Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Beautiful Baby Shower

On Saturday we drove down to Charlottesville, Virgina for my new cousin in law Christie's baby shower. Little baby Avery is coming this Fall and we are all so excited!

The shower was held at the same bed and breakfast where Christie had her wedding and I fell in love with The Highmeadows Vinyard Inn the moment I pulled up. The house is periwinkle blue with lime green shutters and bright pink doors. Peacocks (and chickens) actually roam in the garden and patio areas while just to the right there is a beautiful vineyard landscape with rows of vines.

Of course in true "That's so Michelle" fashion, I forgot my camera (doh!) but I did my best with my phone. I couldn't help myself.  Every little detail was Pinterest worthy. I must have taken 200 photos with my tired, old Android.

Here is the happy mom to be (she was glowing) and her mom, grandma and sister. Such lovely ladies and Avery is going to be so loved! 

Every room in the house felt like it was out of Southern Living. Such detail to each and every space. Every corner, every hallway and every table and chair.

I am in love with (and want to marry) this chair. Anyone know where can I buy this chair?

These gorgeous and sparkling cupcakes below came from a family friend who picked them up in Roanoke.

While eating our cupcakes someone mentioned another cupcake shop in Charlottesville that sells Lemon Drop cupcakes that supposedly induce labor! How in the world?!

Maybe it's the lemon zest?

Remember my Peach and Raspberry Sangria from yesterday? Well guess where I got the idea? Yup. I have to admit though, I think their recipe was better. I will have to get more details next time I see them.

The baked brie cheese with caramelized pecans served with sugar-cinnamon pita points still has my mouth watering and was my favorite from the tasty summer menu.  But we all know how I feel about cheese!

I have a ton of other photos that I posted on Instagram (check them out and follow me here).

Congrats to Christie and family, we can't wait to meet the babe :)

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Monday, July 30, 2012

Peach and Raspberry Sangria

Sunny, summer, Sundays are what I live for lately. I love mid-afternoons on the patio with a cold pitcher of fruity Sangria and your whole day still ahead of you.

I sat outside yesterday with my glass of sangria and just took a few deep breaths . . . before I knew it I was smiling, just because it felt good. 

Later we had our friends Matt and Sean over for dinner, they brought their darling little baby girl Natalie (I adore her).

She held on to our pointer fingers with her little hands and we helped her practice walking around our condo. We laughed and ate pasta and drank more sangria (Natalie had banana puffs).

I got to catch up with Sean about wedding stuff and we talked about blogs. (Check out Sean's blog here)
We are thinking about attending a bloggers conference. Does anyone know of any good ones coming up?

It was a good Sunday. Fresh peaches and sweet raspberries, pasta and beautiful laughing babies. Doesn't get much better than that.

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Peach and Raspberry Sangria
2 (750 ml) bottles Riesling wine
1/2 cup peach schnapps
1 cup pink lemonade (or any juice of choice)
3 ripe peaches, cut into wedges
2 small plastic containers of fresh raspberries

1. Cut your peaches and place them in a large pitcher, pour one container of raspberries on top. Add about 1 and a half bottles of your Riesling wine. 

2. Add your 1/2 cup peach schnapps and 1 cup pink lemonade.

3. Pour your 2nd container of raspberries into a zip lock bag and smoosh them up until you have what looks like raspberry jelly. Pour the smooshed raspberries into your pitcher. Mix and enjoy!

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Friday, July 27, 2012


Okay, it's offical. I am obsessed. Instagram is my new "thing."

I am thinking of posting a lot more of my foodie photos using Instagram. I also want to use it to share little bit more of me outside of the food I make.

Are you on Instagram? Click here to follow my photos!

and Happy Friday!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Pasta with Fresh Basil, Cherry Tomatoes and Brie Cheese

We have been indulging a little bit more since the wedding diet is over. My aunt sent me an email a few weeks ago telling me she made this for dinner recently and I couldn't get it out of my head, she called it "sinful."

It reminds me of something that Elizabeth Gilbert would have eaten in Italy in her book Eat, Pray, Love. Decadent and delicious.

Eat, Pray, Love is one of those books that I wish I never read, so I can read it for the first time all over again. There isn't one part of that book that I didn't love. I devoured it.

This dish awakens all the same senses that Gilbert's book did when she was in Italy. The smell of fresh basil, the sweetness of ripe cherry tomatoes. Flavorful olive oil and garlic that permeates through the whole house.

... and then to top that with soft, buttery but distinct Brie cheese that really makes this dish what it is,  wow, just wow. Delizioso

If I haven't sold you already, I initially made this dish for some friends that were going to come over for dinner. We ended up needing to reschedule, but Nick asked if I could make this again anyway when they come this weekend. I have no problem with that.

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Pasta with Fresh Basil, Cherry Tomatoes and Brie Cheese

1 8oz box linguine
1 8oz. (or about) triangle of Brie Cheese, let harden in the fridge
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 handful of fresh basil

1. Boil your water with salt, add pasta, cook until aldente (about 9-11 minutes). Test it to make sure it's just right.

2. Chop your cherry tomatoes in quarters or halves.

3. Chop your fresh basil (take a deep breath in) and add it to your tomatoes.

4. Chop your hardened Brie cheese into little chunks and add it to your tomatoes and basil.

5.  Chop your garlic and add it to your 1/4 cup olive oil. (I cheat a little and sometimes microwave my olive oil and garlic for about 30 seconds so the garlic flavors will release into warmed olive oil, without burning it or dirtying a pan) toss into your tomatoes and basil and cheese.

5. When the pasta is done add all ingredients and toss gently. Serve right away while warm.

“There’s another wonderful Italian expression: l’arte d’arrangiarsi -- the art of making something out of nothing. The art of turning a few simple ingredients into a feast, or a few gathered friends into a festival. Anyone with a talent for happiness can do this, not only the rich.”
“I walked home to my apartment and soft-boiled a pair of fresh brown eggs for my lunch.  I peeled the eggs and arranged them on a plate beside the seven stalks of the asparagus (which were so slim and snappy they didn’t need to be cooked at all). I put some olives on the plate, too, and the four knobs of goat cheese I’d picked up yesterday from the formaggeria down the street, and two slices of pink, oily salmon.  For dessert– a lovely peach, which the woman at the market had given to me for free and which was still warm from the Roman sunlight. For the longest time I couldn’t even touch this food because it was such a masterpiece of lunch, a true expression of the art of making something out of nothing.” -- Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

Monday, July 23, 2012

Lime in the Coconut Jello Shots

"You put the lime in the coconut and drink um both up

You put the lime in the coconut and drink um both up"

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Yeah I pretty much sang that the whole time I made these . . .Even though I really put the coconut in the lime, but who cares right?

Does anyone know what that song really means?  It's catchy that's for sure.

I am home sick today with a really bad sore throat, and if the song lyrics ring true, I should put the lime in the coconut and I'll feel better.  I some how doubt that :)

Lime in the Coconut Jello Shots
7 limes (makes 28 shots)
1 can coconut milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup Pinnacle Whipped Vodka
2 packets of Knox gelatin

(For a kid friendly, non-alcoholic version just use 1 cup cold water instead of vodka)

1. Like with the other jello shots in orange, lemons and limes, you hollow out the rind first. With limes they are strong enough that you can carefully take a paring knife and score around the insides carefully to loosen the citrus and then just flip them inside out and pull out the fruit.

The next step is to make the coconut jello. I loooooove coconut jello. Well I really love anything coconut so that might be why.

2. Take 1/2 cup coconut milk (you will need to stir the coconut milk in the can, it solidifies at the top) and 1/2 cup water and poor it into a medium sauce pan.

3. Sprinkle 2 packets of Knox gelatin on top and let it sit for one minute, then turn on medium heat and stir until dissolved. Add 1/4 cup sugar and heat until dissolved.

Turn off the heat and wait until the mixture is just warm and then add 1 cup of vodka (I used Pinnacle Whipped). Pour into lime rinds. Save any left over jello to top off the limes later. Jello shrinks and you don't want too much space left in the rinds.

4. Refrigerate overnight and the slice your halves into quarters. I toasted some coconut (optional) and placed half of a real lime on my serving plate. I like to let people know with visual cues what they are about to consume.

My only after thought with this jello shot recipe is that I still don't really like the flavor that the lime rinds absorb into the jello. It's very bitter and I think it brings out the vodka instead of masking it.

I still prefer oranges and lemons for this type of jello shot. (Everyone at the party loved them though!)

Also I made a coconut milk and lime smoothie after with the left overs and it was delish!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Let Them Eat Cake in Mason Jars!

Here is my cake and my wedding favors. We passed around heart shaped sparklers as well, the kids loved them.

My Aunt Shannon made the cake and it was not only gorgeous (can you believe we didn't buy this from a bakery?) but it was delicious too. Real butter cream frosting, strawberries macerated in Triple Sec and yellow cake. She really put a lot of love and care into making this cake beautiful. 

The favors, made by my mom, were little cakes in a mason jars for our guests to take to go. We had a lot of people traveling by car (great distances) and I heard from so many people that it was the perfect treat for later.

They were banana rum cakes with fresh blueberries and strawberries -- totally adorable and a great idea. I get a lot of my creativity and love for cooking and baking from my mom. I was very lucky to have her help!

Since we had a pretty small DIY wedding it was help from family with things like this that really made a difference.

We had cake after an early lunch at The Black Pelican, a restaurant in the Outer Banks area that Nick's grandparents love. It was nothing fancy, but it meant a lot to us to be able to sit down with the people we love and feed them!

Our photographer was only at our sunrise ceremony so these are some photos that friends took.

Cutting the cake was one of my favorite parts of the luncheon/brunch. My nerves were finally starting to subside and I was able to breathe again. Have I mentioned how nervous I was the whole time? I was hardly myself.

I wasn't nervous to marry him, that was the one thing I was sure of, so I am not sure why I was such a frazzled mess. Sigh ...

I can't wait to share our photos with you when they come in and more tips about what worked out well and what I would do differently! Should only be another week or so.

Here are some great recipes for cakes in mason jars.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

50 Shades of Grey, Salmon Tartare

I finally got to 50 Shades of Grey: 50 Shades Darker.  I read it everyday on the Metro on the way into work (folding back the book cover as I turn each page so no one sees it of course).

I personally like book two better than book one. Masked balls, pool tables, boats . . . mmm hmmm. I can't help it but I see Christian Grey as Christian Bale in my head. He's too old, I know. I guess that means I am getting old too.

I was totally excited (wink, wink) that E.L. James wrote out the menu from the masked ball/charity event.  Immediately I knew I had to make something from it and I love just about every tartare.  

Course One
Salmon tartare
Crème fraiche and marinated cucumber
Toasted brioche
Alban Estate Roussanne 2006

The girls are coming over to lay by the pool with me tomorrow and I can't wait to make it for them as a light lunch. It's quick and easy (the cucumber is so good with the salty salmon) and perfect for the occasion since we will probably gossip about the book anyway.

We have talked briefly about a masked ball/party for New Years Eve this year too. Maybe I will recreate the whole menu then. I think we all needed some Fifty in our lives don't you?

I know my husband's not complaining. (There it is . . . husband. I said it)

50 Shades of Grey Salmon Tartare (makes 12-24 servings)
8 oz smoked salmon
1 small cucumber
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar (less harsh than regular vinegar, worth the purchase)
2 tablespoons capers
1 tablespoon diced red onion
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pinch salt
1 small container creme fraiche or Philadelphia Creme (I used the Lemon and Herb cooking creme)
1 loaf french bread

1. Peel and slice your cucmber, place in a small bowl with your rice wine vinegar and pinch of salt. Toss and then let it marinate in the refrigerator.

2. Chop your salmon into small strips or cubes and dice your red onion. Mix in a larger bowl with your lemon juice, olive oil and capers.

3. Slice your french bread and toast it lightly. Let your bread cool down before you assemble.

4. Top each slice with a cucumber, then a dollop of creme fraiche and then the salmon tartare. I used my fingers to place the salmon tartare on neatly.

Bon Appétit, laters baby.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

We did it! Some Early Photos and Wedding Afterthoughts

I have so much to tell you I don't even know where to start! I have a few blogs planned over the next few weeks about the wedding but I am waiting for my professional photos (they will be amazing) to come in before I post them.

Until then, I put together this little collage with some pictures friends took. The sunrise was a gorgeous light blue, pink and orange. The morning was quiet and cool (or as cool as it could be during an intense heat wave) and the sound of  waves crashing onto the beach was better than any rendition of Pachelbel's Canon.

Like so many brides, in retrospect there are a million things I would have done differently and I eventually want to share those things with you because I wish someone would have told me (and that I would have listened).

I feel like I am just now able to look at photos from friends and family and not see every little flaw in the way my hair and make up looked or the way I wanted the flowers etc etc. I drove my self insane, seriously I was crazy. (Did anyone else feel like they were out of their own body?)

But today . . . today I can breathe again and I am happy. Very happy. I am thinking how cute it was that a morning ATV patrol designated to saving sea turtles drove by during the ceremony.

I'm loving that as the sun was rising, you could still see the moon setting.

I am dying to share video with you and tell you more about our reverend and why he was the best thing that happened to our ceremony!

. . . and I can't wait to show you more of the mini cakes in a jar that my mom made as our wedding favors and gorgeous cake my aunt made for our brunch.

More soon . . .

P.S. So much love for all of my friends and family who made it all the way down to North Carolina for the wedding. My heart is overflowing with appreciation and joy that you were there with us! I can't say it enough.
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