Showing posts with label Life. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Life. Show all posts

2/19/14

Chocolate Whiskey Cake Recipe (2 versions)

I will (shamefully) admit... I'm not a chocolate person. Chocolate cake? My least favorite type of cake.

Oh, and I'm not a whiskey person, either.




But this cake is in my top 3 cake recipes ever (fyi, number one being Betty Crocker Rainbow Chips, but that's another story).  It's just so moist and delicious. The flavor of the whiskey, rich chocolate cake, and the crunch of the semi-sweet chocolate chips all work together so nicely.  I think I love it so much because the cake has more of a dark, semi-sweet chocolate taste rather than a typical chocolate or milk chocolate-y taste. I really quite like dark chocolate.

So while I obviously like this cake, the real reason I make it is for my husband, Brad. He LOOOOVES it.

I started making this cake years ago, before we even got married. I think I remember finding the recipe in a magazine (not sure which one it was exactly).
Anyway, it's a winner. I used to make it every Christmas for the fam's get-together, but when we started hosting Christmas at our place and were already cooking so much and getting the house together, it sort of fell off the menu since it does take a bit of time to make from scratch.

The good news is that I actually found a version using store-bought cake mix and frosting which actually tastes JUST as good! I was skeptical, but I did try that version of the recipe out a while back and I could not tell the difference.  I did modify the recipe a bit. I replaced a few ingredients and nixed the pecans, because neither Brad nor I are fans, and I think it's perfect!

Anyway,  I still make this yummy treat for Brad for special occasions to surprise him. Most recently for Valentine's day! So since I got so many requests for the recipe on Instagram, here is my original version...


Chocolate Whiskey Cake (scratch version)


  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
  • 2/3 cup boiling water
  • 1/3 cup whiskey
  • 1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3 cans (16 oz/ each) chocolate frosting  **you can make your own, but this is just as good and cuts a lot of time
  • more mini semi-sweet chocolate chips for garnish
Preheat oven to 350F. Butter 2 (9") round cake pans (or heart-shaped ones like I used if you're feeling fancy). Line pan bottoms with wax paper; butter and flour. Combine milk, eggs, and vanilla; reserve.
In a bowl combine next 6 ingredients. At low speed gradually beat in butter until coarse and sandy. Gradually beat in egg mixture. Increase speed to medium; beat 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Gradually beat in water then whiskey until combined. (Will make a thin batter.)
Divide batter between pans; sprinkle tops with measured chips. Bake 30-35 minutes, until toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean (keep in mind, it may not come out completely clean because of the melted chocolate chips in the batter). Cool on racks 20 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely on racks.
Place 1 cake layer on serving plate; spread with 1 cup frosting. *I like to sprinkle more chocolate chips over this middle layer of frosting. Top with remaining cake layer.  Spread tops and sides with remaining frosting.  Use remaining chocolate chips for garnish.



Not the simplest of recipes. But still worth it if you have the patience.

Usually, you can tell a huge difference between something made from scratch and something, well, not completely made from scratch. This version below using store-bought cake mixes is seriously just as good. After making both and comparing them (I had to make the scratch version one more time just to make sure I wasn't crazy), it is seriously the same. I'll probably make this "short-cut" version from here on out.

Chocolate Whiskey Cake (my short-cut version)



  • 1 box (around 16 oz.) Betty Crocker "Super Moist" Devils Food Cake mix
  • 1 cup buttermilk (I used low fat)
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup whiskey (I added just a splash more, and used the Jack Daniel's "Tennessee Honey")
  • 1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 cans chocolate frosting
Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and flour 2 (9") cake pans. Combine cake mix, buttermilk, oil, eggs, and whiskey with a mixer on low speed until combined. Increase speed to medium and beat another 2 minutes. Stir in chocolate chips. Divide batter between the pans and bake for 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (keep in mind, it may not come out completely clean because of the melted chocolate chips).  Cool on racks in the pans for 5 minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely on the racks.
Frost one layer of cake on a serving platter (I sprinkle more chocolate chips into the middle layer of frosting before putting on the top layer of cake), then add the top layer and frost completely. Sprinkle on more chocolate chips on top for decoration.




So that's my yuumy cake recipe!! I hope you guys love it if you make it! Let me know how it turns out!!


2/4/14

IMATS 2014

So today I'm (finally) bringing you guys my lil' photo recap of IMATS LA 2014! Only took me almost 3 weeks! haha

If you follow my Instagram, you probably saw lots of fun photos I posted from the weekend.  I also did one little post here on the blog about my outfit for Saturday's show. But I wanted to just sort of share a lot more photos and do a little recap of the weekend.

I cannot believe this was my 5th (!) year going to the show!

For those wondering if I will be at IMATS NY this year, I will not. I usually just go to the big LA show, but I know Sigma will be there at NY for the first time this year sort of "feeling it out" since it is typically known as a smaller show, but I feel like it's growing... I may go next year! We'll see! I'd love to meet some of my NY peeps too! 

Anyway, back to the LA weekend!

We arrived to lots of pretties in the hotel room...


The first night, we went out to dinner with the whole Sigma Beauty group...

We were so tired that night and I basically got zero photos. So there are.. zero photos of that. haha

The next morning, we got up and headed to IMATS for my meet-up!

It was also the "maiden voyage" of my navy Rockstuds...


They were SO comfortable.


There were SO many people at the booth!



I had the best time meeting you all. I've said it a ton, but seriously, thank you all who came! I had so much fun chatting and sharing a few moments together.

This couple below was the SWEETEST! And I'm not going to lie, I made the encounter a bit awkward. The details are a bit fuzzy, but I remember petting her handbag at one point after this! haha ;)







Brad was so sweet coming to the show with me, hanging out and chatting with some of his friends who were at the makeup show we see every year.  It's always so fun spending this weekend together and it makes me so happy that he's so supportive.  I could melt.  These were just a few of the shots he took, but if you came to the show, you can see all of our photos together that Sigma took at the Sigma Beauty Facebook page!

When we got back to the room, we decided to not let the pretty balloons left in our room go to waste...



...so we went out into the courtyard at our hotel and took some fun photos.



You can see the full OOTD post on this look in this post here.



We relaxed in the room for a bit and then it was time to head to the Sigma Beauty party.


We took all of these photos with our iPhones, and it was dark so they're not the best, but you get the idea! ;)

It's always so fun to see YouTube friends at this get-together every year!



Ha, not the best photo of me, but Jen looks cute! ;)






These are the best "outfit" photos I got of this dress. Again, phones and weird lighting... you get the idea.


This dress is called the "Shades of Blue" dress by Three Floor. I paired it with my Louboutin New Simple nude pumps I got in Paris years back (they'll always be extra special because of that), and a Marc Jacobs studded clutch.

Then it was time to head home the next morning!


Again, sorry for the grainy phone pic, but seriously, I would die to have this little area somewhere near my house to take OOTD photos.  SO pretty!

This was just a quick shot before we jumped in the car to head back to the airport. I'm wearing a top by Bobi, 7 For All Mankind skinnies, Club Monaco jacket, Tory Burch shoes, and my LV Lumineuse PM.

Until next time, LA. It was fun as always.

Here are some OOTD pieces from this post...





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1/29/14

A Snow Day and an Affordable Fashion Haul

Happy "hump day" y'all!

 So today I'm bringing you an extra lil' bonus video!

Before we get started, I've got to send some love to all of my fellow Atlanta folks who had the day from hell yesterday... Yeah, the snow was beautiful and magical around our house.  ...Because we were all home safe and sound.

Brad left work around 11am anticipating the madness that would inevitably ensue on the roads. However, I don't think ANYONE anticipated what was to come. Basically, we always joke that in Georgia, whenever we get a few inches of snow, the whole city and affected areas basically shut down. Mostly because we rarely get any snow and our state just isn't prepared. Also, when we see that snow is coming, it can go SO many different ways... As in, we never know exactly what we're going to get or how bad the roads will be.
The difference is that most states and areas who have regular snow in the winter know exactly what to expect and will treat their roads ahead of time anticipating the imminent inclement weather. Georgia just doesn't have those regular systems in place because it just rarely happens.

So Tuesday around lunchtime, every business started letting their employees go home. Around 1pm, most every school system in the area decided to "close" and let the children go home, which also led to even more traffic because parents were heading to pick them up. Which obviously led to MAJOR traffic issues. The streets were to capacity. Every single highway in the metro area was at a stand still. In the midst of all this, the roads were freezing.  Which meant the DOT couldn't really even GET to many of the roads to treat them because they were covered completely in record amounts of traffic. I'm talking, some of my friends were on the road for 12+ hours to travel only 5 or 6 miles. Most everyone I knew who was on the streets went on foot at some points. Babies were delivered on the side of the road, cars were abandoned everywhere, people were running out of gas...  Thousands of students spent the night on buses in freezing temperatures which absolutely broke my heart.  Hearing stories from my friends who couldn't even get to their children at their schools until midnight or so was terrible. Even people with big trucks that can usually handle the icy roads were out of luck, as most roads were just bogged down completely with un-moving traffic. Some roads looked like a scene straight out of The Walking Dead... haha. Not funny, but seriously... with all the abandoned cars, it was insane. The whole state was declared as being in a state of emergency.  Yeah it got crazy...

I could seriously go on and on about it and share a ton more stories, but you get the idea.  I'm just thankful that we were all at home safe and sound and while this one was enjoying the snow...


 ...we were so worried about the madness that was taking place all over the place nearby.


 When all the snow had fallen, we had right at three inches.



Could you just melt at that face??  Don't worry about him with the sticks. He just likes to play with them outside. We always supervise him with them because we know it's not great for them to eat pieces of wood, but he spits them out if he gets a piece off. He just thought they were extra tasty covered in snow!

K so enough of the snow madness. I'm about ready for it to melt away!

So Brad and I went to Target a few days back for some necessities and I ended up picking up some really awesome things!! I also thought I'd share some recent Macy's finds that I scored at great deals as well as the shoe find of my year...  Yeah, that statement may be a bit premature, but seriously, I don't think I'll find a deal this awesome on such cute shoes any time soon.

Hope you guys enjoy it!



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Were any of you affected by the Georgia snow?? 



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12/26/13

Our Christmas Dinner... With Recipes

Hello and Merry Christmas to you all! I hope you guys had a wonderful holiday filled with lots of time spent with family and friends. We really did this year!
So to celebrate this year, we had family over for Christmas dinner at our house on Christmas Eve. We usually go out for a nice dinner on Christmas Eve, then do Christmas dinner mid-day on Christmas day. This year, I really liked the new tradition. To me, Christmas Eve is so special and having a late night dinner followed by lots of time together, presents, and sweets made for a pretty perfect night.

So I didn't get a ton of photos around the actual house since I already shared all of our Christmas decor in my recent Christmas decor video and blog (you can check that out here if you missed it), so I focused mainly on the food.


SO much yumminess! We spread all the food out on the island in the kitchen, which was really easy so that everyone could grab exactly what they wanted. 

Before dinner, as everyone was arriving, we had a few snacks out. This is my FAVORITE dip/spread ever. Everyone likes it and it's super tasty. 



It's called "Pinecone Dip".  I first had it at my bridal luncheon given to me by my mother in law. So this recipe is all thanks to her.


Pinecone Dip
1 1/4 cup sliced, roasted almonds
1 (8oz.) pkg cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
5 slices crispy bacon
1 T chopped green onions (I always add just a bit more)
1/2 t dill weed
1/8 t pepper

Combined softened cream cheese & mayo. Add bacon, onion, dill, & pepper. Mix well. Chill overnight. Form into a "cone" shape and cover with almonds. 
*You can also roast whole almonds yourself, or use whole, roasted almonds (store bought). Then, when you add them, you overlap them around the dip which is where the "pinecone" name comes from. I don't like chewing into whole almonds, so I used sliced, but you can use whatever you want.


On the other side of the kitchen, I set up sort of a drink area and a little dessert area.

My mom put together this really easy and yummy punch she's been making since I was little. It's so simple. Just lime sherbet and ginger ale. Delish spiked too. ;)


I also put out some Chex to snack on. I didn't bake it like usual. I just grabbed a bag of spicy, and a bag of bold party mix and put it together. 
Oh, and some little clementines of course.

For desserts, I set out some mint sugar cookies my mom made, some little candies, a turtle cheesecake (store bought, frozen... was pretty delish), and a chocolate Coca-Cola cake my mom made.



For dinner, we had ham and turkey, cornbread dressing, squash and broccoli casserole, green beans, mashed potatoes, deviled eggs, and sweet potato casserole.  We also had cranberry sauce, but I had that on the table.



I made the sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, and broccoli casserole. Here are the recipes for those if you're interested...

Broccoli Casserole
2 bags frozen broccoli florets (cooked and drained)
2 cans celery soup
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups mayo
4 eggs beaten
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup of chopped onion
Topping: Plain or seasoned bread crumbs (whatever you prefer)
small amount of butter for drizzling over the bread crumbs
Cook broccoli as directed. Mix cheese, soup, onion, eggs, mayo, s&p in a large bowl. Fold in broccoli gently. Put in buttered casserole dish. Cook at 400 for 15 minutes. Sprinkle bread crumbs over top and drizzle with a bit of melted butter. Bake another 30-40 minutes until brown.

Sweet Potato Casserole (My Grandma's recipe) 
3 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes (I use Bruces canned yams)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup evaporated milk 
1/2 cup butter (melted)
Combine mashed sweet potatoes, sugar, eggs, vanilla, milk, & butter. Beat with mixer until smooth. Spoon into a greased 2 quart shallow dish.
Topping: Combine 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar, 1 cup all purpose flour, 1/3 cup melted butter, 1 cup chopped pecans
Sprinkle topping over top of casserole and bake at 350 preheated oven for 30 minutes. Let cool a bit before serving.

For my mashed potatoes, I really don't go by any recipe. So here's my non-specific recipe I just pulled out of my head...

Mashed Potatoes
8 medium-sized gold potatoes (peeled and chopped into chunks)
1 1/2 stick of butter
milk
chopped garlic or garlic powder
salt and pepper
Boil potatoes for about 12-15 minutes. Drain and transfer to a big serving bowl. Add a stick of butter. Mash them with a potato masher (I don't like my potatoes super creamy, I like a smooth-slightly chunky consistency). Add more butter as needed. Add a splash of milk here and there as you mash, until you get the consistency you like. I added at least a cup. Add garlic and salt and pepper to taste. I don't add too much garlic (as I don't want these to be "garlic mashed potatoes"), I just add a small bit for taste.

As far as the actual set-up, most of the serving bowls and platters are my everyday Mikasa "Italian Countryside" dishes, Pyrex, and Corning Wear.  The deviled egg dish is by Wilton  and the little copper three-tiered stand that the bread is on was a great find at World Market years back.  


The little wooden risers are from Pottery Barn a few years back. I found some similar options below.
My "Christmas dishes" with the pretty silver snowflakes are from Target. I got mine a few years back, but they still have the serving dishes.
I think when you have this many dishes grouped together, adding some height is important. Saves you some space, plus it just looks pretty!

We had dinner in the dining room, which looked pretty similar to the home decor tour. I just set out some red cloth placemats, a red holiday candle, and called it done. :)

I was SO surprised to receive these beautiful flowers the day before. They are from my sweet friends, Andrea and her mother, Michele. So thoughtful! They looked perfect in the kitchen. We're still enjoying them.




So that's it! I hope you all had a great holiday! I do have an upcoming "What I Got For Christmas" video in the works! It should go up Friday night, maybe Saturday. Since you guys really enjoyed last year's version, I thought I'd continue the tradition. Or should I say, start a new tradition?

Merry Christmas, Loves! I'm so thankful for you all... For all the support and how wonderful YOU guys make the blog and my videos. This has been such a happy and wonderful place to be and thing I've been able to do the past almost 6 years. It is SO much fun to do and to be able to share my life with you guys. Seriously, thank you. :)
Love you guys.



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11/30/13

A Peek at our Thanksgiving & some November Beauty Favorites

First of all, I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We sure did. It was great to relax at home with family and good food and really just enjoy time together. It's always nice to have a day to really reflect upon all of our blessings and great things we all truly have to be thankful for. My list of "thankfuls" is usually the same...  It's never really about specific material things, but more about things that really matter. Like health, family, having a warm home and full stomachs. Things that can often be taken for granted, but that we should really take the time to be thankful for every day. Stuff that matters. To me, it's just the definition of a "warm n' fuzzy" holiday and I love it.


Can you believe Thanksgiving has already come and gone?? I'm so happy that we're now officially into the holiday season! Did any of you guys venture out for Black Friday? I've said it before, but I'm a Black Friday hermit. I usually shop from home in pj's with a plate (or three) of Thanksgiving leftovers. This year was pretty crazy because I didn't shop at all!
Definitely check out my Holiday Gift Guide here if you missed it! Especially since most of the sales are still going on through Monday at least.

We also got a bit of a head start with our Christmas decor around here too. I always like to have the tree(s) up by Thanksgiving just because we may not always do Christmas dinner at our house and I think it's fun to have a bit of holiday cheer goin' on around here in case there is family that may not have dinner here then. But let's just be honest, the main reason is because Brad and I are big kids when it comes to Christmas and we're usually itching to put the trees up come early November anyway. So it was definitely fun to have that going on too.  We also kept to our usual tradition of putting up our Christmas lights outside on Friday. So we're in full Christmas season mode around here and I love it.

Before we get into my November Favorites for this month, I thought I'd share with you a very small peek into our Thanksgiving day, since this was the first we've hosted at our new home!
I wasn't really planning on doing a blog post, so the photos were all quickly snapped with my iPhone. Keepin' it casual. Much like we like to do Thanksgiving around here.

Here's a shot of the table...

I kept it simple with some disposable placemats. These are SO easy. I use these for every holiday. They come in pads of 50 which seem to last forever. I couldn't find the exact wreath design ones I have but these are pretty darn close. I like to have the cranberry sauce on the table, with some sweet and spicy mustard for the ham and turkey, butter, and some little turkey salt and pepper shakers that were my Grandma's.
Those are my typical chargers/plates/napkin table set I usually have going on, so I kept those out to be pretty. But when dinner time came, we ate on some more simple plates we had that made things super easy.
Yup, that's a tree in the background... I'll show it in my Holiday Home Tour coming up this week!

We had the most delish meal. Turkey, ham, dressing (with my Grandma's special gravy I love), potato salad, green beans, deviled eggs, cranberry sauce, and I made the sweet potato casserole and broccoli casserole. Oh and there was of course, pies and cookies my mom made for dessert.
I live for Thanksgiving food.

Before we ate, I snapped this pic really quick of all the food set up. I think next year, I'll put all of the food on the big island near where the ham and turkey is just to make things easier. We had a lot more room to spread out this year!


And then there's this...


Had to squeeze a Christmas tree in there too of course.
This is our crazy 12-ft mall lobby Christmas tree. It pretty much owns the living room...haha. It's huge and definitely freaked us out at first. But we are kind of in love with it. It's an led tree that has pretty warm white lights that can change to multi-colored at the push of a button. It's pretty awesome.

All of the details will be up next week, along with some much better photos.  I'll be sharing my holiday home tour with you guys showing you all the fun stuff I've put out for the season (and the other trees we have too-- I told you, we're Christmas freaks), since you all loved it so much last year. So I'm really excited for that. Look for a video on my YouTube channel and a post mid-week. ;)

K, so November Favorites... I think I have some especially great picks this month.  Here they are!

My favorites of November...



Hope you all enjoy your weekend!


10/29/13

Some Fall Weekend Fun... And OOTD

So I was looking through our photos we took over the weekend and I had to share...

On Saturday, I wore my new over the knee boots (that I'm absolutely obsessed with) and noticed my outfit was a really easy and classic Fall look. So Brad and I ran outside real quick and took some photos for an OOTD.
Meanwhile, Waylon was running around the backyard playing like crazy. We recently had the backyard at our new house fenced in so he could run around without us worrying about him taking off. So we probably spent half of the weekend in the backyard playing with him.  Of course, I took some precious photos of him.

So here's a few of them... Enjoy Waylon's cute-ness (and the bow-tie)




Weird action shot...haha Waylon was taking off toward the camera.





And here's the OOTD...

Weird time of day to take photos out there. But hey, I don't have all day to wait for the sun to go where I want it. We had a puppy to play with, people.

The ones inside actually came out better! haha




 Just a super simple look. Just realized I'm wearing all my favorite things... My favorite sweater, favorite scarf, favorite jeans, boots, and bag.  Crazy.

details:


So did you all do anything fun this weekend?? Don't miss my new makeup tutorial I posted yesterday! Check that one out here.


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