S’mores Party!!!

Over the weekend, James and I threw a s’mores party- just for the fun of it. We got the idea from my bachelorette party, and decided to make it boys-allowed this time. We had so much fun putting things together, together.

I found some gorgeous lanterns at Michaels. We put some in the gazebo, and lining the steps so no one would trip in the dark. Also, we decorated the party area with these beautiful lights:

Pergola at Night

 

Along with your typical graham crackers and marshmallows, homemade chocolate chip cookies we an added bonus for s’mores making.

Lazy susan with graham crackers, marshmallows, and cookies. Extra bowls of marshmallows at either end of the table. 2 sterno-fuel fires, one at each end. An extra platter of s’mores ingredients. Fondue forks-a-plenty. Hershey bars scattered around the table, at least one per person.

S'mores

We ended up moving the appetizers to the same table. I had made bacon-wrapped smokies, which turned out to be the perfect savory alternative for roasting over the little fires. Taco dip was also present, along with strawberry shortcake brought by one of my awesome cousins, and this fabulous cheese plate:

New Zealander, Applewood Smoked Cheddar, Gouda, and Bruschetta Jack

New Zealander, Applewood Smoked Cheddar, Gouda, and Bruschetta Jack

We also had melted Brie. I love Brie.

Drinks included Corona, 2 flavors of Mike’s, and Smirnoff Ice, along with Lemonade, Tea, Water and Sodas.

It was a complete success! I can’t wait to do this again sometime!

S'mores Party Created with Nokia Smart Cam

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Use your Egg-noggin :)

In the last month, we’ve had 4 holiday parties at our house. Now that we’re done with entertaining every other week, today I decided to have a little fun finding uses for leftover eggnog. I know, eggnog isn’t exactly helpful for achieving your January health goals. But still, you hate to let it go to waste, right? Two recipes in particular were definitely worth repeating.

1. Eggnog Bread Pudding

eggnog bread pudding2

Um, who wouldn’t want to wake up to this? Good Morning Beautiful!

For 2 servings:

Whip up 2 eggs, add about 1/2-3/4 cup of eggnog, a splash of rum, nutmeg, cinnamon, and about 2 heaping handfuls of cubed bread leftover from Christmas. Cover and refrigerate overnight if you’re into that sort of thing. Bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes or until set. Serve with maple syrup.

2. Eggnog Ice Cream

Eggnog Ice Cream

The inspiration behind this was a realization that eggnog is almost the same thing as what is found in more complicated frozen custard and gelato recipes. Skip all the whisking over the stove and refrigerating over night.

For 1 Qt.:

Whisk together 2 to 2 1/2 cups eggnog, 1 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream, a splash of rum (about 1/4 cup), about 1/8 tsp of vanilla, a fist full of sugar (about 1/2 cup) and some nutmeg and cinnamon. Pour into ice cream maker. In my Cuisinart, it took about 25 minutes to reach the consistency I wanted. It was soft, and amazing. You could freeze it for a few hours if you want it to be harder.

Ice cream maker

Celebrating Family

We have so much to be thankful for this year. We’re finally married, we’re finally together in our perfect little house, and we’re finally living the life we’ve always dreamed of. I never thought life would be this beautiful.

November morning at home

November morning at our home in Maryland

One of the biggest things we are thankful for this November is our enormously huge family. Each of us brought roughly 30 first cousins with us into this marriage, along with dozens of aunts and uncles. We love our new family more than anything. We’re looking forward to celebrating this with our second annual Day-After-Thanksgiving Christmas Movie Night.

Last year, we rounded up the cousins/aunts/uncles. Everyone brought their leftover desserts from Thanksgiving (which was a LOT of food).  I made my mom’s apple cider and my Italian grandmother’s Pastorelli cookies, both of which were a big hit with James’s family. The movie list? We went with family favorites: Charlie Brown’s Christmas and Elf.

It was the most fun I have ever had at a party that I was hosting. It was simple to put together and tons of fun for all involved. We can’t wait to do it again this year!

Smith Island Cake -A.K.A. Why I love Maryland

Not many people outside of Maryland have ever had it. In fact, with the exception of people on the Eastern Shore, not many Marylanders have had it. Smith Island Cake (also known, along with crabs, as God’s Gift to Maryland) looks like this:

Smith Island Cake, as pictured in National Geographic

8-15 layers of yellow cake, with fudgey chocolate icing in between. Seriously, this is the richest cake you’ll ever taste. It’s AMAZING!

They actually make it by cooking each layer separately in its own cake pan, like 8-10 round cake pans with a tablespoon or two of batter in them. Named in 2008 as the official dessert of the State of Maryland, It comes from Smith Island (go figure), a remote island in the Chesapeake Bay that is only accessible by boat. The remoteness and inaccessibility of the island have made the place somewhat of a time capsule. Discovered by John Smith in the 1600s, the people of Smith Island still retain a sort of Elizabethan dialect, as well as an accent that separates them from the rest of Maryland.

Surprisingly, right in the middle of Maryland where most Marylanders live (between DC and Baltimore), Smith Island Cake is almost impossible to find. Luckily for the rest of the world, you can order it online at www.smithislandbakingco.com and have it shipped to your door in 2 days or less. I think I know what I want for my birthday…

My Birthday Present

My birthday was this past week, and it was AWESOME. Seriously, I felt like a kid again. In the morning, James took me to the National Gallery of Art. I love that place. I actually minored in Art History. I’ve loved the NGA since I went there in Kindergarten and saw Renoir’s Girl with a Watering Can.

Renoir's Girl with a Watering Can

Afterwards, we picked up margaritas and Mexican take out for dinner. On our way home, we picked up marshmallows, chocolate bars, and graham crackers.

As soon as we got back to my house, James let me open my present. He gave me a mini hibachi grill!

5 inches of awesomeness

I was so excited! He got me fondue forks and fuel to complete the set. We roasted marshmallows in the living room and made s’mores. It was so much fun! If you don’t have a mini hibachi, get one. They’re amazing!