Friday, August 31, 2007


When Hadleigh was about 5 months old, my mom and I were shopping at Harolds. We had those great coupons Harold's sends out where you get a certain amount of "free" money, depending on what the barcode on your coupon rings up as. (Speaking of which, I used to get those coupons at least twice a year...and it's been a long time since I last got one. What's up with that?) Well, since clothes shopping was not my favorite thing to do 5 months after giving birth to Hadleigh, I found the perfect pair of sunglasses. Loved them.

I am picky about my sunglasses. They have to sit on my nose just right, the sides of the sunglasses can't go too far past my ears or they irritate me, etc. So I've had those sunglasses for an amazing 3.5 years...

And then, I did something really silly. While at the beach, Katy was taking pictures of me with Nathanael...and I thought the pictures might look better without my sunglasses covering my face. So I put them on my head (hindsight is 20-20), lifted Nathanael over my head and

Katy caught the loss of my glasses to the ocean on camera. Funny, huh? And how funny is my reaction? At this point, I'm reminding myself "Nathanael is more important than the glasses. Nathanael is more important than the glasses." Immediately, I started to look for them, but they were gone. Instantly.

Kind of made me start to think about everything the ocean has claimed...and I decided that a pair of sunglasses isn't that much of a loss. Far greater things could be (and have been) lost at sea.

(And I'm sure Hilary is just shocked that I would post this photo...not only pregnant but in a swimsuit! The only picture of her I've ever seen when she was pregnant, she covered her stomach with a pillow!)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


That's how old I am today. So I thought I would share one of my favorite cheesecake recipes (you can never have enough cheesecake recipes!) and one of the favorite birthday desserts that I have made for Brent. (It's time intensive but oh-so-delicious.)

Cappuccino-Fudge Cheesecake


1 9 oz. box chocolate wafer cookies
6 oz. semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
7 Tbsp. hot melted butter, unsalted

1. Finely grind cookies, chocolate, sugar, and nutmeg in processor or blender. Add butter and process until crumbs begin to stick together, about 1 minutes.
2. Transfer crumbs to 10-inch springform pan with 3-inch high sides. Wrap plastic wrap around fingers and press crumb mixture firmly up sides to within 1/2 inch of top edge, then over bottom of pan.


1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
20 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup Kahlua

1. Bring cream to a simmer in large saucepan. Remove from heat; add chocolate and Kahlua. Whisk until chocolate is melted and the ganache is smooth.
2. Pour 2 cups of the ganache over bottom of crust. Freeze until ganache is firm, about 30 minutes. Reserve remaining ganache; cover and let stand at room temp. to uses later.

**I made the crust and ganache a day before the rest of the cheesecake, so the ganache needed to be warmed in microwave for about 15 seconds and then stirred. I also moved the crust to the fridge after 30 minutes.


4 8-oz. packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. dark rum (I used Kahlua instead)
2 Tbsp. instant espresso powder
2 Tbsp. ground espresso coffee beans
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. light molasses
4 large eggs

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with the rack in the middle of oven.
2. Mix cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl until blended. Beat in flour. Stir rum, instant espresso, coffee, vanilla, and molasses in a small bowl until the instant coffee dissolves; beat into cream cheese mixture. Beat in eggs one at a time.
3. Pour filling over cold ganache in crust. Place cheesecake on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake unti lthe top is brown, puffed, and cracked at edges, 1 hour and 5 minutes. (I added 10-15 minutes.) Transfer to rack. Cool 15 minutes, maintaining oven temperature.


1 1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
Reserved ganache to garnish

1. Whisk sour cream, sugar and vanilla to blend. Pour topping over hot cheesecake, spreading to cover filling completely.
2. Bake until topping is set, about 10 minutes. Transfer cheesecake to rack. Refrigerate hot cheesecake on rack until cool, about 3 hours.
3. Run sharp knife between crust and pan to loosen; release pan sides. Transfer cheesecake to a platter.
4. Spoon reserved ganache into a pastry bag fitted with a small star tip. Pip 6 diagonal lines atop cheesecake, spacing 1-inch apart. Repeat in opposite direction, making lattice design. Garnish with coffee beans if desired. Chill until lattice is firm, at least 6 hours.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

At the beach

Well, it certainly has taken me awhile to post pictures from our time in Kiawah! But here are some of my favorites! We spent lots of time at the beach, in the pool, on the golf course (for the guys), and eating yummy meals! The recipe for one of our favorite beach meals is at the end of the pictures...after all, it is Wednesday!!!

Mimi and the kiddos flying the kite...they loved it! Hadleigh and Uncle Matt swinging and jumping over the waves. It was so much fun to see both Hadleigh and Nathanael really warm up to Uncle Michael and Uncle Matt...Hadleigh always wanted to know exactly where they were at all times! We think Hadleigh is imitating Brent as he was lying on the lounge chair reading. At any rate, a cute first attempt at sunbathing! The nine (almost ten) of us near the dunes. Mimi and Nathanael playing in the waves...he had NO fear of them and didn't mind the salt water in his face at all! This is probably my favorite picture of Hadleigh...just enjoying being in the water...but a safe distance from the waves since she's by herself. Thankfully, she has a little more caution in the water than her brother! And a content Nathanael sitting in the kayak that Mimi and Hadleigh rode in the shallow water!

Lowcountry Boil

4 pounds small red potatoes
5 quarts water
1 (3-ounce) bag of crab boil seasoning
4 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning2 pounds kielbasa or hot smoked link sausage, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
6 ears of corn, halved
4 pounds large fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined optional
Cocktail sauce

1. Add potatoes to large pot, then add 5 quarts water and seasonings. Cover pot and heat to a rolling boil; cook 5 minutes. Add sausage and corn, and return to a boil. Cook 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
2. Add shrimp to stockpot; cook 3 to 4 minutes or until shrimp turn pink. Drain. Serve with cocktail sauce. Serves 12.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

So it goes (or why I really like plastic)

So after vacuuming today (including the kitchen floor), I was organizing my pantry (a part of my kitchen cabinetry design). Yesterday, I bought three small baskets for organizing three messy areas of my pantry: Brent's coffee and coffee accessories, my baking section (bags of nuts, chocolate chips, dried fruit, etc.), and snacks (granola bars, boxes of raisins, snack-size bags, etc.).

So I was reaching to the back of my "baking shelf" and I scooted the baking basket forward a little, which pushed one of those cute little trial-size glass jars of Dickinson's Maple Syrup that I had kept from a weekend away here a few months ago. And of course, it proceeded to fall to the floor with a crash and pool at the base of the cabinets.

Thankfully, Hadleigh and Nathanael were both finishing their lunch in their chairs. But of course, I was barefoot with syrup on the bottom of my feet, the stool I stood on, the floor, the cabinets, the cabinet across from the pantry.

Just so you know, it's one thing to clean up glass...but quite a different ordeal when the glass is in maple syrup. And it's one thing to clean up maple syrup, but quite another when there is glass in the syrup. I mean, glass was sticking to the wall and cabinets because it was coated in syrup. And it's hard to pick up and dispose of sticky pieces of glass. And you can't really wring out a syrupy dishrag when there are many pieces of glass embedded in it. So I just threw away the two dishrags I used. At least they came in a pack of about 15 for $3 from Target. Somewhat disposable, I guess.

So in the end, I managed to get it cleaned up and unstickied. I will go back in a bit to sweep again ... because broken glass on the floor always makes me paranoid. We are a barefoot at home kind of family.

I guess I should be thankful it was the Smuckers Maple Syrup and not the Smuckers Honey, huh?

So, with regard to the maple syrup fiasco, today's recipe is Maple Walnut Muffins, another recipe from my favorite breakfast cookbook, Stone Hill Inn's The Signature Recipe Collection.

Maple Walnut Muffins

1 1/4 cups flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
5 tablespoons butter, softened
2 eggs
1/2 cup maple syrup (Dark Amber or Grade B)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the flour, oats, walnuts, brown sugar, baking powder, soda, and salt in a large bowl.
2. Beat the sour cream, butter, eggs, and maple syrup in a bowl until smooth. Add to the dry ingredients and stir until just moistened.
3. Fill well-greased muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake for 25 minutes or until a pick inserted in center comes out clean.
4. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool completely.

Yields 12 muffins.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

My Favorite Kitchen Tools

A little while ago, my friend Hilary posted her favorite culinary/kitchen tools on her blog and challenged others to do the same. So instead of a recipe today, I'll share with you a few of my favorites (though not necessarily "must-haves"):

1. I love my KitchenAid Mixer...without a doubt, one of my very favorite things in my kitchen.
2. Creme Brulee and Oatmeal Creme Brulee would be tough to make without a culinary torch...Brent bought me mine one Christmas...a special treat to have in your kitchen!
3. A few years ago, I received a Le Creuset Dutch Oven for Christmas and have thoroughly enjoyed using it to cook SO many things. I love the substantial weight of it (it's really heavy!) Can you tell that I like blue???
4. Apple Pie is ever so much more enjoyable to make when you have an Apple Peeler/Corer/Slicer. Lots of people I know have the one by Pampered Chef, but I prefer one that has a suction mount for your counter.
5. Another favorite gift from Brent was my copper whistling tea kettle. I use this every single day, because you know I love my cup of tea! (I have the flat bottomed one pictured from Williams-Sonoma...though I just noticed they
have one made by Le Creuset in Cobalt Blue too...hmmm...can you think of a reason for needing two teakettles???)
6. I received a garlic press as a gift at a wedding shower and WOW. If you've never used fresh garlic in your cooking, don't wait any longer. It transforms the flavor of foods and smells SO good cooking! Minced garlic in a jar just doesn't cut it. And with a garlic press, it's so easy!
7. Somehow, I convinced Brent in our first few weeks of marriage that this trash can (the Allton Stainless Steel Trash Can with liner) was worth $49.95. I've never been a fan of trash cans under the sink (too small and too stinky for such a small offense to those who feel otherwise) and I didn't want one in our pantry which we had at the time. This seemed like a perfect solution...and it was. And Brent admits it now! (Just don't tell him that now you can get them online at Target for $29.99, plus shipping of course.) I love being able to have my hands full of cooking messes and be able to open the trash can with my toe. And Hadleigh and Nathanael like to use the top as a drum...
8. The Joy of Cooking Cookbook was a gift from my mother-in-law, and it is a fabulous resource that I use all the time. I gave one to my sister Katy, and she loves it too! It's the source for my favorite (and almost-famous) scone recipe.

And here are a few things I don't have, but think might be handy in the kitchen!
9. I got an email from Sur La Table a week ago with this new gadget, the SmartShopper Grocery List Organizer. It records, organizes, and prints your grocery list using voice recognition technology. How nice to read your recipe ingredients and have them automatically generated into an organized list.Don't think it's worth the price tag but sounds so nice and convenient! Check it out!
10. Love the idea of this pretty Pie and Cake Basket for carting sweet treats to picnics and get-togethers! Also featured at Sur La Table.
11. How do you store/transport cupcakes? My mom has this old orange rectangular tupperware container that has held millions of cupcakes, brownies, etc....but I have yet to find something for me. I saw this one by Wilton at Linen's and Things in the spring and am still thinking about can also order it online.

And that's it for me...sorry there aren't more links to the products (this post has
already taken me forever to write...silly blogger), but if you're interested in something let me know and I'll let you know where I found it!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Back from the beach

We just got back last night from Kiawah Island (off the coast of Charleston) where we spent a wonderful week with my family. (Pictures will follow soon...just have to find time to put them on the computer. Katy took a TON of gorgeous pictures!)

The last time Brent and I were in Kiawah, I was pregnant with Hadleigh. I only go to the beach during summers when I'm pregnant...we were in Barbados with Nathanael in my tummy. Funny, huh?

But Kiawah was wonderful...a lot cooler than expected most of the time, thanks to a bit of rain...but we still managed to get lots of beach time and the boys had lots of golf time. Hadleigh and Nathanael soaked up the beach and the pool...they both just LOVED it! So glad...

This morning, Hadleigh walked around the house with her little suitcase and told me (when asked) that she was going to see Mimi and Grampa at the beach house. I think they are going to miss their grandparents, aunt and uncles a lot...Nathanael has been saying everyone's names constantly today...and trust me, it is the cutest thing to watch him think and then say the name he's thinking of. Especially Aunt Katy or Kay-lee, as he pronounces it!

Busy getting stuff unpacked, uncluttered, refilled (as in the refrigerator), etc. Will be back soon. I promise.

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