Monday, February 28, 2011

Let's Fall in Love: Boys Roll Out

From my understanding, it doesn't take a lot of time to put on a tuxedo.  Mr LikesIt and his friends had made the most of their time before the ceremony, mostly with a dance party and other shenanigans, including prank calling my mother.  Somewhere in all of that, they managed to all get dressed.

The day of the wedding was also a big day for the Mizzou fans in the wedding party (Illinois fans too, but I'm not counting them).  It was the opening football game for the Tigers, playing the Illini in the annual Arch Rivals showdown.  Being that Springfield is in the heart of the U of I fan-base, we made the silly assumption that the 11 am kickoff would be available in the hotel suites.  Alas, we were incorrect.  The boys decided to take to to streets to get access to the game.  Once the trolley arrived, they camped out, listening to the game and waiting for it to be time to head to the church.

Beers were had.  Football was played.  Antics were enacted.  Somewhere in between all of that, the groomsmen completed their very important job of escorting Mr LikesIt to the church ... on time and everything.  (And bee tee dubs, Mizzou won, in case you're curious.  We consider it fortuitous.)

 With half the wedding party on site and suited up, it was time to snap some quick portraits while the trolley circled back to the hotel for me and mine. 

But first, bouts were acquired. 
Matt, for obvious reasons, is a pro at pinning boutinnieres.  He's also handy at fixing broken bridesmaid jewelry.  Hire him immediately, y'all.  Also, he's single.  I have his number, ladies.  *eyebrow waggle*

Anyway, thanks to Matt and Christy, wife of groomsman Justin, everyone was properly floraled for the day.

Some were more excited for the flowers than others.

Since we opted not to see each other until the 3:30 ceremony, time would be of the essence afterward.  Up next, Mr LikesIt and the boys strut their stuff for the camera.

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
We exchanged mushy wedding-day gifts
The guys got fancy and then got dancy. 
I became a Bride
There was a first First Look.
I shared my Somethings.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Peanut Butter Crunch Cookies

Who doesn't love cookies?  Usually when I have the urge to bake, I flip straight to the cake or brownies section of my recipe collection.  But sometimes, you just want cookies.

Peanut Butter Crunch Cookies
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 egg
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups Rice Krispies cereal
1/2 cup chopped honey-roasted peanuts

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Cream the butter and sugars together in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Lower to medium speed and add egg, peanut butter, and vanilla.  Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt.  Add to butter mixture on low speed.  Beat until incorporated.  Fold in Rice Krispies and peanuts.  Form dough into 1 1/2" balls.  Place on greased cookie sheets.  Bake 12 minutes, or until golden brown.  Let cool on cookie sheets for 5 minutes and then remove to cooling racks.  Adapted from Real Simple.
Kenny, who love love loves peanut butter, could have eaten his weight in these, I think.  Super delicious, and very addictive.  Consider yourself warned.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Angel Chicken

When something goes right in the crockpot, I usually see it as an exception rather than the rule.  I don't know what it is, but most things that go into the slow cooker do not come out tasty.  But exceptions are nice.

 Angel Chicken
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup light chive and onion cream cheese
1/4 cup white wine (Reisling ... + more to marinate the chef)
1 package garlic and herb-flavored salad dressing mix
1 can undiluted cream of mushroom soup
2 T unsalted butter

Prepare crockpot with nonstick spray.  Place chicken in the bottom.  In a microwave-safe bowl, mix together cream cheese, mushroom soup, and butter.  Microwave two minutes to soften, stir to blend.  Mix in dressing package and wine.  Pour mixtureover chicken.  Cook 4-6 hours on low.  One hour before serving, remove chicken from crockpot and cut into small pieces.  Serve chicken and sauce over mashed potatoes or whole wheat pasta.
It's not pretty food, but my it is tasty.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Let's Fall in Love: Somethings ...

I love wedding traditions.  All of them.  Especially ones where I had the opportunity to be sentimental and creative.  I am a firm believer that "traditional" does not equal "cookie cutter" as far as wedding goes.  I spent a lot of time during planning focused on one of my favorite traditions, and making it very personal: my Somethings.

Something Old ...

Vintage earrings and pearl bubble cocktail ring.

Grandma B's embroidered hankie.  "S" for her maiden name, which her mother gave her.  I am sad to not have better photos of it, but suffice to say it came in handy during the ceremony.  I have it framed in our bedroom now. (family photo)

Something New ...
All the make-up that Azeza used to make me pretty and glowy.

 And of course that whole dress-that-I-bought-and-completely-changed-into-something-new thing.

Something Borrowed ...
Mom's veil.

And thirty-eight buttons from her wedding dress.

Both something old and borrowed, the heart-shaped pendant I wore belongs to my Grandma B as well.  The diamonds are from her original wedding set from my grandfather, who passed away before I started dating Mr LikesIt.  My aunt wore it on her wedding day.  My sister and two cousins will, too someday. 

Something Blue ...

For me and for Mr LikesIt.

I don't have a photo of it, but I also borrowed a small white clutch from my friend, Nicole, who had gotten married just a few months before.  We had exchanged endless emails about our respective weddings, and I wanted her to be a part of it somehow, even though she lives on the other side of the country and couldn't attend.  I was able to pass it along to the next of our friends getting married as well, so the tradition lives on. 

And isn't that the best part of traditions?

What were your Somethings?
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
We exchanged mushy wedding-day gifts
The guys got fancy and then got dancy. 
I became a Bride
There was a first First Look.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Spinach-Stuffed Chicken Breast

I have a finely tuned system to tell if a recipe is something I will make again: Kenny.  I cook and plate the food, and deliver it to him (on the coffee table until recently, when we finally acquired a kitchen table we actually keep clear enough to use for dining).  I take a few bites and wait for his reaction.  If something is really good, I will get an immediate "Oh my."  Slightly lower on the scale is a smile and a nod.  If I have to ask "Make again?" chances are that it's a no - good enough for dinner, but not worth a second try.  There have been a few rare (albeit memorable) occasions when we had to abandon ship and order Jimmy John's.  But I am not here to talk about the fails.

It's always a good sign for a recipe when Kenny is impressed watching me put it together.  Spinach-stuffed chicken is one of those meals.  He gets nosy and curious and wants to know what I'm doing, especially when the bacon comes out.  It's actually a very simple meal to put together, but one of those that looks fairly complicated and impressive.  It's a husband-pleaser, at least.

 Spinach-Stuffed Chicken Breast
 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup reduced-fat feta cheese, crumbled
2 cloves garlic (or 1T bottled minced garlic)
1/2 10-oz package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
8 slices center-cut bacon

In a medium bowl, mix mayo, spinach, feta, and garlic until well blended.  Set aside.  Carefully butterfly chicken breasts, making sure not to cut all the way through.  Spoon spinach mixture into the slit pocket you have just created.  Wrap each breast with two slices of bacon and secure with toothpicks.  Placed in a shallow backing dish coated with nonstick spray.  Cover and bake at 375 degrees for one hour, or until cooked through.  Let rest 2 minutes before serving.  
See? Super easy.  This is simple enough for a weeknight meal, but it's tasty enough to feel like a special occasion.  Kenny says "oh my!"

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Let's Fall in Love: The First First Look

Dressed and ready.

It had been a whirlwind of a morning.  Dresses and make up were properly applied.  I was in my dress and the transformation to Bride was nearly complete.  Glancing at the bedside clock in the hotel room where my girlfriends and I crowded together, pulling at the layers of tulle under my dress, the boys were on the trolley and on their way for the first round of photos at the church.  The trolley would be back for us shortly.  My nerves had calmed temporarily, flowing into pure giddiness for the time being.  My wedding countdown, having been counted in years, then months for so long, was ticking down to minutes, really.  Just a short time until I got to see my groom.


Mr LikesIt and I decided early on in planning to keep to tradition and not have a First Look.  He is a romantic, old-fashioned guy, and was adamant that his first sight of me to be when the church doors opened.  But Mr LikesIt was not the only man waiting to see me, of course.  A very important reveal was reserved for the first man I ever loved. 

And I made him wait a really long time.

My mom called him over.  The anticipation was killing me.  My dad is a quiet man, quick to laugh or make a joke, and slow to get upset or angry.  He's not one to get overly emotional, but I was dying to see how he would handle seeing his youngest all done up in wedding finery.  He was touched when he saw me try on my mom's veil months before, but I wasn't sure what to expect.

I should have known.
 After knowing him for 27 years, I can tell you that there are few things truer to my father than this. We have family albums FULL of photos just like this.  Nerd.

He might have made faces and cracked jokes, but I still saw tears in his eyes.
Busted, Daddy-O.

We had a family moment. He may or may not have told another cheesy Dad joke.

He wouldn't be my Daddy-O if he didn't.

See?  Kate thought it was funny.

It was time for Mom and Dad  to head to the church and make sure everything was set for guests to start arriving.  But first, I needed Mom's help for one more thing, putting on my veil.  Her veil?  Our veil? THE veil!  I was more excited to wear it than any other item on the wedding day.

 When I was little, my mom had this thing she did with me.  After every bath-time, clothes-changing, and face-wiping, she would smile down at the little cabbage patch face smiling up at her from its surrounding towel, jammies, or peanut butter sandwich and she would say "There's my Meagan."  I have no idea if she did this just for me, or if she had something like it for my sister too, or if she even remembers doing it time and time again. 

But then she helped me put the veil on and said, "There's my Meagan."  I don't know if she even realized she said it.  It made me infinitely happy to hear it on my wedding day.  Sort of full circle, no?

With the dress on and the veil in place, it was time for the girls to get ready for our pre-ceremony portraits.  But first, just one more first look.  Up until now, everyone had a chance to see me in my finery.  My hair and make up were perfect.  Mom's veil and Grandma's necklace were in place.  Everyone in the room had a chance to see the whole package ... except for me.

As everyone shuffled their things together and got ready to go down to the hotel lobby for photos, I put on some of the perfume that Mr LikesIt had gifted me earlier.

Most of the maids were on their way down the hall towards the elevators, making sure our path was groom-free.  I had a brief moment to myself, and I planted myself in front of the mirror.  I had dreamed of this moment since I was a very little girl, of what I would look like as a bride on my wedding day.  I felt like I was playing dress-up all over again. 

Meagan likes it.

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
We exchanged mushy wedding-day gifts
The guys got fancy and then got dancy. 
I became a Bride.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Hunkered down.

Bring it, Snowpocalypse.
Snuggie shirt, comfy bed, lovey bear. We're ready for anything.

Prepare to hunker ... now bring me a snack.