Birthday fudge!

I’m in my PJs by seven o’clock and, if possible, in bed by nine o’clock; I prefer the taste of coffee over the taste of wine; I find myself jumping to the worst case scenario or believing crazy conspiracy theories; and, I catch myself singing song lyrics incorrectly and in a odd singing voice.

So, I must ask myself the question that I have been terrified to say aloud:

When did I become my mother? 

Mom Outside

I suppose my fate was inevitable and becoming my mother isn’t the worst thing in the world; not only is she incredibly generous, but she is one of the strongest people I have ever known.  Caring for our family is no easy feat (as this household is packed with personality), and every day, she does so with ease.  Although my mom and I may bump heads (a lot), I think it’s because our personalities are the perfect blend of too similar and too different.  And as far-fetched as some of her life lessons may be, she has taught me some valuable ones, ones that help me thicken my skin when the world acts petty.

So today, while many are going out to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, we are celebrating my mother’s birthday. Well, that is IF it’s not down pouring outside (her request, not mine).

Mom and Watson

Being in the full swing of pre-Adoptathon-Bakeathon, I had to make sure my mom received a special treat of her own.

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One of my mom’s favorite snacks is pistachio nuts; I knew that if I was going to make her anything, I wanted to incorporate this.  Let me tell you, there is nothing more fun than unshelling 3/4 cups of pistachio nuts, only to find out that you could have bought them unshelled.  For my mom, though, it was well worth it!

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My mom is not the biggest fan of sweets, always preferring to go for a salty and savory snack instead; I thought a combination of the two would be the perfect birthday treat.  Attempting to double boil 20oz of white chocolate, 3 tablespoons of butter and 14oz of sweet and condensed milk in my tiny double boiler proved interesting.  However, I was lucky enough to get through this feat without any spills or drips.

I was pleased by the result: a sweet and savory craisin and pistachio, white chocolate fudge. My mom was happy too, quickly packing up half of the fudge to take with her to work.  It’s funny, it reminded me of when we were kids and used to bring treats in for our elementary school class.  Oh, to be young at heart. Happy Birthday Mom!   

Mom and Nanny Crazy

Icing on your nose

It is crazy to look back and see how fast time flies!  This past Tuesday, my cousin, Courtney, celebrated her 18th birthday. To think that she will be going off to college in the Fall, I am truly at a loss for words.

Courtney

I am incredibly proud of who Courtney has become; not only is she a funny and intelligent individual, but she is a genuinely kind-hearted person as well.  I cannot believe that I can sit with her and converse with her like an adult when it feels like just yesterday that she was a toddler, that she had found herself climbing atop of a treadmill, and after I lifted her off of it, she bit me.

Needless to say, I wanted to bake my cousin something extremely special for her birthday; I wanted to combine two of her favorite desserts: cannolis and brownies.

IMG_1495 I had researched a recipe for a cannoli cheesecake and quickly decided to add a nutella brownie bottom.  The result?  Well, seeing as it was a no-bake cheesecake, it did not come out as planned.  In fact, it was more of a whipped cannoli cream pie on top of nutella brownies.  Courtney did not seem to mind though!  I am glad that Courtney enjoyed both her birthday, as well as her cannoli, brownie pie.  Although I still cannot believe that Courtney is now an adult, I know that some things will never change, such as one very important life lesson: when you are presented with a birthday cake, you must smear off your name and put the frosting on your nose (always). 

Aw, nuts

They say it’s your birthday!

Well, no – not my birthday but it was my dad’s birthday!

Dad and baby Watson

(Aw, look at baby Watson)

But yes, before we head into Easter egg nation, we needed to celebrate my padre’s birthday.  My dad is an easy going guy, who has taught me everything I need to know about the Beatles.  However, when it comes to gifts, he can be just as difficult as it is easy to purchase for.  If you ask him what he wants, he says, “nothing, save your money!”  Naturally, we default to the usual Beatles t-shirts, Miami Dolphins paraphernalia or a gag gift of sorts.  This year, I wanted to do something different.

My dad is one of my many faithful taste-testers, often going for seconds or thirds and I am forced to chase him away with my spatula.  More often than naught, he finds himself frustrated that I give all my treats away.

I can’t have any of these?” is a question I normally hear every time I am baking.

For his birthday, I wanted my dad to have a baked treat of his very own.  His request, after much deliberation, was a chocolate and banana walnut bundt cake.

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Sounds easy enough, right?  That’s what I thought as well; however, after following each step of the recipe, there was just one little problem: the cake would not come out of the pan!

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According to my dad, the cake tasted great; the banana and chocolate flavors mixed quite nicely, and the cake was soft and moist.  Maybe too moist, as crumbs desperately clung to the metal bundt pan.  After much confusion, my mom had a possible theory: perhaps the chopped walnuts stuck to the pan.

When it comes to certain recipes, such as crumbles or cakes, it is often said that you need to flour your toppings before adding them to the recipe (to prevent them from sinking).  I seemed to have forgotten this helpful hint.  Luckily, my dad isn’t too picky.  Knowing him, this will be a great excuse for him to dig into his cake spoon first (with a heaping scoop of ice cream on top).

Happy Birthday Dad!

Turtle Power

Cowabunga, dude!

This weekend, my family and I made a trip down to New Jersey to attend a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles themed birthday party.  Growing up as a fan of the TMNT live action movies, I was pretty excited.  Upon arrival, EVERYTHING was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: the plastic ware was green, there was a giant Leonardo balloon, a TMNT Happy Birthday banner hung across the fireplace, and we all wore green as well.

Oh!

Did I forget to mention that this was my older brother’s 30th birthday party?

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When it comes to my brother and I, one of the few things that we have always bonded over was anything “nerdy”: video games, Star Wars, cartoons and superheroes – with my brother as my guide, I grew up as your typical nerd.

(#NerdLife and proud!)

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Regardless, we were all excited for a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles themed birthday party.  It might seem juvenile to some, but when else do you get to have fun, be silly and celebrate?

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(Even Peanut got into the TMNT spirit!)

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Being that it was my brother’s 30th birthday, I wanted to do something special.  After purchasing a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles visual history book and a memorial plaque of Spike (our first family dog), I felt like something was missing.

And then it hit me!  If there was one thing my brother loved, it was rainbow cookies.

When I first shared this idea with my mom, she had her doubts, and to be honest, so did I.  I was a little intimidated by these cookies; normally, I just throw everything into my mixer and hope for the best.  For my brother’s 30th birthday, though, I was up for the challenge.

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After reading the recipe over countless times, I was ready to dive in.  All I can say is thank God for technology and my friend, Michelle.  When Michelle isn’t teaching at Hot Yoga 4 You RVC, she works at a bakery where her specialty is rainbow cookies.  Michelle was patient, kind and encouraging as I bombarded her with a play-by-play of my rainbow cookie escapade.

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Every step was done with great care: double checking the difference between a soft peak and a stiff peak, boiling down the raspberries and blackberries for the the jam-filling, carefully dividing the batter equally among the three pans, and finally assembling and compressing the cookies.  This was certainly the most involved cookie I have ever made.  Even as I awoke the next morning, there was still more work to be done, for what is a rainbow cookie without a chocolate ganache topping?  Finally completing all of the steps and gazing down at the final product, I was really proud of the outcome.

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I knew the effort had been well worth it after seeing my brother’s reaction.  He enjoyed every bite of the rainbow cookie, and I could not have been happier.  I am really glad that I challenged myself and made these cookies for my brother.  I would like to think that it helped make his 30th birthday a little bit more special.  Now, that’s Turtle Power.

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