Saturday, January 31, 2015

Sugar Cookie Cake

I eyed this recipe on Pinterest quite some time ago and decided when we had both families over for dinner last weekend would be the perfect time to make it!  This was my first homemade cake, of sorts, and first homemade icing.  I will never ever use canned icing again, the icing was fantastic! As was the cake!
Cake Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, softened 
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 and 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
2/3 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles

Frosting Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, softened 
1 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons half and half (or heavy cream)
1 teaspoon almond extract
salt, to taste
Directions:
Cream the softened butter in a large mixing bowl with either a hand or stand mixer

Add the sugar and mix until fluffy then beat in (I used a spatula for this part) the egg, egg yolk and vanilla.

In a smaller bowl (below) whisk all the dry ingredients.  The flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cornstarch.
Add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients in 2-3 parts and mix on low speed.

Once the dough is evenly mixed, blend in the white chocolate chips and sprinkles with a spatula.

Pam your pie dish (throw away works easy) and press the cookie dough into the pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes 
I stuck a toothpick in at about 28-29 minutes and it was good to go, I like cookies softer so I wish I had pulled it out a tiny bit earlier but mine was still soft just not extra gooy.

The cake will sink in in the middle, that's normal!

Let the cake cook and then frost it however you want.  I used one of my winton tools and did a simple design but next time I might consider doing a checkered look or something to use more of the frosting! I had quite a bit left and it is d e l i c i o u s.
To lick the bowl or to not lick the bowl?!
My favorite parts?!
The white chocolate chips give an extra unique touch.  I loved this!  
I'm not a big fan of "regular sprinkles" so I picked another type which worked just as well
A little extra icing never hurt anyone.  My niece suggested the middle circle and I think it was a fantastic idea! The frosting is beyond delicious.

Friday, January 30, 2015

A new girl in our life & snow days {Friday Linkups}

Happy Friday! TGIF, I am so ready for a weekend!  Even though this week flew because of the "blizzard" I'm ready for another weekend.

If you missed my favorite post from the week, click: here for a look back at wedding planning, wedding memories and our honeymoon in… Bora Bora! Professional photos and more Wedding Wednesday's coming soon… 

1. Meeting Our Stella
Yesterday our family of two became a family of three!  We picked up our sweet little puppy, Stella!  Check back next week to meet Stella, our story of our journey to get her and a picture overload.  The photos today are from our visit last Thursday (1/22) when we first met our little girl puppy.  She is sweet as can be (when you are right by her side) and we are so excited to welcome her into our lives.
On our way to meet our girl.  About a 45 minute drive.  Derek had to go into work late on Thursday and I was able to rearrange my schedule so we could make the quick trip; we were back home by about 11am.

Eeekk!! The cuteness 
She won us over instantly.
Loving on my girl
Check out those curls.

Such a tiny little ball of joy in her daddy's arms.

I'm so happy to finally have this cutie home with us. 

2. Snow Day
The storm that snuck in! So happy and thankful that when I was at the grocery store last Friday I had meal planned through Wednesday and we were stocked on food before the storm popped up.  My Monday morning meeting was cancelled on Sunday so I settled down for two days at home.  Although, I was missing my husband :-/ Derek had to stay over at a hotel because they had a couple clients that were still planning on coming in on Tuesday even though the city was in a snow emergency. Oh wait, except we only got maybe TWO inches of snow!! Derek slid home on the still iffy roads Tuesday morning and we spent the day at home like most people!  Sun was out and "snow" was melting by noon.  I do love tracking a storm, even if it's a bust.

3. Bridesmaid Canvas
I wanted a few canvases for our house with wedding photos but I thought it would be best to start with just one to see how I liked it.  It came in the mail this past week and it was love at first sight! As soon as I have some free time to measure wall space and pick the next photos, we'll be ordering a few more!
Full office details post coming soon
4. Magazine Time
I used to get 3-4 magazines every single week and read them cover to cover.  Now I usually just resort to apps but I couldn't pass up the US Weekly Cover with the Bachelorette Wedding and coverage of Des and Chris' big day.  The snowy nights gave me the perfect time to read curled up under a blanket.

5. Bachelor Comments
All hail Queen Crazy.  Ashley S. had a speaking roll again this week! PTL! Sad her crazy had to go.  I cannot even wait to see her at the Women Tell All.


Chris' sisters were so cute; what an adorable blonde family.

Jade hit the jackpot - She gets to keep Louboutins AND Neil Lane Diamond Earrings?! Of course it was noted multiple times that they wed Neil Lane.  But even better - There's a new Cinderella movie?! Of course ABC had to promote the Disney movie but who cares, I watched Cinderella everyday as a girl, I see myself going opening weekend.  This might have been my favorite date. ever.  I was so loving Jade.  Until one of my besties Sam told me she had nude photos out and posed for playboy.  Bye Jade.

Favorites: Whitney, Becca, Carly 

I don't know if I've ever hated a contestant as much as I do Ashley Kardashian.

How happy were we all that TGIT was FINALLY back last night?!
I needed a big ole glass of Olivia wine after Stella let herself out of her play area.. three times. TG for parents too right?! Thankfully mine brought over Nash's old play pen so prayers for some smoother adjusting today!  

Thursday, January 29, 2015

February Goals

Making our way through the dreary winter months, February is a short month but still have a couple things I'd like to accomplish.

1. More regular mail, just because 
I love seeing what is in my mailbox, usually nothing special or exciting, but I also love sending mail and with Valentine's Day coming up, hopefully I can accomplish that this month

2. Allow myself to just "do nothing"
January was low key but not quite as quiet as I thought, I'm hoping for some lazy Saturdays and coming home from work most nights to "do nothing" and r e l a x.

3. Reading
On the note of "doing nothing" I have a pile of books left from the honeymoon and would love to get through some of them

4. Date Nights & Home Cooked Meals Continued 
With the craziness of the wedding and the busy fall and holiday season behind us, we're having so much fun just being Newlyweds! We are definitely keeping up with more date nights and more home cooked meals

5. Valentine's Day
Last year Derek was sick on Valentine's Day and before that we always celebrated early or late so this is our first year to celebrate ON the holiday.  We're going out for a late dinner (hopefully after the crowd dies down) for our first Valentine's Day but in the future I definitely see us doing something more low-key.  You have to make the first year special, right?!

6. House Work
We are really getting close to being finished with the new house.  Mostly we just have a little bit of decorating left and I decided it might be easier to move from room to room (obviously, January's focus was the office) so I'm hoping to make my way through another room this month.

7. Celebrate Five Months!
We kind of skipped over our "monthly anniversary" dates with the holidays but it's an added way to remember all the little things and make our first married year even more special.  I'm thinking maybe a stay at home date night for this one.

Following up on my January goals…

1. Blog Makeover
This was completed ahead of schedule and I'm super happy with the results

2. Further Photoshop Learning
This one will be pushed over to February :-/

3. Pickup on Workouts
Not quite up to five days a week but most definitely 3-4 and at least two days of double workouts 

4. Two-Three Home Cooked Meals/Week
We've been doing good with this one, except one week that Derek had to work nights but we've tried out some delicious new recipes and are back into meal planning for the week ahead.

5. Weekly Date Nights
Check! From a day-date at Not Your Average Joes to one of our local favorites, Caseys and the sports bar down the street, Double Edge Grill and most recently a special night out at Ruth's Chris; we've been enjoying our weekly nights out.  Sometimes Thursdays, Sometimes Sunday nights and sometimes it's just our weekend activity.

6. Weekend Trip to Penn State
We had a great relaxing weekend at Penn State just after the new year.  If you missed it, look here

7. Organize the Pantry/Kitchen Cabinets
I felt so refreshed after I finished these tasks.  I love an organized kitchen.

8. Make major improvements in the office
I'm SO happy to say this has been accomplished and we've just about finished the room!  A welcome in post on the office coming later this month.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wedding Wednesday: A Look Back

It's been a while since I've done a Wedding Wednesday.  Now that I finally have the time too, I'll be sharing some of our professional photos in the coming weeks/months as well as a peek into Newlywed Life.

Since it's been a couple months, I'm re-sharing some of my favorite past wedding planning/wedding/honeymooning posts today… 

just a couple of my favorite wedding wednesday, wedding planning posts:

Cute ideas for a bridesmaids luncheon: here

If you missed my wedding memories posts…
 click here for Part One, here for Part Two, here for Getting Ready, here for the After Party/Post Wedding Brunch and here for Rehearsal Dinner.

Last but not least, to check out the honeymoon or if you happen to be planning a trip to the French Polynesia… 

If you or somebody you know is planning on traveling to Tahiti or Bora Bora, 
be sure to check out my bora bora travel tips

I just love looking back at these posts and just remembering all the excitement of the wedding events.

Excited and ready to get back into the swing of things with some occasional wedding posts around here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Cooking with Christina {Bridesmaid's Bread}

Mom has been making Almond Poppyseed bread for years.  As if she didn't have more than enough to do, she decided to make a fresh batch for the morning of the wedding for the girls to have as part of the food that morning (there was a plenty more, a bride's gotta eat, right?!).  It's always gotten rave reviews but everyone was super into it on this day so we've now switched the name to "Bridesmaid's Bread".  

She brought the leftovers over the day after the wedding and people were still non-stop talking about it. Anyway, I made it this weekend to have on hand for Derek's family's visit so I thought I'd share it today! It's for sure to be a hit and it's great for breakfast or a snack or anytime of the day really.  There are so many fabulous tastes in it.

Ingredients for Bread:
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring 
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla flavoring
1 1/2 teaspoon butter flavoring
3 eggs, beaten
1 1/8 cups oil
1 1/2 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 1/2 cups milk
Ingredients for Glaze:
3/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring
1/2 teaspoon butter flavoring 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla flavoring 

Directions:

Pour all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl (don't mix yet)
Pour all the liquid ingredients into a medium mixing bowl (again, just pour, don't mix)
Pour the liquid mixture into the large mixing bowl
Mix all the ingredients with a mixer for two minutes

Pour into loaf pans 
use either two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 pans or three 8 x 3 3/4 pans
I used three pans and found it's easiest to get the mixture in by using a small measuring cup so nothing drips
Bake for about an hour at 350 degrees 
While the bread is in the oven, mix the ingredients for the glaze together in a small mixing bowl
Let the bread cool down for a minute or two but don't wait to long and then pour the glaze over the bread (the bread must still be warm) and go ahead and drizzle the entire bowl of glaze over each of the three loafs; you won't be sorry, the glaze is delicious.
So many flavors involved in this bread an it is sure to be a hit!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Weekending: Family & Appletinis {Weekend Recap}

What a blessed weekend we have had!  Special time with both families, a great date night AND a lot of relaxation!  Perfect combo.

The weekend starts Friday afternoon right?? I stopped at the grocery store on the way home and my cart was overflowing, so were the aisles!  Seriously, I couldn't believe it was so crowded on a Friday afternoon, I thought I was avoiding the weekend mess.
I did some baking for the weekend and then Derek and I had to drop off my car at the GMC dealership for a long overdue oil change.  I very much needed some new black pants so I talked Derek into a quick run in to the mall and super score, Banana Republic was having a 40% off sale AND I found my pants.  My favorite pair: here. I have them in black, navy & maroon.  
 We did a late dine (like we were digging into our meals at 9:30) at Ruth's Chris and it was fantastic as usual.  Fun fact, they do half off wine bottles on Friday nights, which would have been fantastic if we were craving wine but I LOVE the watermelon martinis at the steakhouse.  

They also have a delicious drink menu, I see us making some of these at home.
 Much needed after a busy week. We had a great date night out, much needed as well.  We love our date nights together 
The weekend snow had just started when we left dinner at was just wet snow so Derek convinced me to pop into the new restaurant right next to our house (literally we can walk, in the warmer weather we will most definitely be regulars) for a drink and their bar is fantastic, such a great addition to the neighborhood.
We ran into some friends and I had one to many martinis (I always forget, vodka is NOT my friend)
I love nights out with my sweet groom.
 Thankfully it was a less than a minute drive home
 Very exciting moment; it was our first snow in the new house.  We've had some dustings and flurries but this was the first substantial amount and we were like little kids!  It always helps when you shovel the driveway after a couple drinks and don't have to to it the next morning.
We of course had to document our first snow and take some time watching it fall on the back deck.

 To toast our first snow, we had a drink at the Saloon (our bar in the basement) and stayed up way past our bedtime.
 You know your old when your up before 8:30 on a Saturday morning and face timing some of your best friends.  The rest of the morning wasn't as pretty.  The appletini aftermath kicked in and let's just say, I was in rough shape.  Like Derek and I shared a slice of bread and a sprite for lunch rough shape. Luckily, I rallied and was ready to go when Derek's family arrived in from NJ later in the day.
 Being an aunt is the best, being a fun aunt is even better.  Icing always wins.
 And then we took it one  step further.  Our house was so full of life and happiness with our two little nieces in town.  Two sweet peas ages five and under.
We had the best night.  So much food, so many laughs, both families together. Happy heart.
My kitchen helper.  How cozy are her pajamas?! I was super jealous.
DIY Salad Bar
 My go to "hosting a big group meal"… Baked Ziti 
Recipe: here
 Garlic bread and of course we had meatballs too.
We had this delicious cookie cake for dessert.  My first homemade dessert and first homemade frosting. I will never go back to frosting in a jar; this was too fabulous.  Recipe coming later this week, possibly a special Saturday post.
 It's always a love/hate relationship when your husband decides it is a good idea to play a video that he took of you having a rough morning after too many tinis. Not only revealing the video and story but playing it over his loud speaker in the basement AND revealing not so flattering pictures.  Thanks, Derek. Thanks.
 There were plenty of laughs all around and just a little bit of embarrassment for this girl.  Fun fact; whenever I have a martini of any kind, Derek likes to call me Tini.  He's been known to say "another martini for Tini." Extra fun fact; I had a professor in college that took it upon herself to call me Tini.








 Such a loving family, laughing at my mistakes.  But a happy and laughing bar makes for a happy and fun night.  It was so much fun seeing everyone laugh and have a great time all night (not just at the martini stories, we laughed about a lot more).
Whenever we're with the nieces (and/or nephews) it's always an early wake up call.  The non-parents, Derek and I, are always ready for our naps by noon.  Derek's Mom, brother, sister-in-law and the girls left in the morning and his Dad was traveling for work so we did a brunch at the diner before he left.  We were most definitely back in bed around noon for our much needed naps and lazy afternoon.

What is Kallyn doing in a dog crate?! Why were we putting a dog crate together Sunday morning?! Is there possibly a surprise later this week?!
 Derek and his dad put together some new gates and Kallyn tested those out for us too.  Everything is ready to go thanks to our sweet test girl.
 Ainsley sat out of the work set up and played with shoes instead. Smart girl.
 Post (very long) nap time, we decided it was snack time and resorted to the couches, some of Mom's leftover delicious dip (recipe: here) and an episode of Entourage.  We are beyond hooked on it.
We spent the rest of the afternoon putting together the most complicated lamp for the office and a bookshelf that's serving as a TV stand.  We only got about halfway through the stand before dinner.

We had a Sunday family dinner at The Towne House.  I got to use my birthday certificate and my cousin, Ryan and Grandma joined our family of five for a great early dinner.
 We beat the snow and had a great night and meal.  Per usual, I had my most favorite franch onion soup and sea scallops.
 Family time is always special time and it was a great evening together.
We finished out the weekend with a TV mashup.  Derek rented the WWE fight on HBO and I flipped back and forth between the Pro Bowl and Miss Universe.  I am such a sucker for a beauty pageant, I love love love them.  If I could have any job in the hospitality industry it would be…

1. Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader 
2. Beauty Pageant Queen
3. Talk Show Host
4. Country Music Star
5. Backup Dancer

We are ready and prepared for this impending "storm" (I have to watch the news for the details) that is headed our way.  My morning meeting is already cancelled and I'm working from home today, staying warm and ready to track the storm. I should have added weather girl to my list above because I love tracking the snow storms.