Monday, August 29, 2011

a beautiful beach weekend.

blakey, tanky, & i had a most wonderful weekend at the beach with the mcgowans!  it was so lovely to get a way & spend time with some of my favorite people, even if only for 36 hours.

much more to come about the weekend, but for now, i am going to sleep.  

must get my rest for a fun fun week ahead - lisa & nonnie arrive today, followed by cari & armstrong on friday. 


love love,

Thursday, August 25, 2011

a caramel cake & a fabulous compliment.

this week at work, i made a caramel pound cake that was fantastically southern.

have you ever had caramel cake?  i never had until i moved to alabama.  & it truly is a great dish - moist & super rich with a brown sugar & butter flavor.  yummmm.

so, of course, i had to make the bundt cake version.

& it was quite good!

one of our customers gave it the best feedback i've heard since baking at urban:

"oh my gosh. if i could bathe in that caramel poundcake, i would!"

love it.

have a beautiful weekend, friends.  i know we will!

love love,

thankful thursday # 31.

although i don't normally say this,

i am SO THANKFUL it is almost the weekend.

it has been a long week.  restaurant week + taking saturday off = really long week.

& on the more positive side of life, we have a ridiculous number of things we are super duper excited about!

beach weekend with amy, ogden, & the pups!!

then lisa & nonnie will be here on monday!!!

& then cari & armstrong will be here on friday!!!!

{yes, that is a lot of exclamation points, but they are all really necessary.}

speaking of weekends, please enjoy this photo documentary of our evening on our "patio" last friday night:

{blakey & i hanging out on our "patio" means tanky thinks he needs to sit in my lap.}

 {& tanky sitting in my lap means he wants to make out with me.
he is pretty sure we are boyfriend girlfriend.
blake is jealous.

 {& this is his super adorable pouty face when i made him exit my lap.}

 {so then he tried to make out again.}

{which made him super tired.
two year old tanky = the best.}

i hope you can think of something for which you are thankful today.

& if you are blake, amy, ogden, lola, lisa, nonnie, cari, or armstrong... I AM SO RIDICULOUSLY HAPPY I GET TO HANG OUT WITH YOU SOON!!!  & thankful.  & blessed.

love love,

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

psl days are almost upon us.

psl: pumpkin spice latte.

yes, i'm beyond embarrassed to admit it, but i freakin LOVE pumpkin spice lattes from the 'bucks.

i even order it like a huge 'bucks snob:  non-fat, no whip, 2-pump, extra hot.  yeah, that totally happens.

it's embarrassing.

but i just realized with labor day one week away, we are almost to the days of pumpkin spice lattes!!  & i am so so excited.

almost as excited as these people are.  seriously, you HAVE to watch this.  it is amazing.

if the video doesn't work for you, please please go HERE to watch it.

so happy almost psl days to you.

love love,

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

a bbq festival

this weekend, blakey & i spent our saturday afternoon at the stokin' the fire bbq festival at sloss! 

sloss furnace is birmy's only national historic landmark.  it was the twentieth century's only blast furnace.  this is kind of crazy: at one point, birmy produced 42% of the total iron in the US.  whoa.  we've been wanting to go explore sloss & learn all about it but haven't had the chance yet.  at least we finally found the opportunity to be there!  next time we'll actually walk around & education ourselves.

saturday was all about bbq.  lucky for me, i have learned to love bbq in the south.  oklahoma bbq = not my favorite.  too sweet & syrupy.  alabama bbq = awesome.  vinegary & delicious. we walked around & tried so much bbq.  lots & lots of pulled pork, one of my favorite foods.  & some great ribs too.  one group had wings that had to be marinated in soy & honey.  sounds weird, right?  so good!  probably couldn't eat an entire plate full, but one was fantastic.

our friends, conor & jonathan boone, joined us for our day o' bbq.  j.boone is a master at finding the cooks that are about to put out food & getting first in line.  it was pretty impressive.  &, as boys will be boys, we got to talk about football for a couple hours.  have i mentioned how excited i am football is about to start?? 

{check it out: it's us!}

always fun to hang out with the byrds.  especially when eating is involved.  by the way, you will laugh to know that we went to moe's for dinner later that night.  had to get the world's best chicken wings to go with all of that pork :)

love love,

Monday, August 22, 2011

a pastry school graduate!

i am an official pastry school graduate!

our graduation from culinard was this weekend.  in addition to the commencement ceremony, it was a little class reunion, seeing my fellow pastry friends for one of the first times since we finished class in march.  it was so great to see my friends & hear all about the awesome things they are doing.  so proud of you all!

{jess & me!}

{that's me in the back row looking at the camera.
super cool hats, huh?}

afterwards, blakey took me out to celebrate!  we've been wanting to sit at the bar & eat dinner at whole foods for awhile now, so we finally went.  it was fun to sit & people watch & just spend a little time with my husband.

love love,

Friday, August 19, 2011

birmingham restaurant week is here!

birmingham restaurant week 2011 has arrived!

for the next 9 days, many restaurants in birmy are offering fantastic menus for their customers.  it is a fun opportunity to try something new at your favorite restaurant or finally get to that restaurant you've been wanting to try for so long.

& for me this means i have a lot of work to do.  for our dinner offering at urban, we have a peach & blueberry crostata that i will be making all week long.  it involves a pie dough filled with a fresh peach & blueberry mix, folded together to form a rustic-looking free form tart.  ours is not super sweet to let the freshness of the fruit win over your taste buds.

should be a fun & delicious week.

oh, did i mention my pastry school graduation is this weekend too?  it is finally here!  really, i'm just excited to hang out with my friend jess, just like old times.  

hope you have a wonderful weekend, friends.

love love,

Thursday, August 18, 2011

thankful thursday # 30.

{out our back door at work}

never in my wildest dreams did i think i would say this, but i am so thankful to see the sunrise most mornings.

since we are on the far east end of our central time zone, the sun had been getting up pretty darn early this summer.  but now that we are getting further & further away from the summer solstice, the sun is getting up later & later.  {my dad will be so proud i talked about the summer solstice on my blog!}

as i have driven eastward-ish to work each morning this week, the sunrise has been absolutely beautiful.  the clouds are whispy & the sky is full of morning colors. 

i am very grateful.  

good morning, sun.  it's been nice to join you in your awakenings.

i hope you can think of something for which you are thankful today.

love love,

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

my pretty summer salad.

flipping through my favorite food network magazine, my eyes fell upon the most beautiful fruit salad i had ever seen.  i've been loving watermelon & blueberries in the summer in birmy & this gem showcased them both.  i had to try it.

isn't it the prettiest dish you've ever seen?  i love the bright red watermelon, the deep blueberries, the pops of lemon zest, & the bits of green mint to make it feel even more fresh.  

& the amazing thing is that it tastes even better than it looks.

so do yourself a favor - go to your local farmers market.  buy a watermelon, some blueberries, fresh mint, & a lemon or two.  & follow this recipe:

or maybe "follow" my version:

my pretty summer salad

a quarter seedless watermelon, balled
2 pints of blueberries
the zest & juice of 2 lemons
pinch of salt
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c water
12ish mint leaves, divided

1. heat the sugar + water until the sugar dissolves, stirring often {because i love to stir}.  

2. take it off the heat & add about 6 mint leaves.  let this sit & become awesome for about 20 minutes.  you can ball your melon {haha.  that just sounds funny.} & zest your lemon while waiting.

3. discard that wilty mint.  throw in the zest & juice of the lemons.  throw in a pinch of salt.  stir stir.

4. pour your minty lemony concoction over the bowl of fruit.  toss with the other 6ish leaves of mint, chopped.  put some more lemon zest on top, if you'd like.  

5. & then let it sit &  become more amazing for at least 30 minutes.  marry flavor, marry.

you will fall in love too with my pretty summer salad.

love love,

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

i love cake plates!

i love cake plates!

i really really do.  you might already know that, as i did tell you {HERE} & again {HERE}.  so you must understand how thrilled i was when tom, urban's owner, bought two new cake plates for me to use out in the cafe! 

we are now the proud users of two gorgeous clear glass {have i also told you about my obsession of clear glass everything?} domed cake plates that can also multi task as a punch bowl, a chip & dip plate, or an hors d'oeuvres tray.  i will, of course, keep using it as a fantastic domed cake stand, but mutli use things are pretty awesome regardless. 

these beauties now sit above my bake case to hold even more tasty treats. 

coffee cake, obviously.  & did i tell you we now make huge muffins?  lemon poppy seed were quite the disaster.  {ok, maybe not a disaster, per say.  they were delicious.  just really really ugly.  they wouldn't rise at all.  maybe the acid in the lemon??  your thoughts?}  so we now are making buttermilk oatmeal muffins.  a not super sweet breakfast treat!  topped with a little brown sugar for a little more sweet...i am a pastry chef, after all.

love love,

Monday, August 15, 2011

sunday fun at the mcgowans!

we had sunday fun-day at the mcgowans!  ogden wanted to grill wings {remember last time HERE}, & we were so happy to join in the deliciousness.  they were so good, again!

throw in some extra cheesy & green chile-y cornbread & i am a really happy girl.

have i ever mentioned i cannot make good cornbread?  i feel like the worst southern girl ever.  i know the first problem is that i need a really good cast iron skillet.  anyone want to gift me their super fantastic & already seasoned cast iron skillet?  second problem is that i have no good recipe.  i am absolutely accepting one of those too!

not sure if it was the cilantro cream sauce appetizer or the cheesy delicious cornbread or amy's favorite homemade bleu cheese dressing or the fact that they double purchased wings, but we actually had leftovers!  that has never happened.  yay cold chicken for breakfast.

 {our favorite hosts}

 {i'm actually on the blog!}

& as always, one of the highlights of any day of fun at the mcgowans is that tanky gets to play play play with his girlfriend, lola.  he is passed out on the couch as i type this.  i love sleepy tanky.  LOVE him.

{family pic!
because why wouldn't our 50 pound boxer need to be on our laps}

wonderful friends.  fantastic food.  beautiful evening.

hope your weekend was fabulous too!

love love,

Friday, August 12, 2011

it's football time!

it is finally here!  football season is back!!

ok, so it's just nfl preseason, but i am still so excited.  this year nfl preseason actually means something.  recent trades, new teammates, playing together for the first time.  yes. 

& now fantasy football is about to start & then OU FOOTBALL!!! 

to celebrate the evening, blakey sent this to his brothers & dad:

& these were the responses:

 {little brother}

 {big brother}


i totally married into the right family.

happy football season!!  & happy friday.

love love,

Thursday, August 11, 2011

thankful thursday # 29.

this blog post is going to sound really strange.  i might sound like i'm complaining or being unthoughtful or something.  but i am truly so incredibly grateful.

you may not know what i did before we moved to birmy - i was a portfolio manager for a trust department.  that is just a fancy way of saying i invested rich people's money.  i helped them decide how to invest, i made the specific investing decisions, i sent each trade to be invested.  a huge part of my job was keeping up with the news.  i needed to know what was going on in the world every day & how that affected investments.

when i started in may 2007, the dow was above 13,000.  i watched it get above 14,000.  & then i lived it falling into the 6,000s.  i lived it.  falling.  everyday. 

it sucked.  i know that over the long run the stock market is one of the best ways to invest your money...blah blah blah.  but when you read it every day, watch it fall, it is hard.  I {only time i will use a capital "I"} was losing my clients' money.  it wasn't my fault but it felt like it was.  it was really hard.

so my husband encouraged me to find something to do i loved, that would allow me to be in a good mood at the end of the day.  & that part of my life you know & read every day!

watching the economy, the market start to do what it did three years ago - i could not be more thankful that i am not in that world again.  that i am not living & breathing it every day, again.  yes, it still affects my life.  but it isn't the every day kind of way.  it isn't the "oh, good, you haven't jumped out of the window" kind of way. {not a funny joke.  ever.}

i am so incredibly thankful. 

so thank you to everyone who is living & breathing it.  i wish you so much luck.  i encourage you to not let it get you down & to leave it at the door when you walk out of work.  we'll get through this.  we always do.  it will not be a financial armageddon.  or even if it is, we'll get through that too.  we did last time.

off i am this morning to bake some cupcakes.  the biggest problem in my work today will be what kind of cookie should i make or why wont this dough do what i want it to do or oh, crap, this doesn't taste that great.  & i am thankful for all of those problems today.

i hope you can think of something for which you are thankful today.

love love,

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


one of the best restaurants in birmy is highlands.

it is one of frank's {frank stitt, that is.  i would like to pretend like he & i are on a first name basis.} masterpieces.  a "french-inspired southern dinner".  an amazing-inspired southern dinner.

it is really good.


& we got to dine at highland's this weekend!  the last of blakey's birthday gifts {thank you, dad!!!} was fabulous.  after a couple of beverages at the bar {i tried the day's libations: spicy grapefruit margarita.  very interesting & very good.}, we were seated at a lovely table next to the fireplace.

one of the long time servers greeted us & took great care of us all evening.  all 3 hours.  i love long dinners.

to start & most definitely the best part of the entire meal, we enjoyed the beef carpaccio.  shaved pamesan, arugula, & housemade hourseradish sauce.  it was absolutely the definition of simple & fresh & beautiful food.  my very favorite type of food.

blake's pork & fried oysters appetizer was quite good too.  what is not good fried, really?

for our main courses, i had pompano grenobloise.  have you ever tried or even heard of pompano?  we had not before moving here.  every adjective i am about to use to describe it does not make it sound appetizing, but it really really is.  a white fish that has much more flavor {but not fishy} & body {but not greasy} than your average fish.  so good.  it was served with wilted spinach, capers, & brown butter.

blakey had the grilled lamb chop & leg with an heirloom tomato sauce.  oh, also so very good.

& to finish off our meal & our spanish cava, we tried the butterscotch cake.  this cake was so light!  which was fabulous considering how incredibly full we were at this point.  well done.

the entire meal was divine.  a big huge, long, fabulous meal - one of our favorite things.

thank you, daddy byrd!

love love,

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

a lovely saturday afternoon at urban.

after blakey woke up from his post call nap on saturday, we headed over to urban to spend our afternoon off together.

one of my favorite people in birmy is leaving urban to learn even more about coffee at primavera.  primavera is the coffee roasting company in birmy that makes the amazing coffee we brew at urban.  they are a fantastic bunch.  so i'm happy for branden to head over there.  but i'll miss my birthday twin!

to send him off, the kitchen decided we needed to make a cake for him.  cheesecake is his favorite, so began my first attempt at cheesecake.  it actually wasn't bad!  {i am not the biggest cheesecake fan.  i am not the biggest creamy/no other texture fan, so that is actually a compliment coming from me.  believe it or not.}

there were quite a few urban employees on this particular saturday afternoon, so we all enjoyed our strawberry topped cheesecake with a little espresso together.  {if you haven't had espresso while eating cheesecake, try it.  an amazing combination.  1 + 1 = 15 million, here.}

after our dessert, blakey & i shared a nice glass {or bottle} of pinot on the patio together.  a lovely date with my husband.

{blakey LOVES his ipad.
he is taking a picture of a fly...with his ipad.
no idea why.
but he loves it.}

tomorrow i will tell you all about our phenomenal dinner date.  oh, it was so good.

& congrats to you, branden!

love love,

Monday, August 8, 2011

intern party year 2!

it is that time of year again - intern party!!  can you believe an entire year has past & blakey is now a big upper level?  the new interns & new spouses are here & they are fantastic.  we got a great group.  totally swept the match :)  i joke...but it is totally rush for adults.

intern party this year was again at the beautiful home in mountain brook with a fabulous kitchen.  wine & cheese & hors d'oeuvres filled platters & our bellies.  {there was a fantastic blueberry & goat cheese.  yeah, find it & try it.  so good!} 

i once again got to make the desserts!  we decided upon a finger food pastry spread, which is so much easier for a party.  my favorite lemon cupcakes with lemon creamcheese frosting!  the new gems from work of red velevet cake bites!  & a something i've never tried - chocolate chocolate & peanut butter whoopies! 

{lemon cupcakes}

{red velvet cake bites}

  {chocolate chocolate peanut butter whoopies}

blakey was being awesome & took the intern call, so all of the interns could enjoy their party.  flying solo, i actually got to hang out with all of the newbies & got to know the spouses.  truly fantastic people.  we have a good three more years ahead of us. 

love love,

Friday, August 5, 2011

all about bundt cakes.

i have been all about making bundt cakes at work lately.  bundt coffee cakes, bundt pound cakes, bundt cake cakes.  you name it, i want to put it in a bundt pan.

that is a funny word, bundt.

especially when you type it over & over again.

i wonder where it came from...

anyway, bundt cakes.  we are friends.

{blueberry coffee cake!
the customer favorite}

 {apple coffee cake!
a great use of extra apples}

 {cream cheese pound cake!
who knew i liked pound cake?}

yeah yeah, they all look the exact same.  we only have one bundt pan.  but i'm ok with that.  so many options.  i've also made a honey bun coffee cake, which is probably my favorite.  it has a ton of brown sugar & pecans.  so good!

& i've been really wanting to make this one i found in the food network magazine:  a rootbeer bundt cake!  i'll let you know how it turns out.  guarantee it wont look this pretty.

hope you have a fantastic weekend!  i have a lot of baking to do today with work & the intern party.  {remember last year HERE?}  should be a fun day!

love love,

Thursday, August 4, 2011

thankful thursday # 28.

blakey has been on a pretty cush' rotation for the last few weeks.  he is quite often still asleep when i leave for work & usually home by 5.  in fact, one day this week he got off work before i did! 

i've loved getting to hang out with him more.  we've eaten lunch together, hung out on the patio together, & of course relaxed with the t guy together.

super thankful to spend time with the byrds!

i hope you can think of something for which you are thankful today.

love love,