot glue gunned some felt and a pin back on to it.
i gave them a tour of the dessert and favor table.
the favors were sugar cookies cut out into
birdies and bird houses decorated with royal icing.
the eye and wing of the birdie is drawn on with an edible pen.
my new favorite decorating tool!
here is the recipe for the cookies.
lemon meringue cupcakes.

mini black bottom cupcakes
we then sat down to a wonderful lunch.
then it was time to open gifts.

james rejoined us at the end of gift opening.
so nice to have him there!
we live in orange county and daddy to be
is a die hard anaheim angels fans.
lacey's brother and sister in law live in
new hampshire and are die hard red sox fans...along with lacey.
we all had a good laugh when they opened this gift.
while lacey was opening gifts, we played the timer game.
an egg timer was set for about every 10 minutes.
when the timer went off who ever gave the gift the
mommy to be was opening won a prize.
the prizes were these super cute
reusable shopping bags with soaps and lotions tucked inside.
i gave james this "daddy doody kit"
at the end of the gift opening.
i think he was a bit concerned after seeing some of the contents ;-)
gloves, goggles, tongs, face mask.....
good times are on the way!!
here are the directions to make a diaper doody kit.
blessings on you lacey and james!
we can't wait to meet lil izzy.
i know that the Lord has hand picked the two of you
to be wonderful parents to this bundle of joy.
i can't wait to see the two of you in this next season of your
lives as your family and hearts grow.
please know we are here for you,
praying and cheering for you along the way!

thank you Lord for this miracle named isabelle ruth.


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