Thoughts4Thursday : How I Got Where I'm Going...

What do you want to be when you grow up?
What is your major?
What are you doing after graduation?
Ohhh, I HATED those questions!

Why, you ask?
Well, that's because
I had no idea
what I wanted to do, major in
or was even interested in!

All I knew was that I
hated math
couldn't work retail anymore
and loved good food!

So, the natural progression
towards culinary school
happened ... but,
not before 3 key events:


3.  While I was in college, I worked in several different retail stores including American Eagle, Victoria Secret and Books-A-Million. I LOVED working at AE - my co-workers were great, the management was super laid back and I got a 60% discount on clothes! Oh heck yes!! But, when management changed hands to a hormonal psycho, I headed over to VS. Wow; possibly the worst company to work for!! They're pressure tactics were more than I could handle and I didn't stay there long. {Yea, next time the girl checking you out keeps on and on about their credit card, don't blame her. She's just trying to keep her job.} I ended up at Books-A-Million and as an English major at the time, it only seemed like the perfect fit! Honestly, it wasn't that terrible {not anything like VS} - but after dealing with overly rude tourists year in and year out + an 80 year old stalker {that's a story for another time}, I decided I needed to find something that more fitted my personality! I'm just not perky!


2.  Okay, this is a ridiculously sad story, that I debated even sharing because it's just THAT embarrassing! I want to start with the statement that I would love nothing more than to be a math nerd. People with the kind of brain that can not only understand Calculus, but also USE it are like superheros to me ... really, I'm like totally jealous! So, I took my first ever Calculus course in my 3rd semester of college. I attended every class for three weeks ... took extensive notes ... even completed homework and studied for the first test. I remember sitting down at my desk the morning of, looking down at the symbols on the quiz paper and going to work on it. I filled in every blank with an answer I believed to be true and turned it in thinking I hadn't done half bad. Well, I couldn't have been any.more.wrong - the next class period started with the professor handing out our grades, mine being a big, fat goose egg! Oh, yeah...I told you it was embarrassing! I filled in every single blank on that paper and received a Z-E-R-O! At that moment, I stood from my seat, politely excused myself and marched right down to my adviser's office and changed my major to anything that didn't require Calculus. {I was a German major who went to Political Science with a minor in German [which required said Calc class] ... changed to English for 3 more semesters and ultimately ended at Culinary. Long road, but so worth it!}


1.  And, the number one reason I ultimately needed culinary in my life was because food went from simply sustaining my life to being my life. After graduating high school, I flew off to Europe to learn more about the German culture and language ... I ended up learning what food and drink did for friends. So much revolved around food there - festivals, holidays, celebrations, sorrows and even just the every day lunch hour. {Which was 2 hours long!} I learned a lot about hospitality over there and the healing power of gathering around a long, 14 person table to share family-style dishes, luke-warm beer and stories. We Americans at the school I attended often laughed at how many national holidays Germany had, but looking back they knew how to live! And, food was front and center for each one - Europe taught me the level of importance food has in so many people's lives. There's really nothing out there more attractive than coming together with friends for good food and fun times!

I am so very grateful
for each moment
that led me to this profession!

I couldn't imagine doing anything else!


ROAAAARIN' Birthday Party

We're going back
Waaaayyy back....
to the time of

Last weekend, I was a part of a
Birthday Party,
completed by a prehistoric cake!

This was my Vanilla Bean Confetti Cake topped with Vanilla Buttercream. I did an "airbrushed"/textured design on the outside to create a natural setting for the bold dinos. The top layer was shaved down to mimic an erupting volcano.

The palm trees were edible, made from Chocolate Wafer Sticks and a little green Marshmallow Fondant. The dinos were molded out of White Chocolate and hand painted to match the party's color scheme. See that dirt? Yep, that was edible as well! I mixed crushed Chocolate Teddy Grahams along with some brown sugar to create oh-so-yummy earth.

I also made some Rice Krispy Treat favors, cut from a dino cookie cutter and topped with bright orange, blue and red tinted White Chocolate.

This cake ended up being one of the more fun ones I've done in a long time. And, I learned a few new techniques to boot! That's the best thing about my profession - it's always evolving and there's always something new to learn!

Thanks to the sweet family that invited me in on such a fun day! I truly enjoyed every moment of creating this cake!

Happy Birthday, Miller!
I hope you had a roaaaarrrin' good time!

New Button!

It's raining!!
And, although I wouldn't normally be excited about that,
it's hasn't rained here ... like a good pour

So, while I've been cooped up
inside the house for a few days,
I decided to play around a little
with the header and a button!

Check it out -->
on my side bar --->
Just over there ->

Yay for cupcakes ...
bright colors...
and a button!
Haha - and it was FREE!

I would love it
if you would
Grab My Button!

I found a tutorial at 
a super cute mommy blog!
Click HERE for the DIY Button post.

Well, I am off
to buy some bulk TP!
{There's nothing worse than being completely out of TP!}
Y'all have a fantastic Tuesday!


Atomic Cheesecake

Pure craziness awesomeness
happened in the
kitchen over the weekend ...
Ready for this?

Let's back up a bit first-
My family goes camping
right on the N.C./V.A. border
every year in the fall.

{And, when I say camping, I mean all the boys sleep outside in tents while all us chick-a-dees and babies sleep in a hotel! Yeeeah, we cheat...but I'm cool with it! We totally do all outdoor activities during the day, so it absolutely counts! haha!}

Here are a few pictures from last year:

You know you like my camping flannel!!
The whole gang - picnic time!
Cousins! Mason has his tractor, of course! Obsessed, I tell ya!!
Out on the edddge of glory...and I'm hangin' on a moment with yoooou!
Love me some GaGa!
This tree grew over that rock ... pretty crazy, huh!
There's this fabulous little winery 
just up the road called Shelton Vineyards.
Surrounded by beautiful grape vines
sits the Harvest Grille.

Amazing food
+ gorgeous views 
- "roughin' it" clothes
equals: the most perfect fall evening!

Last October, my husband and I
ate like kings ...
and even decided to indulge 
in a little dessert, compliments of the chef.

It was an Atomic Fireball Cheesecake.
You know, the spicy little round candies:

It's been 10 months since that dinner
and we are still talking about that slice.
So, into the kitchen I went Sat. afternoon
to try and re-create that huge hit!

2 cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
1 stick Butter, room temp.
3 tbsp. Sugar
1/4 tsp Salt
2 Atomic Fire Ball Candies, crushed

16 oz. Cream Cheese, room temp.
1/2 cup Sugar
2 Eggs, room temp.
1/4 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp Cinnamon Extract
Pinch Cayenne Pepper
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
10 Atomic Fire Ball Candies, crushed
{**To crush candy, I threw the wrapped balls onto the cement on my front porch - haha! yes, I am aware of how silly I looked, but I wanted to help my food processor out a little! - I then unwrapped each and put all broken pieces into my food processor. I pulsed until almost a powder had formed. This stuff melts wonderfully!**}

5 oz. White Chocolate Chips
1/3 cup Heavy Cream
3 Atomic Fireball Candies, crushed.

Melt the fireball candies into the cream over medium heat. When the candy has dissolved, remove from heat and add white chocolate. Continue to stir until chocolate has completely melted.

This recipe makes a small {or short} cheesecake. If you like a tower of a slice, just double the filling amount! :)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
For the crust, combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix with hands until all crumbs are moistened. Pour into a greased 8 inch springform pan and pat down with fingers. Bake for 7-8 minutes, or until golden brown and let cool.
For the filling, place heavy cream and crushed candy in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Occasionally stir until  candy has melted - set aside. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix cream cheese and sugar until combined. Add eggs, one at the time and then season with extracts and pepper. {If you don't want a kick in your cheesecake and just prefer a sweet-cinnamony flavor, the cayenne can be omitted.} Slowly add the cream, little by little, until it's all incorporated.

When crust has cooled, double wrap pan with tin foil. Pour batter into crust and sit inside a larger pan. {I used a 12 inch round.} Pour hot water into the larger pan to form a water bath and bake for 45-50 minutes. Let the cake cool before pouring the ganache. Place cake into fridge 4-5 hours to set. Slice and enjoy!

The sheer aroma
of this cake
right out of the oven
takes me back to that night!

It's so creamy
with this warming sensation
that coats the back of the throat.
Simply mouth watering!

And, just LOOK at that color!
It makes for a gorgeous presentation!

The crushed bits in the crust really takes it up a notch.
The original recipe did not include this ...
I just think it brings a wham-bam punch
of atomic flavor to the dish!

It's a little bit of work,
but worth every bite!

Ohh, I can't wait for our next visit
to the Harvest Grille!!
October can't come soon enough!

Enjoy your week -



What you need to know
about me
if we're going to be
bloggy bff's...

  • I am not a morning person! If I don't have to be up at a certain time, I'll sleep to 9 or 10, easy! 
  • I am 5'1...my husband is 6'4. Yeah, we look pretty silly together! He is awesome to take grocery shopping, though!
Us on our wedding day!
  • I super-duper hate laundry! Not so much the washing or drying part...I don't even really mind the shaking out part...it's the hanging part I despise. 
  • Impatience is my downfall. And Chic-Fil-A is my weakness!
  • I am more concerned about Mason's heath than my own. For a quick lunch, I'll make his plate full of lean turkey, apple slices and "dino trees" {aka broccoli.} Wanna know what I have? A handful of peanut m&m's!
  • I catch myself watching the Disney Channel waaaay after Mason has left the room.
  • When the hubby and I go out to eat, we often critique the restaurant like Gordon Ramsey does on Kitchen Nightmares. {The menu isn't concise ... The decor is dreadful ... The time-to-the-window is horrifyingly long} Yes, we say all of that in our wretched British accents!
  • I'm a dreamer. I dream about owning a cupcake shop...seeing the world...etc. I do this all the time and drive my husband crazy with it!
  • I prefer any movie genre over a chick flick. When I watch a movie, I want to be entertained - I cry enough in real life, I don't want ball over some fake situation. I also prefer "boom boom" music. Not so much the lyrics as I just LOVE the beat!
  • I am a natural blonde {although, I've had every hair color in the book} and everything that applies to a natural blonde, more often than not also applies to me! {Yeeea, I can be an airhead!}
  • I love my family more than anything...and because of that, I want to spend the very most possible time with them. My motto: Every time the bank is closed, it's a reason to get together with family and eat!
  • I prefer vintage over new any day!
  • I live for my next visit to Starbucks.
So, that's about a baker's dozen of little tid-bits about me!  
What should I know about you?


Triple Chocolate Cranberry Almond Crackles

we had around
our house
yesterday evening!

My poor baby
fell out of a chair
{arms flailing}
and busted his nose!

All while I was
at my Bunco gathering.
The hubby took cake of everything...
even the carpet cleaning!

He thinks it was a good thing I was out.
{That bad, eh?}
But, I can't help feeling guilty!
Every babe needs their mommy to kiss new boo-boos!

So, I declared today
Mason Day!
We are watching Toy Story, 1 and 2...
pizza for lunch, adventure walk this afternoon...

And, yummy homemade cookies
just for him!

Here is my
Turn Any Frown Upside Down
Triple Chocolate Cookies:
{adapted from Joy The Baker's recipe}
8 ounces Chocolate
3 tbsp. Butter
1 cup Sugar
3 Eggs
1 tsp. Instant Coffee or Espresso
1 cup Flour
1/4 tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 tsp. Salt
1 cup Chocolate Chips
1 cup Chopped Almonds
3/4 cup Dried Cranberries

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In a double broiler, melt the chocolate {I used  2 ounces Milk Chocolate, 2 ounces Semi Sweet and 4 ounces 60% cocoa, but you can use any combination you like!} and butter until smooth. Set aside.
Mix sugar and eggs in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Slowly add melted chocolate, instant coffee, flour, baking powder and salt. Once the batter forms, throw in the rest of the ingredients - which are all completely optional, of course. Or, use your imagination to create your own ... replace cranberries with dried cherries * switch the almonds to walnuts * even try white raisins for a unique treat!
Dollop a tablespoon of batter on a greased cookie sheet, separating each by 2 inches because they will spread. Bake for 12 minutes, or until cracks form on the top of the cookies. Let cool for approx. 5 minutes before transferring to a rack.

These chunky cookies are
Chewy, Chocolaty
and packed with
crunchy, sweet goodness!

guarantee they will
turn the very most 
stressful of days around!!
Heck, they even cured a busted nose!


Chocolate Peanut Butter Whoopies

I'm making whoopie today...

Pies, that is!

I recently bought the coolest cookbook eva!! 
by Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell

It's chock full of awesome and unique recipes! 
{Including the one I'm sharing with you today!}
So, I thought I'd whip some up for my BUNCO group.
We're meeting tonight ... Yay for FUN with the girls!!

1 3/4 All Purpose Flour
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
4 tbsp Butter, room temp.
4 tbsp Shortening
1/2 cup Brown Sugar, packed
1/2 cup Peanut Butter, smooth or chunky works great
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
2 Eggs
1 1/2 cups Buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Sift together the first 4 ingredients and set aside. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix butter, shortening, sugar, peanut butter and vanilla until combined. Add eggs, one at the time. Mix in half of the flour and then add half the buttermilk. Then, the rest of the flour can be added. Lastly, mix in the remaining buttermilk and beat on medium speed until smooth.

Dollop rounds of batter with a 2-tbsp spoon on a greased baking sheet, making sure each round is 2 inches from the other. Bake for 18 mins, or until slightly browned at the edges. Let cool completely on a rack.

Chocolate Ganache
1 bag of your favorite Chocolate
1 cup Heavy Cream
1/4 tsp. Instant Coffee or Espresso

Melt chocolate {I used 60% Cocoa} and coffee into cream over a double broiler until smooth.

3/4 cup Peanut Butter, smooth or chunky
1/4 cup Marshmallow Cream
1 cup Powder Sugar
1 tbsp Vanilla Extract
1 squeeze of a Honey Bear

Cream peanut butter and marshmallow together, add vanilla and honey. Slowly add sugar until a frosting forms. Beat for a minute or two on high to fluff the frosting.

Dip the flat side of the cooled shell into ganache. {I found that spreading it on each shell with a spoon was much easier and a little less messy} Place on parchment paper to set. When the chocolate has set, pipe frosting on the chocolate side of one shell. Top with another shell to create a sandwich. The pies now can be half dipped in more ganache ... or rolled in yummy candies/crushed cookies ... or drizzled in chocolate ... even simply eaten just as is.

I rolled mine in my hubby's favorite - Reese's Pieces!!

These are super peanut buttery with just the right cocoa kick! To.die.for.
My BUNCO group will love 'em tonight!
Enjoy and Happy Baking!

Parties I Linked To:
What I Whipped Up - Sugar and Dots
Whatever Goes Wednesday - Someday Crafts
Woot Woot Wednesday - The Tootsie Wootsie
Show Off Your Stuff - Fireflies and Jellybeans
Foodie Friday - Little Brick Ranch
Sweet Tooth Friday - Alli N Son
Sweets For A Sat - Sweet As Sugar Cookies
Weekend Wrap Up - Tatertots and Jello
Sweet Indulgence Sunday - A Well-Seasoned Life


Catherine's Wedding Cupcake Tower

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of working with a fabulous couple to create their unique Wedding Cupcake Tower. I was super bummed when I realized I had forgotten my camera and wasn't able to document my work. 

I patiently waited for the posting of thier professional pictures ...

And I found them today via Facebook!

Cupcake Tower:
With the beach as their ceremony location, coral hues as accent colors and one amazing wedding gown {featuring bold flower adornments} there was not a lacking in the inspiration department for this reception! I combined those 3 elements to create one stunning tower for the bride and groom!

The tower featured 6 flavor combinations including White Chocolate Raspberry and Chocolate Hazelnut. Each cupcake was either topped with an edible sea shell or ivory rose. Coral fondant flowers accented the stand for a pop of color.

Topper Cake
Simple ivory buttercream with a large coral fondant flower. The bride and groom topper was provided by the couple.

Beautiful newlyweds cutting the cake:

 Congratulations again, Catherine and Brandon! 

 {All above photographs were provided by Ryan Smith Photography of Myrtle Beach, SC. Visit his facebook page HERE.}

Heather's Wedding Day


This particular weekend, however, was a bit more special for me than others. It was the wedding of one of my very best childhood friends! She and I met through our church nursery - she was my first friend and although we never attended the same school, we continued to be close for many years. We share tons of fun memories together and I was beyond honored when she asked me to be apart of her big day!

This is alternating Chocolate Fudge Cake and Charleston Style Pound covered in Ivory Vanilla Buttercream. 

The design chosen was a close multi-scroll done in the same Ivory Buttercream.

Look at this sweet picture of her parents cutting the cake at their wedding:

to you both!
Thank you for inviting me in on your special day!