Monday, May 17, 2010

graduation

This weekend we went back to Virginia for Michael's graduation from law school. It was a quick weekend, but we tried to fit it all in! Our first stop after we rolled into town was Wegmans...oh, how I miss that place. We found lots of goodies for the graduation party and Reese got to roll around the store in her new-found favorite car cart with two of her buddies.
are we having fun yet, or what?!
The graduation ceremony was really nice. The speakers were interesting and kept their comments short and sweet--what more could you ask for? Michael looked so handsome in his cap and gown...Reese especially liked the tassel.



these boys can be so silly when they get together!

oh that Reese. isn't she a hoot?

After the ceremony we had some friends over for a graduation party. It was so nice to have so many friends and family over to help celebrate such an achievement...although Michael did what he could to shift the attention away from him. We had bbq and brats on the grill, and I made some goodies to go along with the spread. Peanut Butter Granola bars and Rice Krispies on steroids, two of my go-to's, were on the menu, along with some graduation cap cupcakes.
I also made some toffee cookie bars that I saw Giada make, and had been anxious to try. They were fabulous and the first of the goodies to go. (recipe to follow)
pretty cute, if I do say so myself.
Reese was so happy to be reunited with her best friends! It was such a fun weekend that was over much too quickly. We are so proud of Michael for being such a champ! It's a bit hard to believe that it's all over, but we are pretty excited that it is.


To make the Mascarpone chocolate Toffee Bars, here's what you'll need:

1 pound refrigerated sugar cookie dough
2 (1.4-ounces) Skor bars, coarsely chopped, divided
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 cup (8 ounces) mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spray a 7 by 10 3/4-inch nonstick baking pan with vegetable cooking spray. Lay a 6 by 18-inch piece of parchment paper in the pan, allowing the excess paper to overhang the sides. Spray the parchment paper lightly with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, combine the cookie dough, 1/2 of the chopped chocolate-toffee candy pieces and vanilla extract. Using damp fingers, gently press the dough into the prepared pan. Using the tines of a fork, prick the dough all over. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes until the crust is lightly browned. Cool for 15 minutes.

Place the chocolate chips and vegetable oil in a medium bowl. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir until the chocolate has melted. Cool the chocolate mixture for 10 minutes. Whisk in the mascarpone cheese until the mixture is smooth. Using a spatula, spread the chocolate mixture over the cooled crust. Sprinkle the remaining chocolate-toffee candy pieces and sliced almonds over the chocolate mixture. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours until the chocolate layer is firm.

Peel off the parchment paper and cut into bars. Serve at room temperature. This recipe is so easy and delicious--you'll love it!

Note: To toast almonds, arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven for 8 to 10 minutes until lightly browned.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

big weekend

We started our weekend with a birthday celebration for Michael! Reese was so excited to help me make a birthday cake for him. All week long we talked about what kind of cake Daddy should have--Reese thought it should be pink, naturally. Luckily, Michael requested a strawberry cake, so pink it was!

Recently, Reese has found a new interest in helping me bake. She loves to pull a chair over and stand with me by the KitchenAid and pour in one ingredient after another. And, of course, her favorite part is tasting!




Reese helped me make the cake before her nap and the frosting after. She insisted that she sleep in her apron that afternoon. The cake was delicious and I have never been prouder of little Reese!

The next day, we headed to Atlanta to see what we could see. Ever since I read this post on Bakerella's website, I could not wait to plan a trip to Atlanta to go to Sublime and try these fabulous-looking doughnuts! You know how I feel about cupcakes...but to try doughnuts in cupcake-like flavors?! So exciting! We called some friends in Atlanta to meet us to sample as many of these delicious doughnuts as we could handle. I can't believe we didn't take any pictures, but the doughnuts were fabulous!!! We tried Fresh Strawberries n' Creme, Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, Orange Dream Star (Reese picked this one and still talks about the star doughnuts!), Frosted Croissant, S'mores, and Cookies n' Cream (Oreo). My favorite was the Oreo doughnut, but what can I say, I'm a sucker for anything with Oreos! There were a couple that I didn't get to try this time around and my mouth waters when I think about going back!

After doughnuts, we went to the Centennial Olympic Park. We couldn't have asked for better weather. It had been in the 90s for a few days before, but on Saturday it was just sunny with a cool breeze. The perfect spring day! We brought a suit for Reese and let her run around and play in the sprayground. She still isn't quite down with actually running into the fountains, but she does love to stand on the sideline and watch everyone else getting wet.

And she just loves the new bathing suit she picked out with the Monkey girl!


We rounded out the day with a trip to Flip Burger, another restaurant on my radar of places to try. The chef and creative director is Richard Blais, a former contestant of Top Chef: Chicago. I'm pretty sure he was the first runner up of that season and was really fun to watch--he always made amazing looking and sounding dishes. So, naturally, I was really excited to eat at one of his restaurants. And it was fabulous!!! If a traditional burger is what you want, then you can certainly find it there. But the menu also offers such creations as an ossobuco burger, a shrimp burger, a chorizo burger, and a po boyger. And they have liquid nitrogen milkshakes! The four of us each got a different burger and the three that I tasted were excellent! I found out that there is also a Flip Burger in Birmingham (about an hour closer to us) and I cannot wait to go back!

We made it home from Atlanta just in time to finish our talks for church the next day...in the Spanish Sacrament meeting. Not my first choice of things to do on Mother's Day, especially since I don't speak Spanish, but that is another story for another post. In the words of Michael, "It went better than I thought it would." Thanks. But I did come home from church that day with two roses, two chocolate covered strawberries and a half dozen chocolate dipped sugar cookies left over from Primary. Not a bad way to round of the weekend!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

ABC's

video
This ABCs toy is the best $10 I've ever spent (thank you, Black Friday and thank you, Jessica)! Reese loves it. At first, all she wanted to do was take all the letters off the fridge and throw them on the floor. Now, she has gotten the hang of learning the letters and learning the sounds that they make. She usually comes in the kitchen while I am making dinner or doing dishes and touches whatever letter is in the player and then walks right back out. Sometimes she will stay longer and play with a few letters and sing along. Occasionally, Reese comes in the kitchen and hits the button that plays the ABCs song over and over: "A, a, a, a, a, a, a, a, a, a, b, c...a, a, a, b, c" and I want to pull my hair out. But I still like this toy and love to see Reese enjoying it and singing along with it.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

gleek, jr.

video

Reese loves the Glee soundtracks as much as I do! She definitely has her favorites and asks to listen to them over and over (and over). Her first favorite was "Gradidy" (or "Defying Gravity") and she wanted to listed to it nonstop. Her latest favorite is "Colors" (or "True Colors") and last week she started singing along. I tried so hard not to giggle so she wouldn't stop!
video
(this video got cut off when the camera ran out of memory space...but I thought it was cute enough to share)