Best Baby Shower Ever

So I have pretty amazing friends.  This Saturday, they threw me such a lovely, kind and thoughtful shower.  At one point I was afraid I’d never finish opening all the gifts.  There were so many awesome people there, so many friends from all different areas of life and if I could do anything over, I would have taken a pic with each guest who came.  Why didn’t I do this?!  I took a lot of pics of my own shower, because I knew a few gift-opening shots wouldn’t be enough for me.

Me and Blanche.  We worked in the trenches together at Gourmet Pantry 🙂 She is such a lovely person and I’m so glad she’s in our life!


The awesome corsage Kelle made me 🙂  She assured me that a corsage from her wouldn’t be stuffy.  It so wasn’t 🙂

Sweet little Olive cake that Cassie made!

Adorable owl cookies made by Louise


A “mommy advice” tree – so cute!


Adorable party favors made by Anna and Libby

My favorite cream cheese mints made by Louise.


One of the many GORGEOUS arrangements made by Kelle.  They were everywhere, but I sadly didn’t see them all till they came home with me that night.


Invitations


The FOOD!  Made by Becky and everything was delicious.  I heard a friend say, “Best shower food ever”  I think Becky could be a caterer!

Libs helping Becky


Shannon’s cutie idea for the water bottles 🙂


GAH!  Some of my favorite people on the planet!  Look how good we color-coordinate!


Two of the sweetest women on earth.  I did Megan’s wedding a few years ago!  Her mom, Carol is master-quilter and an amazingly Godly woman that I am honored to call a friend.


Shannon and the unstoppable cuteness that is Lucy Mereness


Opening a blanket from my mom.  My sweet friend, Cassie writing everything down that we received.  A tall order!  Thanks, Cass!


The hostess gift – one of the coolest high chairs ever!  Doubles as an infant cradle of sorts.  Can raise to kitchen counter heights – very needed for Matt and me!


Look how gorgeous my friends are!  These are 9 of the most  giving, happy, helpful, Godly, protecting friends a girl could ask for and they were all my hostesses!  Not pictured is the equally wonderful Louise Shoemaker.  We sure missed her presence, but she had obligations at home that she had to tend to.  I need to photoshop her in here 🙂


The adorable sign Shannon had made.  We love you all!

 
Another sweet part of this day was Mom and Dad bringing the crib up from Portales that Dad made.  He and Matt installed it while we were at the shower.  It means so much to me that he has worked hours and hours by himself in his shop to build this for me.  I love you, Dad!  I am by NO means done with the nursery, but once I am, it will be its own post 🙂  My mom has also worked so hard on the bedding, so I can’t wait to get it all set up and pics taken to show off her work as well!  And gift pics are coming, too!  I just wanted to put up a few highlights from my shower.  All the rest of the shower pics are on my facebook page!

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Homemade Granola Bars

I’ve got granola bars in the oven to send with Matt on his 65 mile hike this weekend.  I am pretty sure by the end of the three days, he will loathe the sight of “snack foods,” but I hope during the hike, he will be reminded of the sweetness of home when he has these granola bars for breakfast.  We don’t spend many days apart.  We are each others’ favorite thing.  I would honestly rather be doing nothing with him than doing something with someone else.  Like eating granola bars.

This recipe is easy and wonderfully adaptable.  Take a gander:

Chewy Granola Bars

Makes: 16ish bars, depending on the cut

Ingredients:

4 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup AP flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
12 tbs butter (1.5 sticks – melted.  It’s a lot of dry ingredients, don’t panic)
3/4 cup honey (I warm it up in the microwave slightly to be easily mixed)
2 cups of mix-ins.  Whatever you prefer.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325

Mix all the dry ingredients together.   Add the vanilla, melted butter and honey and mix well.  This part takes some dedication – I think the best thing to use is a wooden spoon.  It’s just a lot of dry ingredients and it needs to be mixed pretty thoroughly.  After well incorporated and no super sandy oats are left at the bottom of the bowl (they lurk – dig for them), mix in whatever you love the most.  I typically use dried fruits.  For this batch, I used dried prunes, apricots, blueberries, cherries and cranberries (all dry – I think fresh berries would be too wet.)  Two cups’ worth.  I dump the fruit in and mix it all up with my hands.  I like touching my food.  However, you could substitute one of the cups of mix-ins with a cup of dark chocolate chips or cashews or toasted coconut – the options are really endless.

Press mixture into a greased, 9×13″ pan.  I press it down pretty firmly so I can have more solid bars.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown on top.  Let cool COMPLETELY before cutting, or they will crumble apart.  I  dumped a bunch of dark chocolate chips on top of the bars as soon as they came out of the oven and once the chips melted, I spread it around to make a smooth topping.  The chocolate firms up when cooled and you have an awesome chocolately top layer on your granola bars and at least two or three more people who like you better than before you let them try one.

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2012

Things I want to accomplish in 2012:

  1. Learn how to roller blade.  I don’t know how to do any kind of activity that involves making my feet go faster than they should.  This includes skiing of all terrains (snow, water),  skating – ice or roller, and running.  Running had a short but glorious stint that started and ended in kindergarten.  It lasted long enough for me to come in first in the 50 yard dash.
  2. Keep up guitar.  I’m really enjoying it and far too many new moms give the mom excuse for quitting things they used to love doing.
  3. Read at least 5 books – real books, not baby or self-help or cookbooks.  5 might seem low to you, but I’m a VERY easily distracted reader, although I do love reading.  And with a new baby needing my services every few hours, I will have even more distractions.  But I want to keep reading so that I can keep participating in the outside world.
  4. Drop baby weight plus 20 more.  This will take me back down to where I was before 2011 began and I stayed pregnant all year.  Of course I need to lose more, but I want to keep realistic goals.
  5. Have a baby that is happy and sleeps through the night by 3 months.  Oh, it CAN be done.  I’ve read Baby Wise.  Feel free to not comment on this one, especially if you’re a mom ; )  I don’t like my dreams beat down right away.
  6. Book 6 more weddings.  I already have 6 in the books for 2012, but I’d like 12 .  Seems like a good number for me for a year with a new baby.  I also want to focus more on doing just weddings and get better at them.
  7. I want to stick to my resolution to take one day at a time.  I get so caught up in worrying about the future that I find myself fretting for hours at a time about things I have absolutely no control over!  I see the potential, if not addressed, for this habit to really wreak havoc on my new family.  No one wants or needs a mom who worries about every little thing and from what I’ve heard, babies can feel anxiety whether you state your worries out loud or not!   This resolution should just be called: Be More Like Matt

I think 7 is enough.  If I kept going for making it to 10’s sake, I’d just start putting things like, “make my bed every day!” So I stop here.  Hold me to these!  What are your goals for this year?

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Upholstering a Door

I’ve wanted to do this project for a few months.  I saw an article in Martha Stewart Living where they simply drove tacks into a door for decoration and while the door wasn’t upholstered, it gave me the idea to add padding and a great fabric instead of going through the dreaded task of painting a door.

I chose a teal vinyl tablecloth for the fabric for several reasons.  1. I’m addicted to teal, 2. It looks like leather and 3. It was cheaper than leather by about 5x.  I had originally taken the closet door off its hinges and stored it in the garage because I had grand ideas for making the inside of my closet 100% organized and stylish for my clients to see how well I have it all together.  As most closets go, it was super organized about one day out of the month.  Also, with the coming addition to our family, I noticed all over my house, multiple areas that needed better baby-proofing.  So I started with the closet door.

I wouldn’t have driven a hundred holes into a nice door – it looked like this before I started:

I also removed the doorknob because I wanted to fix a knocker in the center of the door to get a nice old England vibe going, and to avoid having to upholster around a doorknob.

I started by laying the door on the floor of our living room and coating it with fabric glue.  I then laid down a piece of quilter’s batting (heavy loft) and trimmed along the edges to make it fit perfectly.  Then, I moved the door to my dining table to begin the process of covering it with the vinyl.  This step wasn’t so easy and it wasn’t until my dad came to the rescue that I actually got the hang of how to do it.  You see, he is a master craftsman and has been a carpenter his whole life and has upholstered his fair share of couches, chairs, etc.  So he brought his industrial staple gun (a life saver) and compressor and lent me a BIG set of hands to pull the vinyl tight enough so that there were no bumps or creases and we stapled the vinyl along the sides of the door.

Once it was completely covered, we sketched out a design for the rivets and stapled that design down, which is an insanely genius move on my dad’s part.  My talented friend, Kelle, who also knows a thing or two about home decor, told me that in order to save my sanity, I’d BETTER order nail head trim, instead of buying 1,000+ tacks at my local leather shop.  Wise girl.  The nail head trim looks perfect and you only have to nail down every 5th tack.  It’s about $15 for a 10 yard roll!  Once I was done, I screwed the antique door knocker I bought off Etsy to the center and voila – a really expensive looking door for about $50 total!

The nail trim – looks legit!

The antique door knocker:

The finished product!

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Eating words

I’ve been culinarily stunned in three ways, recently.  The first was by finishing a wonderful book entitled Heat, by Bill Buford.  He quit his job as a writer for the New Yorker to work for Mario Batali and his restaurant, Babbo, and eventually moved to Italy to further learn how to cook pastas, learn to be a butcher and all the while, do research for writing his book.  Near the end of the book, he writes a thought about cooking and about the possibility of owning a restaurant and I felt while reading it, that I’d finally found a voice to answer the question Matt and I get asked on a monthly basis: Why don’t you guys open a restaurant already?!

“When I started, I didn’t want a restaurant.  What I wanted was the know-how of people who ran restaurants.  I didn’t want to be a chef: just a cook.  And my experiences in Italy had taught me why.  For millennia, people have known how to make their food.  They have understood animals and what to do with them, have cooked with the seasons and had a farmer’s knowledge of the way the planet works.  They have preserved traditions of preparing food, handed down through generations, and have come to know them as expressions of their families.  People don’t have this kind of knowledge today, even though it seems as fundamental as the earth, and, it’s true, those who do have it tend to be professionals–like chefs.  But I didn’t want this knowledge in order to be a professional; just to be more human.”

That is exactly it.  I am fascinated by cooking and learning as much as I can about food and food preparation because it links me to the past – to what people have been doing for generations and what my generation makes ever more difficult to achieve by its shortcuts and 30 minute meals and food that can live in a box.  I’m not against time-saving methods, but I think that just focusing on saving time is missing the point of cooking for your family.  That brings me to another quote from Heat that is just spot-on:

“Food made by hand is an act of defiance and runs contrary to everything in our modernity.  Find it; eat it; it will go.  It has been around for millennia.  Now it is evanescent, like a season.”

The second stunner came from a recent episode of No Reservations on the Travel Channel.  Tony ventures to Louisiana, around the New Orleans area and spends a couple of days with some locals out at a farm.  The big event is the killing and preparing of a whole pig.  But for an entire day before the pig’s sacrifice, everyone prepares the side dishes for the feast.  You see about 10 different cooks – all cooking in cast iron over fire, some on bbq grills, and each has a very specific and very important task.  From making a pot of coveted Étouffée to making a simple corn succotash, no dish is less important than the other.  Kids run around the yard, taste-test the food being cooked and a quartet of banjo, accordion, guitar and fiddle accompany the preparations.  The people playing the instruments are also cooks – everyone cooks.  Everyone has an opinion and a heated debate breaks out about the proper way to stew turtle meat.  The next day at 6 a.m., after saying a prayer over the pig, Tony is given the task to kill it.  It’s a clean kill and in seconds, a group of 6 or so men get to the job of preparing this animal: cleaning it, saving the blood for boudin noir, dividing up the meat into seemingly dozens of portions and assigning each of the cooks a cut of meat to prepare.  It’s fascinating to watch this humble animal, deeply respected and therefore, used of every single part it has to offer, eventually used to feed between 40 and 60 people.  Matt and I basically had our jaws on the floor the entire episode.  We were humbled by seeing so many people working in the heat for the culmination of the meal.  We are currently recruiting friends who like to cook as much as we do.  We have three or four but we’d like 15 at least…who live HERE.  🙂

The third stunning moment came the second I picked up the book, The Supper of the Lamb, by Robert Farrar Capon.

I’m only a few chapters in, but I’ve already found immense wisdom on food preparation and dizzying theology concerning the concept and reason and respect for cooking.  This book had me observing the complexities of a shallot before I chopped it up for dinner tonight.  It has me saying “amen” on almost every page and it makes me want to be a better steward of life and food in general, which is quite something for just four chapters of a book.  Here are some compelling quotes so far:

“To be sure, food keeps us alive, but that is only its smallest and most temporary work.  Its eternal purpose is to furnish our sensibilities against the day when we shall sit down at the heavenly banquet and see how gracious the Lord is. Nourishment is necessary only for a while; what we shall need forever is taste.”

“The poor man may envy the rich their houses, their lands, and their cars; but given a good wife, he rarely envies them their table.  The rich man dines festally (lavish), but unless he is an exceptional lover of being – unless he has the soul of a poet and a saint – his feasts are too often only single: They delight the palate, but not the intellect.  They are greeted with a deluxe but mindless attention: “What was it, dear, sirloin or porterhouse?” Every dish in the ferial (meager) cuisine, however, provides a double or treble delight: Not only is the body nourished and the palate pleased, the mind is intrigued by the triumph of ingenuity over scarcity – by the making of slight materials into a considerable matter.  A man can do worse than be poor. He can miss altogether the sight of the greatness of small things

Isn’t that amazing?  I’m excited to finish this book. I may do a proper “book review” after and I encourage anyone who loves food and cooking to pick up this book today.

I hope everyone is inspired by something this week.  Be it the cooler weather, the foretaste of the fall to come and with it, ciders, stews and oatmeal cookies, or just a book that challenges you to think differently and to be a better version of yourself.

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Sausage Fest 2011

We had the most amazing little road trip with Matt and Anna last week.  We started in Abilene and made our way through little TX towns to Austin and then back up.  I’m going to post most of the text from our tumblr account written about the places we visited and then stick in the more “fancy” photos I took.

Perini’s in Abilene, TX

We had dinner at Perini’s, which the waitress cautioned us is a working ranch. From what I can tell, they raise cats! The wood fired steaks were wonderful (mine was a perfect rare), and the burgers lived up to the hype. The bread pudding had a great balance of whiskey and vanilla flavor, and was made how I always hope it will be (heavy on the sauce). More than anything, it was nice to be together again after so long!  -Palmsey

Coopers BBQ in Mason, TX:

Cooper’s is known for their pork chops but have numerous other choices. We sampled just about everything and found the pork chops to be one of our least favorite. The meats that we felt we could repeatedly put in our mouth from this place were the brisket, chicken, jalapeño sausage, and ribs. On a side note, here’s a math problem: Palmsey’s age + Mrs. Palmsey’s age + Zatt’s age + Tiny Zatt’s age = the next youngest person in the dining area here at Cooper’s. Now, we are off to Fredricksburg! – (written by Anna)

Fredericksburg:

We did a lot here and not much included bbq joints.  We sampled olive oils, chocolates, wines and German cuisine.  It was also Stupid Shirt Day.  So here is a sampling of our time in and around Fredericksburg:

Olive oils

Chocolate shop

Example 1 of Stupid Shirt Day – Matt Ray

Anna’s milkshake brings all the boys to Fredericksburg

Matt’s home sweet home in this returning classic

What’s more patriotic than a Maltese?

Stupid shirt couple photos

Always out-hammed by the Zatts

A cute little bakery where we got muffins for breakfast for the next day.

After roaming around downtown Fredericksburg, tasting jams, dips and various salsas that 400 other people were trying, too, we headed out of town about 20 miles to Becker Vineyard. The grounds were beautiful and lavender fields spread out behind the main tasting building.

We all bought a tasting ticket and tried several varieties that I didn’t know Becker even made. Beyond our beloved claret and malbec, we sampled some great tempranillo, grenache, zinfandel, barbera and a reserve cabernet from a vineyard near our west Texas home. Unfortunately, many of these are only sold at the winery. If you get a chance, try their signature red blend, “Raven” – it is lovely and would have gone great with some of the steaks from last night!

So far Fredericksburg has been charming and reminds me a bit of Napa Valley. Except for the hundred degree heat!

Becker Winery

The lavender fields behind Becker Winery

Dinner at the Auslander

For dinner in Fredericksburg, we ate at Auslander Biergarten Restaurant (across from the Nimitz Pacific War museum). You might ask yourself, “With thousands of German restaurants in Fredericksburg, why Auslander?” First, it sounds like Saveur editor-in-chief and Top Chef Masters judge James Osland runs the place (quite fabulously!). Second, a brochure promised those massive 64-oz. glasses of beer! (I never bought one…I chickened out.)

Feasting in the shadow of a wall of cuckoo clocks and stuffed moose/elk heads, we devoured several plates of meat slathered in red wine gravy. The ladies’ wienerschnitzel was crispy, Palmsey’s pepperwurst was the perfect accompaniment to spicy mustard and sauerkraut, and my rouladen (pickles, onions, and mustard rolled into beef) was fantastic…and I think it had some corned beef or pastrami inside it.

Many online reviews blasted the place for tasting like German cafeteria food, but we agreed that 1) it was exactly what we needed after a long day of travel, walking sidewalks with throngs of middle-aged tourists, and dealing with the Hill Country’s oppressive heat, and 2) let’s face it: it ain’t Le Bernardin and doesn’t pretend to be. Overall, I’d be willing to kinda overlook that whole Nazi thing due to the food being so tasty (I said “KINDA!)

Looking forward to Austin!

– Matt Ray

Weinerschnitzel, spaetzle and gravy.  Can’t get much more comforting than that.

Me taking a pic of Matt taking a pic.

The pic Matt took as I took a pic of him taking this pic.

Blanco, TX:

We’d read about the Blanco Bowling Club Cafe and how they have pies to write home about.  We hoped to get to bowl to work off some awful calorie packing we’d done, but it was just for league bowlers certain nights of the week.  The waitress was super cool and told us that we could go “behind the curtain” and look at the lanes.  It was super awesome of her and really fun to see the ancient lanes!

Coconut cream pie – it was absolutely as good as it looked.  Creamy, slightly warm coconut curd and fluffy as air meringue with toasted coconut on top.

Dark chocolate cream pie with that same incredible meringue

Tart cherry – it was the least “wow” but it was a great pie.  Obviously no fake fillings in this joint.

Anna has a pic of us doing this same thing (I think)

Blanco has so much small town charm.  They could really film a movie here as it seems stuck in the past.  Oh wait, they did:

The courthouse where the Rooster trial was filmed.  Unexpected find in beautiful Blanco!

On to Austin:

First stop, Home Slice Pizza.  Austin wasn’t really an exploration of bbq joints.  Sorry.  It has too much to restrict ourselves.  Home Slice has NY style pizzas with folding-size slices and incredibly high quality toppings.

Much like the rest of Austin, Home Slice is quirky.  Down to the coloring projects for children – a “color Hall and Oates”, which we decided to make into a competition among the couples and had our waiter judge.  Behold, two very different sets of Hall and Oates:

Matt and Anna’s.  Quasimodo and Tom Selleck?

Mine and Matt’s: Hall and Oates or John Travolta and Lionel Richie?

My favorite comment about these pics came from Paul Hunton after Matt texted him this photo:

Anna Ray wins since she made him look like a sexual deviant (second drawing, Oates #1) I’m about 80% sure Alisa’s drawing is racist (Oates, or Lional Richie)  Matt P. wins the silver medal and Matt R is 40 years too late. – Paul Hunton

Needless to say, we got tons of laughs from our first Sausage Fest competition. I guess the stupid shirts could be another competition – any votes on the worst?

This next part is going to be brief. I thought, in a completely sober state, that doing a baby shoot with Matt Ray would be near the funniest thing I’ve ever done in my life.  I was correct.  We swaddled him with the hotel comforter.  Here’s a pic of me in action:

And here’s the three best from our shoot.  I did black and white as we weren’t exactly dealing with the greatest colors.  I’m only posting three because I don’t want to disturb the readers TOO much:

There really is no good way to transition after those photos so…then we went to three food trucks later that night!  That’s right, three.

Torchy’s Tacos!

Anna got the Trailer Trash (fried chicken, queso and green chilis), Matt Ray got the Dirty Sanchez (eggs, poblanos, carrots) and the American (fried chicken, pineapple slaw and bacon) Matt P also got the American and the Jerk (chicken, fried jalapeño, cilantro) and I got the Baja (fried shrimp, pico, and ranch) and the Fried Avocado (implied) and we all got some awesome green chili queso to share. Awesome late night snackery!

After Torchy’s, we went to a dive bar called Liberty because associated with Liberty is East Side Kings – one of the greatest food trucks around.  They serve Asian style steamed buns filled with various, amazing things.

Mine was fried chicken, basil, cilantro and a Thai spicy sauce

Matt P got his with pork belly

“That was all my favorite foods rolled into one. A flavor-gasm. – Matt Ray about the peanut butter curry bun from East Side King.”

The last food truck stop (at 1 a.m.) was at the OTHER East Side Kings to try their bowl o’ ramen.

And here’s what Matt P had to say about the food truck experience:

We stopped by The Liberty Bar on east 6th street tonight. It was skeezy-looking enough that we had some second thoughts, but I’m so glad we went. Everyone was super nice, and as Stefan would say, this place has it all: cheap PBR, a jukebox, IPA on tap, teddy graham people, friendly pups running around, and the reason we came here, East Side King. This little food truck in the back of the bar serves up the type of food you might expect to find at a David Chang restaurant – pork buns, fried Brussels sprouts, curries, and in general a strange mix of Asian flavors and down home ingredients such as fried chicken, beets, and mayo. We had seen the place on the “Heartland” special of No Reservations, and I was excited to try anything that came with such a hearty recommendation from Anthony Bourdain.

The steamed buns filled with pork belly and cucumber kimchi were my favorite, and Alisa preferred the ones with fried chicken and spicy Thai mayo. Matt was very happy with the deep fried peanut butter curry buns. This place gives a while new meaning to “bar food.”

We even hit up another East Side King outpost in the neighborhood on our way home. The dressed up instant ramen and pork belly ssam were great, but it’s hard to compete with something as fabulous as the original location.

Tomorrow we visit the town that has become synonymous with Texas-style barbecue: Lockhart!

I’m going to stop here with this post.  Because it’s already freakishly long and because the next installment has such mouth-frothing passionate views about Lockhart BBQ that it needs its own separate space. Stay tuned…

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Filed under Eating Adventures, Food Stuffs, General Hoo-Ha, Trips

Brownie Battle 2011

We had the very first annual Brownie Battle this past weekend.  Matt had talked about wanting to have a brownie competition for some time, for no other reason than to find an even more perfect  brownie than the one he already had.  So we put out the summons and people responded very well!  We had about 25 people participate and some just come to taste and there were roughly 15 different types of brownies to try! At first we were going to have it outside at a park, but with the temps in the triple digits, Matt pointed out that drinking milk and eating chocolate in the heat might not be the best idea.  So last minute, we moved it inside to Smooth Fusion, which was just the right size for everyone to get cozy, talk and eat crazy amounts of brownies.   The participants and their brownies!

I voted for Summer’s as being the best.  It had a velvety texture and was just so…different.  Found out she used the back of the box recipe on the Ghirardelli brownie mix, only doubled the salt and vanilla and used dark brown sugar instead of light.  She won Best Traditional!

Matt and his favorite – dark chocolate brownies with melted chocolate toffee bars on top.  These got a lot of votes and was tied up TWICE for best traditional brownie

Louise was very ambitious.  These are two of her submissions.  She brought three.  The one on the left is the Kahlua Cheesecake Brownies and on the right are Chipotle Brownies with a layer of dulce de leche in the middle and on top.  Amazing.  She took home the gold(en) prize for the kahlua cheesecake brownies!

Rod and Jill and their strong contender.  It really got a lot of points.  A very classic, rich brownie!  (with a sample already gone)

Tim and Lindsey and the most amazing brownie with salted caramel!  They almost won (by like 2 votes) the best creative brownie.  Kahlua will get you every time 🙂

Jennifer and her ambitious entries – on the left, snickerdoodle brownies (and she made home made snickerdoodle ice cream to go with it!) and on the right, a classic brownie with chocolate icing.  She ended up winning Prettiest Brownie for her Snickerdoodle brownies, but she got a lot of votes for regular favorite, too!

Cassie, Nixon and their traditional (and amazing) double chocolate brownies.

Jonathan, the baker, and his amazing version with ground cherries and toasted walnuts.  These were astoundingly good.

Shannon with Peanut Butter Nutella brownies.  This girl loves her Nutella.  They were awesome, of course!

Kelson had heat exhaustion (he participated in a triathlon earlier that morning), I think because he stared at me like this every time I talked to him, haha.  He brought golden brownies – like a glorified sugar cookie!

Philip and his brownie/caramel/pecan concoction of awesome.

I am not pictured because while I did submit brownies for judging, they sucked.  I didn’t let them finish baking and they really suffered in texture.  I’ve since eaten some after letting them settle in the pan for a couple days and they are chewy and awesome but that day, they were a bit grody.

 Jill enjoying Nixon

 Danielle and Ty made it!

Richard, Louise and Shannon

 Sweet Cass

The traditional side of the brownie display.  So this category couldn’t include anything too crazy.  Just simple chocolate on chocolate action, maybe some nuts, toffee, coffee, etc.

The creative side.  Snickerdoodles, chipotle, salted caramel, cheesecake, Kahlua, etc.

Ashley and Audrey.

An example of a tasting plate.

Kelle had a little somethin’ on her teeth…

We voted with poker chips.  Blue chips = your top fav, Red chips = second fav, White chips = third and Green chips were for “prettiest” or really, just an excuse to give out another award 🙂

Who wins for worst fake smile?  🙂

Nixon should have got the Most Cuddly award.  Thank you, Cassie, for letting us all pass him around!

Handing out awards

Louise won the coveted Golden Whisk for her Kahlua Cheesecake Brownies!

Some of my awesome clients even came!  Rika and Joseph and Gunnar Brake

Taking home the spoils!

So what should the next battle be?  Enchiladas?  Sliders?  Cast your vote in the comments!

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