Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pumpkin is here!

I know it's officially fall, because I'm turning orange. Not really, but I might as well be. I've already baked 2 pumpkin treats and have had several Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Lattes (no whip of course) in the span of about 1 week. 
Here are my go-to pumpkin recipes I've used for years:

This fabulous recipe makes two loaves and is perfect warmed up for breakfast with a cup of coffee. Preferably pumpkin flavored coffee. Another decadent option? Make this a dessert treat by frosting with cream cheese frosting. Yumm!  I add in a few teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice, just to make sure it's extra pumpkiny, and I leave out the nuts.

  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 16-ounce can solid pack pumpkin
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9x5x3-inch loaf pans. Beat sugar and oil in large bowl to blend. Mix in eggs and pumpkin. Sift flour, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, salt and baking powder into another large bowl. Stir into pumpkin mixture in 2 additions. Mix in walnuts, if desired.
Divide batter equally between prepared pans. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Transfer to racks and cool 10 minutes. Using sharp knife, cut around edge of loaves. Turn loaves out onto racks and cool completely.

I ripped this little treasure out of Real Simple Magazine a while back and have held on to it ever since. You could use the Epicurious bread recipe for cupcakes, but this Real Simple Cupcake recipe is so much lighter and fluffier. In my opinion, I like fluffy cupcakes, and dense bread. So this is worth making on its own. Plus you use a box cake mix as a base, so there is really nothing to complain about. Decorate these however your heart desires!


  • 18.5-ounce box yellow cake mix (plus the ingredients called for in the package directions)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
  • 8-ounce bars cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 24 pieces candy corn


  1. Heat oven to 350° F. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners. Prepare the cake mix as directed but with the following change: Add the pumpkin pie spice and substitute the can of pumpkin puree for the water called for in the package directions.
  2. Divide the batter among the prepared muffin tins and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 18 to 22 minutes. Let cool.
  3. Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until creamy. Spread on the cupcakes and top each with a piece of candy corn. 
In the mood for another fall treat? Read up on my latest Tablespoon article - it's all about Butternut Squash! 

Happy Eating!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Baked Bries - Mini!

Gouda, Cheddar, Fontina and more...Oh cheese, oh cheese it's you I adore! 

Do you like my cheesy jingle? I hope it truly displays my love for cheese. If that didn't get the point across, check out one of my previous posts: Ode to Brie.

I think it's pretty clear that cheese and I are tight. Especially the delightfully creamy Brie varieties. So you can imagine my happiness when I discovered this treasure at the grocery store a few months ago:

No, your eyes are NOT tricking you, those are MINI Bries! You see, brie cheese is not a health food. So, when Mr. Fo and I split a wheel of Brie, I feel guilty. And large. Portion controlled Brie at 70 calories a pop? Yes please. Plus, they are just so adorable. I knew I had to try something - Mini Baked Bries! A girls night last weekend was the perfect opportunity to showcase my new find. Individual Baked Bries for each guest? Coming right up! 

Look for this packaging in the specialty cheese section. It comes with 5 mini Bries per package.

To scale...doesn't my hand look giant compared to these miniature cheeses?!

I decided to do a version of Paula Deen's Brie en Croute. The combination of nuts, cinnamon and brown sugar is perfect for fall and makes a pretty presentation. 

First step: Toast your walnuts in melted butter until golden brown, add cinnamon to the nuts and mix.

You can use phyllo dough, or you can use Pillsbury Crescent rolls. I prefer the Crescent rolls because they are so easy to work with. One tube of Crescent rolls is the perfect amount for the package of 5 Bries. Tear off a piece of Crescent (doesn't have to be a perfect square) and place your brie in the middle. Layer the nuts and brown sugar, plus extra cinnamon if you like. There are no exact measurements here because let's face it, everyone needs more brown sugar in their lives.

Close it up and gather it at the top, sealing the edges at the top so your delicious filling doesn't escape during baking! The horrors....

Brush the dough with a beaten egg before baking so it gets that pretty golden brown color. Bake at 375 for about 15 minutes. 15 minutes gives you a gooey center, but it's not spilling out and greasy like the brie can sometimes get. How gorgeous are these?!

Decorate your plate with nuts and brown sugar and serve immediately! You can serve with crackers, or honestly, this can be eaten with a fork!

The possibilities for these mini Bries are endless. Having a dinner party? Serve your guests their own baked brie.  Impress your guests with this incredibly easy and fabulous appetizer. Or, just buy the mini brie and eat them as a snack. 70 calories never hurt anyone. 

Thanks to mini brie cheeses for making me ridiculously happy!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Beer and Flowers - Perfect Birthday Combination

Last week was Mr. Fo's 32nd bday. I think all birthdays should be celebrated with enthusiasm, friends and cake. Let's take a quick look back at Mr. Fo's last two birthday celebrations, so you know how I throw down:

Note the common denominator of these celebrations.... that would be the hoppy, frothy, malty beverage of Ice Cold Beer. If Mr. Fo had to choose between me and beer, it would be a tough decision, and if I'm being honest, I think beer has a pretty good shot. But let's be serious, if I had the same choice with wine instead of beer....well, let's just leave it at that. Love you honey! 

To celebrate number 32, we headed to Taco Mac. If you are unfamiliar with Taco Mac, that's unfortunate. It's the ultimate guy's place - with a million TVs and even more draft beers on tap. Check it out HERE! They even have an esteemed Brewniversity program, whereby if you drink various kinds of draft beers, you get prizes. Eventually, you get a plaque on the wall with your name. It was a proud day at the Fo house when Mr. Fo finally received his plaque. I'm sure you can relate. As a result, I have crowned him the "Taco Mac King." 

Let's check out his tablescape. Yes, those are beer cans with flowers. See how versatile beer is? And talk about recycling!

Party favors were Fall flavored Blue Moon with a custom label from the fabulous Bottle Your Brand. The labels said: "I partied with the Taco Mac King." I thought Mr. Fo's guests should know how important he is. I cannot say enough good things about Bottle Your Brand - the labels look fantastic and are so easy to apply! Plus they are water resistant. It's like magic.

Finally, a classic birthday cake made by Mr. Fo's sister. This is the pain in the arse to make, but well worth it, Oreo Cookie Dessert. Made famous by Mr. Fo's mom, this cake is delectable. Sometimes nothing can beat a childhood favorite. We even gave some to the neighboring table since they were drooling over it. We're generous.

Happy Birthday to my hubby! Love you ...more than wine :)

Friday, September 16, 2011

How to make Soft Pretzels!

Happy Weekend everyone! I'm so pumped to have a weekend "off" with no plans except major magazine reading, attending a Carolina Panthers game, and a fabulously relaxing girls night this evening. We celebrated Mr. Fo's bday last night with a fun dinner, and I will post pictures of that next week. For now I want to show you some beautiful photos of soft pretzels. You heard me right - soft pretzels are beautiful. I've discovered that anything can be beautiful if you have a great photographer. My friend Michael Flanagan took some pictures from me for a Tablespoon Blogging assignment where I was forced to make soft pretzels. I use the word "forced" sarcastically, because what an awesome assignment!

I used Pillsbury breadstick dough for the pretzels, which made them incredibly easy. And delicious. I created a Salty and Sweet dipping station to best showcase my creation.

Learn all about making soft pretzels HERE at my Tablespoon article.
Check out Michael's Flickr photostream HERE to view his talent for yourself. Note that he is available to shoot weddings and events in Charlotte  and surrounding areas.

Without further ado, let's check out some gorgeous pretzel pics!

For more delicious party eats, check out my Tablespoon article on Fried Ravioli.

Have a GREAT weekend!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Rustic, Elegant and FUN Wedding!

Hello!! Still catching my breath here and wish I could sleep for days! But since I can't (who can, I would like to shake their hand), I will share with you a few pictures from this wedding I coordinated over the weekend. 

First off, a few words about the bride and groom and their amazing families. Scott and Katie are SO stinking sweet and after meeting their families, I can totally see why. Both families are so lovely and nice and was an absolute blast spending a few days with them. 

I also want to say that although I WISH I could take credit for these fabulous DIY decorations, it was all Katie's brainchild. I handled day-of coordination and made sure everything at the reception went swimmingly. Which I must say, it did! Fun was had by all and now Katie and Scott are off in marital bliss. 
Mission accomplished!

Let's take a look at this rustic and elegant wedding, shall we? For now I only have my little pictures and Instagrams, but I hope to get my hands on the professional photos and share those with you later.

The cake says it all and might be my favorite part. I love the simple icing and the flowers, handmade by the crafty bride herself! And the unique cake stand had special meaning, as the trees stumps were made from fallen trees at the family's mountain home. Plus, they served little milk cartons with straws. 
Cake and milk - fabulous idea!

The rustic tree stump theme was carried out through the reception. Bright and cheery flowers were arranged on burlap runners made by the brides mom!

Colored burlap squares were used outside. I had never seen colored burlap before!


Colorful Izze sodas were served. They were a HIT! They look pretty and taste good, what more could you ask for?

Scott and Katie had several unique touches throughout their reception. Below is a canvas print for the popular thumbprint guestbook idea. Next to it are scraps of paper and jars that say "Honeymoon" and "1st Anniversary," for guests write the couple notes to be read on these days. How fun is that?!

I am saving the best for last. The father of the bride is an engineer and took great precision (and about a million hours) to hang these twinkle lights for his daughter. Using an 18 foot (I think ... ) ladder and a ton of elbow grease, the desired effect was achieved. How beautiful is this! 

Bottom line? 14 hour day? Pretty tiring. Happy bride and family? Priceless. I love seeing it all come together, it's the absolute best part. Have a fabulous week! 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Blogger Meet up and Football Dips ands Tricks!

Just coming up for air here...busy short week with work and a wedding I'm coordinating this weekend, but I did want to do a quick post about my very first face-to-face Blogger meet-up! 

For those of you that are unfamiliar with the big, mysterious blogging world, I want to share a little secret. There is no doubt that blogging is "brave." Putting yourself out there on the world wide web, with your thoughts, grammatical errors and photos for all to see can be scary. In fact, that first time you hit "Publish Post," is downright frightening. Here's the secret though...I'm sort of hiding behind my computer. I can email and tweet and Facebook and Blog until I'm blue in the face, but I'm still behind my protective laptop shield! Not that I am afraid to talk to people in person, in fact, it's quite the opposite. BUT. My overall rambling and slightly over thought point is that while blogging is brave, meeting one of your blog friends is even braver. Because seriously, what if he/she hates me when I am NOT behind said protective shield! What if our funny email banter doesn't translate to the real world? 

So you be the judge...did Jess from Party Box Design and I get along?

Uh yea.......... I think we did! Jess is awesome! We got along like peas and carrots, or my personal favorite, wine and cheese. She is just a sweet as you might imagine, and one helluva good time! Her husband is so nice - and has an impressive head of hair on him, just thought you should know that. And her sweet daughter? OMG! What a hilarious, adorable child! 

First blogger meet up = success!

To celebrate tonight's first official NFL game, why don't you check out my Football Dips & Tricks article posted on Tablespoon. It's full of fatty, cheesy dips and decor ideas for making your football party the absolute cutest and unhealthiest it can be.

Are you ready for some football? And pumpkin flavored everything? And cooler weather? This gal is. Hope you're having a GREAT week!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Bumble Bee Shower Feature

Wellllllll helloooooooooooo! Hope everyone is having a fantastic week! I want to show you guys one of the cutest showers I have seen in awhile! Thanks to my friend Ashley for sending it, she found it on her wedding photographers blog. The vendors are Ohio businesses. I wanted to give a little shout out to the great state of Ohio where I spent my college years...Go Miami Redhawks! 

How cute is this "Honeybee" shower! I absolutely LOVE the color scheme and the beehive cake is too cute!




Credits - These are all amazing vendors! Check them out if you are in the Ohio area or just want something pretty to look at!
Planner: MMJ Events 
Photographer: Henry Photography

I am so excited to take my last trip of the summer to the beach in South Carolina. My fall is crazy with events and work, so you can be sure I will be relaxing on the beach with some crisp white. White Wine that is. I am also excited to meet the fabulous Jess from Party Box Design who is in the area. Mr. Fo thinks it's weird of course...he doesn't understand the blog world. What do you it weird to meet a blog friend in person?
Have a great Labor Day weekend!