Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Warmest wishes from our family to yours!  We hope your holiday is merry and bright!

Mr and Mrs LikesIt loooooooove Christmas!

Cheers to a beautiful New Year!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Nutty Bacon Cheeseball

Kenny and I have a pretty hectic holiday schedule, like most other people.  Between family and friends, we have parties and functions every weekend in December, sometimes doubling up on plans.  So many of these are potlucks that I have been going through my old favorites to figure out what to bring. Cheeseball is usually a big hit.  I mean, how can you go wrong with cheese and crackers? 

Yes, that's a Pioneer Woman tshirt.  I got it at her book-signing.  I like wearing it to cook.

Nutty Bacon Cheeseball
2 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup milk
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup bleu cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup finely minced green onions
1 jar diced pimento, drained
3/4 cup pecans, chopped, divided
10 slices center-cut bacon, cooked, drained, and crumbled
Salt and pepper

Place cream cheese in a mixing bowl.  Gradually add milk, beating to combine,  Add cheeses, onion, pimentos, half the bacon, and half the nuts.  Beat at med-high speed until well-blended.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Transfer mixture to a large piece of plastic wrap.  Form into a ball and wrap tightly.  refrigerate for at least two hours.  Combine remaining bacon and nuts on a plate.  Remove the plastic wrap from the cheeseball and roll lightly in bacon-nut mixture.  Press remaining mixture onto sparse areas.  Re-wrap in plastic and refrigerate until ready to use.  Serve with crackers, pretzels, or bagel chips.

Om nom nom nom.  

 Betcha can't eat just one!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Brown Butter Toffee Blondies

Rich, chewy, comforting ... these bars are the epitome of yummy.  Martha doesn't mess around, yo.

Brown Butter Toffee Blondies
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, plus more for pan
2 1/4 cups AP flour, plus more for pan
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 cups brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup toffee bits

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour a 9x13 baking pan. In a saucepan over medium heat, cook the butter until it turns golden brown; remove from heat and let cool.  Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.Combine browned butter and both sugars and stir until well combined.  Beat in eggs one at a time.  Beat on med-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add the vanilla and beat until combined.  Add flour mixture, walnuts, and toffee bits.  Mix until thoroughly incorporated and pour into prepared pan.Bake until a cake tester insterted in the center comes out clean, 35-40 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Serve with vanilla ice cream,  Enjoy! Adapted from Martha Stewart Cookies.

I cannot stress enough how good these things are.

So I have been cooking and baking a TON since the wedding.  It's been so fun to use all the great gifts we received, the bulk of which are for the kitchen.  I've been making a solid effort to use the items as much as possible, and I've been doing a pretty good job of busting out the new goods.

::cue chorus of angels::
My Kitchenaid Mixer has been glorious.  I use it a TON and it has a permanent spot on the counter.  Is it any surprise?  If it were legal, I'd marry this thing.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Let's Fall in Love: Wedding Gifts

To take a step back briefly before I step into my dress, Mr LikesIt and I decided to exchange gifts and hand-written notes in the morning.  Seester was tasked with delivering the gift I had chosen for my fiance.  I was so excited about the actual gift, that I didn't give much thought to the hand-off.  Mr LikesIt, on the other hand, saw an opportunity.

Soon after Matt arrived, there was a knock on the door to the girls' suite.  I was around the corner and out of sight, but all I could hear was giggles. "Ummm, Meagan .... I think you need to come over here.

This is what emerged from the hallway:

I was told later that they volunteered for this.  But hey, at least they got good use out of those rented suspenders.

Hilarious.  Azeza, who is friends with these two as well, also thought it was classic.

The boys were very pleased with themselves.  And don't those argyle socks look fab? 

Definitely lightened the mood.

A card with baby animals, with a mushy-sweet note inside, in his awful scrawly handwriting.  Signed, "see you at the church!"
Burberry perfume for me to wear down the aisle. 

Since my gift was not delivered by anyone in their underwear, there was no big entrance for it.  However, I was anxious to hear about Mr LikesIt's reaction.

A mushy-sweet note written on my new "Mrs S" stationary in my loopy, swoopy handwriting.  Signed with "see you at the church!"

I had been plotting this gift for months.

When he was a little boy, Mr LikesIt was obsessed with Legos.  Similar to my own obsession with Barbies, he would play and build for hours on end.  When I saw these cufflinks on Etsy, I knew immediately I had to get them.  I managed to keep it a surprise somehow, even though he almost found them when we were packing things up to bring with us. 

He was really excited, just what I had hoped for.  His mom was also very touched.  Apparently she didn't realize I was paying attention to all those stories she told me about Little Mr LikesIt.

Something Blue for my hubby, too.

In case you missed it:
I bought a dress and completely changed it.
We had a marathon final week of engagement.
I giggled my way through our rehearsal.
Mr LikesIt got grilled at our rehearsal dinner.
The groomsmen ran amok in downtown Springfield. 
The girls got gorgeous.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Boston Cream Mini Cupcakes

Yum.  I love Boston.

I went through a phase where I loved Sandra Lee.  I loved her and her wastey-face tablescapes.  I get the idea of what she does - I don't think everything should have to be gourmet from scratch all the time.  However, now that my kitchen is larger than a shoebox, I have found I don't subscribe as much to convenience-cooking.  Plus, since I have made an effort recently to eliminate many of those "convenient" processed foods, Old Sandy Lee is less and less appealing.  Still, there are occasional gems.  Sometimes, you want sweets, and you want it faster than scratch.  For Dessert Emergencies such as that, there are foods like these.
Boston Cream Mini Cupcakes

1 1/4 cups cold whole milk
1 box (3.4-oz) vanilla instant pudding mix (sugar-free, fat-free)
1 T vanilla extract
24 pre-made mini vanilla cupcakes (from a box, or from scratch, depending on your timeline)
1 cup heavy cream
12 oz semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup powdered sugar

For filling, combine milk, pudding mix, and vanilla in a large bowl.  Refrigerate filling for 15 minutes.  Spoon mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a medium plain tip.  Fill cupcakes by inserting tip into tops of cupcakes and squeezing until full.For ganache, heat heavy cream in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat until steaming.  Do not boil.  Remove saucepan from heat and add chocolate chips and powdered sugar.  Stir with a whisk until smooth.  Spoon, drizzle or spread over cupcakes, or dunk tops directly into ganache.  Refrigerate 1 hour until serving. Adapted from Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee.

See?  Easy peasy.  Now let's get drunk at cocktail time and house some mini cupcakes.