Sunday, July 29, 2012

Olympic-Themed Treats

Happy 2012 Summer Olympics y'all!

I must have asked the question
"So how much is an actual ticket to the Olympics?" Friday
night at least 20 times. No one had an answer for me.
So I googled :)

Roughly $800- not including travel there obviously.

[In case anyone else was curious.]

In other news... 
The opening ceremony is way too long.
That is something that needs to be worked on for 2016.

The Queen looked like she was wasted off wine and
then I saw this on the internet and almost died- 

I've had a super busy weekend so I haven't had
a chance to experiment with any of these fun, themed
treats but I thought I would share some:

Olympic Torches made with Ice Cream Cones and Popcorn

Olympic Donut Rings 

Olympic Ring Cupcakes with #teamUSA Flag 

Feeling SUPER crafty..?

Throw an Olympic Themed Party!

I, for one, don't have children and can't 
picture my boyfriend and any of his buddies
 partaking in any games without
black eyes and blood so I'll pass. 
I just had my carpets cleaned thanks.

Bring the Olympic Games home!
Choose a few themed treats and pick a couple 
fun and competitive games. 

Check these sites out for ideas:

^^ This site, by the way, is awesome.

I have also seen some DEELISSHH
cocktail recipes for adults. :) 


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Christmas in July

We are half way to CHRISTMAS!

Only 152 days!!!! So HORRAY for a celebratory Christmas post in July!

I. Cannot. Wait. For Elf. 

The purpose of this post is to serve as kind of a "to do list" for this December..
Let's see how "organized" it turns out... 

1)  Have all shopping done by the 1st week of December
Ok let's be honest. This isn't a realistic goal BUT I am at LEAST going to try!
See my problem is that I typically set myself a Christmas budget- and when 
I finish buying for everyone on my list and am still
under that budget, I kind of continue buying- right up until the day before =/ 
Hellloooo shopping problem!

2) Unique Gift Wrapping
I have been going caarraazzzyy on Pinterest, finding the
cutest ideas for wrapping presents. However, I always come back to
"Who has time for that??"
I'm obviously into details. My mom always says I "obsess over
the way things look." Better said- into details :)
I'm usually the gift bag type because its simple-
bag, tissue paper, done, boom. 
This year I want to try something a little different!

3) Have a killer Christmas tree
This one I am particularly excited about.
Bryan is more about picking out the biggest Christmas tree
but I'm content with a small tree as long as its pretty!
I really like the whimsical look!

4) Bake Christmas cookies with Grandma
Christmas is definitely a hectic time of year. I use to bake Christmas treats with
my Mom and Grandma almost every year but everyone just started getting 
waaayy too busy. Grandma makes some SERIOUS fudge and toffee bars!
Ultimately, I would like for all the girls- me, Mom, Grandma, Aunt
Sherry, Mara and Ashley to do kind of a cookie exchange but
let's not get crazy. I've been trying to nail Grandma down to a baking day anyway
for a "family" baking book. This is another project I'm working on... 

5) Bake in general!
Aside from the Grandma/Corin baking day, there were SO
many things that I saw on Pinterest last year that I wanted to try but
never got around to, starting with those super cute little
Santa sugar cookies above- actually VERY easy!!
Here are a some other festive treats that I want to try: 

There really are so many reasons to bake during Christmas time. 
Christmas parties, office Christmas parties, gifts for coworkers/family, cookie exchanges..
..which reminds me!

Last year we had a super successful Cookie Exchange 
between my girlfriends and I!

leading me to my next point.. 

6) Host another Cookie Exchange
Cookie exchanges are such an easy way to get a variety 
of different sweets! Not to mention a blast with a big group of girls
and a few bottles of wine.

7) Christmas parade with my Niece and Nephew
Last Christmas was kind of a blur between
Claire being diagnosed with cancer and my Nana passing away.
There really was no time for Christmas spirit. Every year Ocala
has a huge Christmas parade. I have gone every year except for last year.
I am ssoooo looking forward to bringing Claire baby to her first Christmas parade!

Now that you're in the Christmas spirit, 
set this as your homepage so you can keep a live countdown
until Christmas 2012. YAY!! 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Deep Fried Oreos

Oh. Yes. I did. 

Well, this post is clearly Paula Deen inspired :)

I'm not much for frying things because there's
just something about dodging hot grease popping out
of a frying pan that is so not pleasant.
In fact, the only reason I decided to actually make
these was because I had the support of Bryan's mom.

Here is what you will need:

2 Qts Vegetable Oil for frying
1 Lg Egg
1c Milk
2 tsp Vegetable Oil
1c Pancake Mix
1 Package Oreos

1. Heat oil in deep fryer to 350 degrees
2. Whisk together egg, milk and 2 tsp of vegetable oil. Stir in pancake mix
until no lumps remain. 
3. Dip cookies in batter one at a time and carefully place into oil.
4. Fry only 4-5 at one time for for about a minute, turning each over after 30 seconds.

5. Drain on paper towel-covered plate.
6. Top with powdered sugar.


...But SO BAD for you. 

Make sure you don't over fry them. An extra 15 seconds
in the frying pan is all it takes for them to taste like a chunk of coal. 



Thursday, July 12, 2012

Jack Daniel's Cupcakes

Bryan turned 24 this past weekend! 

Most of you may know this but Bryan had recently started
a country night at his club on Fridays-
Clearly the night is centered around the concept of 
good 'ol Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey.

So when I was trying to think of something unique to bake him
for his birthday- a few ideas popped into my head.
First I thought I wanted to try some type of a Guy Harvey cake, but
Guy Harvey is by far the most talented marine wildlife artist and 
I'm still drawing stick fishes like a 5-year-old. =/

Then I figured I could at least try some type of a marlin cake-
which would have been nice if I had time to order some type of a cake pan.

Finally I just decided just to stick with the Jack Daniels theme-
Jack Daniels Dark Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes!

Dark Chocolate Jack Daniel's Cupcakes
2c flour
3/4c cocoa powder
2c granulated sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
2 eggs
1/2c strong coffee
1/2c Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey
1c buttermilk
1/2c vegetable oil

1. Combine flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda & powder and salt.
2. In separate bowl combine eggs, coffee, whiskey, buttermilk and oil.
3. Pour egg mixture into flour mixture and whisk until smooth.
4. Spoon mixture into baking cups (half way full).
5. Bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes then let cool.

Whiskey Ganache
16oz dark chocolate; chopped into small pieces
3/4c heavy cream
2tbsp unsalted butter
1/4c Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey

1. Place chocolate in heat proof bowl and set aside.
2. Heat heavy cream until just boiling then pour over chocolate.
3. Cover chocolate and cream for 2 minuets to allow chocolate to soften.
4. Stir in butter.
5. Stir in whiskey and cool completely.

For the frosting I just used a chocolate butter cream.
Nothin' fancy.

Aside from the boys being idiots about the amount
of alcohol in the mixture- they turned out awesome!
As you can see, 1/2c of Jack in the batter (which bakes out)
and 1/4c in the ganache isn't exactly going to get the job done, boys.

We met at Brew for a few quick beers then went to Kobe for dinner.

Such a fun night! =) 


Monday, July 9, 2012

4th of July Flag Cake & other festivities

Happy 4th of July!
Hope everyone had an awesome 4th! We sure did :)
Despite the fact that 4th of July fell on a WEDNESDAY this year! 
How weird was that?? 

This week's festivities consisted of:

The Flag Cake 
Ok so the flag cake.
As soon as I saw this on Pinterest I was like-
makiinngg thatttt!

So let me walk you through this mess of a process-

*First you separate your cake batter into 3- a red, a white and a blue.
You're going to be baking 3 different cakes here.
I used a 6" round cake pan but it's  way easier if you use an 8".
Start with the red and the white cake.
*Once they are cooled, slice them in half.
*Place one of the red halves on top of the white half, frosting in between.
*Next, once the blue cake is cooled, cut out a circle in the center of the cake.
*Place the blue cake ring on top of the red layer, again, frosting in between.
*Finally, cut a circle out of the center of each, the red and the white
cake, and place them in the center of the blue cake.

Vodka Watermelon
*note Jake in the background

THIS I have never done before! 
I thought that literally all you do is slice up watermelon
and let it soak in tupperware for a few hours.
That's one way of doing it, but the watermelon get 
gross apparently. So, armed with my large watermelon,
bottle of Vodka and my serrated watermelon knife- 
I thought I was all ready to rock.
Not so much.
Bryan, after first watching me struggle to even cut the "cork"
out of the center of the watermelon, decided to step in.
I wont take credit for this. =/ 

Disappearing Island- New Smyrna Beach
Disappearing Island by New Smyrna was a recent discovery for us!
Bry & I went out there for the first time last Saturday and then
decided to load up the boat again for the 4th.
Constantly moving and re-anchoring the boat was irritating
but the little island itself is awesome.
Possible new favorite spot?!

We totally brought Jake out on the boat with us :)
We never bring him out when we fish because he jumps in after our bobbers.
This is not a joke. 
He will literally launch himself overboard because he thinks it's a toy.
So we got him a little life jacket (which conveniently calms him down)
and brought em along!

There was so many other 4th of July things that I 
wanted to try this year but just never got around to them.. 
..but I was super happy with the way that the flag cake turned out!

Bryan's birthday is only a few days away!
Check back for Jack Daniels cupcakes! 


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Claire Baby: The Benefit & Bake-Sale Style Cupcakes

Prepare yourselves!
This one is a little long...
On April 4th 2011, my very first niece was born.
Claire Marie Onorato
She was precious (and oh look- already wearing pink)!
 I could not wait to spoil that little princess.
Once Fall of 2011 rolled around, my brother and sister-in-law started
to notice a few abnormalities- weight gain, sweating, etc.
They eventually made the decision to bring her to a doctor- the doctor then later
recommended Claire see an endocrinologist due to the likelihood that it was
a hormone issue. After a few series of blood tests and an MRI, Ashley
received a phone call from the doctor asking if she was at home with her husband.
When she replied that she was not, he asked her to please call him once they were 
together. I remember my Mom telling me that as I was pulling out of work.
My Mom, who was already on the verge of tears, was certain that
this was bad news. With a background in medical, I immediately
started thinking of reasons why a doctor would request that both Mom and Dad
be together for what he was about to tell them- 
other than bad news. 
Truth was, I couldn't think of any. I told my Mom he probably had some
long explanation as to what was going on and didn't want to have to repeat 
it from parent to parent. We hoped.
Later that night my mom called me and could barely get the words out.
Claire had cancer.
The MRI had confirmed that there was a grapefruit-sized tumor 
attached to Claire's adrenal gland. She was diagnosed with an extremely
rare (1 in 3 million affected) form of cancer, Adrenal Cortical Carcinoma. 
After announcing that they had to operate immediately, Claire was 
brought back to Shands in Gainesville and the tumor was removed the
following day. The entire family was there before and after the surgery
to meet Claire's team of doctors. I say team because there was literally
like 5 or 6. They informed us that they removed what they could but there 
was still a possibility that it would spread to her bloodstream. After a few
weeks had passed and more tests were run, the doctors found yet
another spot of cancer on Claire's liver. Surgery #2 was arranged and the spot was removed.
Claire has been undergoing chemotherapy since December and will continue
to receive treatment through November of this year. Although her past MRI showed
no new cancer- Thank you, God- the chemo makes her extremely sick
and Ashley was forced to leave her job. Now running only off of
one income, my Aunt Sherry jumped into gear and thought of several
ways in which we can help my brother and his family.

First she arranged for a monthly $15 Donation through November of this year.
The purpose of the $15 was to aid in virtually anything that my brother and
sister-in-law needed at this time, whether it be gas (driving back and forth to Gainesville gets to be extremely expensive), food, bills, personal needs- whatever! 
The idea spread like wildfire. Between the 2 families, a ton of people decided to
participate, which was SO awesome!

Then, Aunt Sherry and one of my Dad's good friends, George,
came up with the idea to host a benefit concert.
The benefit consisted of several live performances, 50/50 raffle, silent auctions,
vendors and of course a good BBQ. 

--> Enter the actual baking side of this post <-- 

When I heard there were a few ladies participating in a bake 
sale geared towards donations, I saw a perfect opportunity to use the
PIN of "individually wrapped" cupcakes for bake sales! Woo hoo!

The "individually wrapped" concept is actually great for a bake sale.
There's no mess and they're way cuter than the standard zip-lock baggie!

I later realized that the combination of 
pink, purple, sprinkles and cheetah
was waaayyy to girly for the Candler VFW  :/
The majority of the people there opted for the margarita cupcakes-
which contained 2 shots of tequila each.
(See "To Bake List") 

Overall, the benefit was a huge success!
We raised over $7,000 from the benefit and easily collected
another $1000 from gift cards, etc. 

Corey & Ashley were blown away and so grateful.
It is honestly so comforting to have the people that we do in our lives.
Thank you SO much, again, to everyone who helped out. 
A special thank you to Aunt Sherry, George & Bambi- Love y'all! 

From Left:
Tammy (Jamie's girlfriend) Dad, Me, Mom, Dan & Jamie (in back) Corey,
Ashley, Aunt Sherry & Alex (in front)

Claire, who had just wrapped up another treatment, was unable to
attend the benefit.

But Corey made sure to snap a photo of her that day!

Happy Girl!