Thursday, July 28, 2011

Engagement Cupcakes

On Friday, Mr. G and I invited his brother and soon-to-be sister-in-law over for dinner to celebrate their recent engagement. Naturally, I took advantage of the situation to bake some cupcakes. ;) I used my Easter strawberry cupcakes recipe because it was Mr. G's brother's favorite. I made 34, however, so the lucky couple got to take a bunch home with them! Haha whoops. I used my amateur decorating skills to top each little pink cupcake with a white heart and pearls... Until I got tired of making hearts and just topped the rest with a swirl. These are fun cupcakes to make, if you haven't tried the recipe. And what's even better is that they have fresh strawberries in them, which makes them divine.

I got a last-minute invite to a baby shower on Sunday, so I brought over the rest of my cupcakes since I didn't have enough time to get a present. I love when things work themselves out. This is truly turning out to be the summer of weddings and babies, but I don't mind because I enjoy a good celebration. The shower was lots of fun, and the cupcakes were a hit. The only downside is that they were pink, and the baby is a boy.... At least there was a themed cake, and it was adorable - it even had little fondant booties!

Anyone know a good cake/cupcake decorating class in the MSP area?? :)

<3 Mrs. G

(Really Belated) Sunday Recipe #5 - Summer Apple Salad

Hello everyone!

Sorry for the late recipe, but to be fair I did only make it last night for Mr. G's grandpa's 80th birthday party. Mr. G and I have been on a salad kick lately, which I think our bodies appreciate. I made one last week with leftover grilled chicken, cucumbers, onions, bell peppers, and cheese topped with a red wine and olive oil vinaigrette. It was delicious, but I wanted to try something a little more challenging for the party. I was inspired by a popular salad at the Italian restaurant where I used to work. It's called Apple Gorgonzola Salad, but I tweaked it a little to make it my own. It's the perfect summer salad, and it's especially great for those who want to indulge in something sweet without the calories of a cupcake. ;)

Summer Apple Salad Recipe:

  • 3 heads romaine lettuce
  • 2 green apples
  • 8 oz. crumbled goat cheese (the original recipe calls for gorgonzola, but Mr. G and I prefer goat)
  • 2 small bags of glazed walnuts and dried cranberries (I bought them together in a bag, but feel free to purchase them separately - I just couldn't find any glazed walnuts by themselves)
  • Pinches of cinnamon
  • Dressing - I loved Marzetti's white balsamic vinaigrette, but Mr. G enjoyed Litehouse's raspberry walnut vinaigrette. You choose!
  • Rinse and cut lettuce heads into bite-size portions, excluding the tops.
  • Rinse and cut apples into bite-size portions (cut in quarters, slice each quarter in half, then cut into smaller portions).
  • Drop a few pinches of cinnamon in each cranberry/walnut bag and shake to mix (or mix in a ziploc bag if you bought the ingredients separately).
  • Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl. 
  • Top with dressing and serve cold.
  • I would guess this serves 6 as a main dish and 10-12 as a side salad. Mine fed about 20 in very small portions, and there was plenty leftover.
After a delicious dinner last night of grilled chicken, fruit salad, my salad, and veggies, I went to my very first legit tent circus. It was a family-run circus called Culpepper & Meriweather's, and they set up shop in the middle of a field, in the middle of nowhere. It was straight out of an old movie; I didn't know those types of circuses still existed! I went with Mr. G's youngest siblings, and it was their first circus. I still remember my first circus... It was a Barnum & Bailey's, and I went with my dad when I was really little. I don't remember the acts, but I do remember the cotton candy, which took me all night to finish. They had cotton candy last night, but I didn't partake this time around. I did, however, have some delicious birthday cake when I got back - a flourless chocolate cake made by Mr. G's mom. 

In the midst of everything else going on last night, I also received an amazing belated wedding gift from one of Mr. G's relatives. Apparently she took a lot of photos at the wedding, because she put together an entire album of wedding photos and even made a video slideshow not only of the wedding but also of all the details (invitations, programs, welcome bags), the reception, and my bridal shower in MN. It was such a thoughtful gift, and I was so happy to see some of the photos the photographer was unable to capture (ie: a close-up of our vows and our first kiss!). The funny thing, too, is that Mr. G and I had finally watched our official wedding video in its entirety for the first time a couple nights ago - and now we have two! Plus, this is our first wedding photo album. :) I'm hoping to have one made by our photographer as well, plus I would like to put together a scrapbook. Maybe now I'll get on the ball with those!

I hope you enjoy the salad recipe! Feel free to comment with any of your own - I'd love some more to try.

Stay tuned for my next post on engagement / baby shower cupcakes. ;) Have I mentioned I love summer?

<3 Mrs. G

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

In the Heat of Summer...

Hello all,

I hope you all have been having a much cooler week than me... We've been having record high temperatures and humidity all week, but especially today - we were at a dew point of 82 in the Twin Cities (highest ever) with a heat index of 119. 119?!?! This is Minnesota, not the Middle East!! Also, we definitely played volleyball tonight, I definitely sweated buckets, and I definitely walked into the lake afterwards with my clothes on. As for our team's record, it isn't so spotless anymore... I guess Team Adequate was the right name after all. We were playing pretty well tonight until we faced Team Fit 'n' Tan, who put us right back in our place. I blame it on the heat...

In other, much more exciting news, Mr. G's brother got engaged! Yay!! I've been in wedding withdrawal for almost a year, so I'm pumped. They're great together, too, which makes me happy for them. I'm always glad to see a girl find her own Mr. G. ;) My cousin got married this summer as well, but unfortunately I was unable to make it to the wedding. Regardless, family weddings are a joyous occasion, and I'm very much looking forward to another one.

I've also been putting together a bucket list... At first I thought they were kinda pointless, but then I remembered how much I love making lists - this is the ultimate list! I'll post it once I have more stuff on it, but in the meantime, feel free to comment with your bucket list essentials. Mine is a little sparse still. And no, skydiving is not on there, nor will it ever be. That doesn't mean I'll never do it, but I don't like the pressure.

One last thing: I got a Tumblr! Yet another thing I thought was pointless at first, but I'm kind-of obsessed with it now. It's a great creative outlet that can take as much or as little time as you want to spend on it. It's also cool because you can literally post whatever you want - photos, video, audio, quotes, blogs... The options are endless. If you want to follow me (and you should!), I'll give you a hint - it has the same name as my blog. But to make it more convenient for you, here is the link. Check it out! Anyone else have a Tumblr and love it? I'll follow you. :)

<3 Mrs. G

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sunday Recipe #4 - Three Cheese Manicotti

Hi everyone!

I've been lazy again this week with recipes, so I'm posting yet another old favorite from Connecticut - three cheese manicotti. In addition to Mexican, I also have a strong love for Italian food. I actually worked at an Italian restaurant for four years, and I never once got tired of the food. I could live off of baked pasta, bean dip, and pico de gallo for the rest of my life. However, I would also weigh 300 pounds, so....

This recipe is especially cheesy and unhealthy, which makes it especially delicious. I wouldn't recommend it for people with heart problems... Honestly.


  • 20 manicotti shells
  • 2 cartons (15 oz. each) ricotta cheese
  • 5 cups (20 oz.) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp seasoned salt
  • 2 jars (26 oz. each) spaghetti sauce (three cheese sauce by Classico is really good)
  • Cook shells according to package directions.
  • Preheat oven to 375.
  • Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, 3 cups mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, eggs, and seasonings. 
  • Drain shells.
  • Spread 1 cup spaghetti sauce each into two ungreased baking pans (I used 1 9x13 and 1 9x9).
  • Stuff manicotti shells with cheese mixture - I do this by splitting the shells down the middle, stuffing them with a couple tbsp of the cheese mixture, folding the shells back over, and placing them seam down in the pans.
  • Top shells with remaining sauce.
  • Cover pans (don't forget this or you'll get crispy pasta!) and bake at 375 for 40 minutes.
  • Uncover, sprinkle with remaining cheese, and bake 5-10 minutes longer or until heated through and cheese is melted.
  • Enjoy! This serves about 6.
Feel free to post any other yummy pasta recipes you recommend! I'm really craving manicotti now... 

<3 Mrs. G

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The End of an Era: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Early yesterday morning, at approximately 2:15 central time, the last remaining piece of my childhood came to an abrupt and ceremonious end as the credits started rolling on the final movie of the Harry Potter saga. It was a bittersweet ending - more bitter than sweet, though. This was the series that first taught me how to believe - and not just in magic. This is the series that first taught me to appreciate literary technique and inspired me to become a writer. 

J.K. Rowling randomly got the idea for Harry Potter while riding alone one night on a train to London in 1990. She began writing the first book that night and, seven years later, got it published. In the meantime, she lost her mother to multiple sclerosis - an event which only increased her connection to and emotional investment into orphan Harry Potter. She also got married and had a daughter, and even while teaching (and of course parenting) full-time, she was able to finish the book that - unbeknownst to her - would change the world. I think we all know how the story goes from there.
Here's a link to an article from Christianity Today that I really enjoyed. The author (John Granger - no pun intended) has a smart and unique perspective on the genius of Rowling as well as the lasting power of the series.
To all the writers: we could take a page out of Rowling's book (literally).
To all the Harry Potter fans: mischief managed. ;)
<3 Mrs. G

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sunday Recipe #3 - Healthy Chicken Pasta

Hello all!

I hope you've had a lovely weekend. I had a relaxing one - I slept in, went swimming, and went out to eat with Mr. G and some friends. Nothing crazy, but it was great. We were due a chill weekend.

To keep with the theme of my weekend, I'm posting a ridiculously simple recipe tonight. It also happens to be one of Mr. G's favorites - we eat it once a week. What makes it even better is it's actually super healthy. The best time to make this pasta is when you have leftover chicken, which - if you're like us - you always have. We pretty much live on a chicken diet.

Healthy Chicken Pasta:
  • Ingredients:
    • 1 box penne pasta (penne is Mr. G's favorite, but bow tie and linguine are also good)
    • 2 cooked chicken breasts - grilled chicken is healthiest
    • 1-2 cups broccoli (I don't measure - put however much you like)
    • Olive oil
  • Directions:
    • Cook/grill chicken, if not already cooked.
    • Cook pasta according to box directions.
    • While pasta is cooking, cut chicken breasts into cubes and cook broccoli (we just microwave frozen broccoli). Cut broccoli if desired.
    • Strain pasta when it is finished cooking, then add chicken and broccoli and toss to mix.
    • Divide pasta onto plates and top with olive oil. I also use parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning.
    • Enjoy! This recipe serves 2-3.
Speaking of recipes, I finally used my rhubarb crisp recipe! I baked one with raspberries a couple nights ago when Mr. G's grandparents came over for dinner. It looked a little undercooked when it came out of the oven, but it tasted delicious, so I consider it a success! It's especially good with vanilla ice cream and French vanilla whipped cream. Yum!

In other news, is anyone else going to see the last Harry Potter movie this week? I'm going at midnight on Thursday (with poor Mr. G in tow) and I can't wait! I love Harry Potter, and I don't care if that makes me a nerd. I grew up reading the books, and I've loved them ever since. I'm going to attempt to watch all seven movies before Thursday, but so far I've only managed to watch the first one - I have a long way to go. Marathon anyone??

<3 Mrs. G

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

State Shutdown & Wedding Season

Hello everyone!

I hope you're all surviving your post-4th week - if you're not still celebrating, that is. I've noticed traffic has been significantly lighter the last couple of days, which I've attributed to typical post-holiday vacation, but I suppose it could also be because thousands of government workers are without a job. If you haven't heard, the Minnesota government shut down early Friday morning of last week due to budget disagreements - a.k.a. Governor Dayton's obstinance, as some see it. As a result, all state parks and rest stops are closed (imagine how that went over on the 4th), over 20,000 people are laid off (the most in state history), and it is costing the government millions of dollars every day they stay closed as well as continuing to slow down the economy (which will only lead to more budget disagreements, I'm sure). Gotta love the irony of a government shutdown right before Independence Day... So much for patriotism, but I'm sure the anarchists partied extra hard over the weekend - and probably did so illegally in the state parks. C'est la vie.

One thing that hasn't been affected by state shutdowns (or anything for that matter) is an annual event that provokes both excitement and dread among people nationwide - wedding season. It runs from May to October but is heaviest in June and July. Anyone with a Facebook has undoubtedly already witnessed wedding season in full swing as friends/acquaintances/randos make their relationships "Facebook official" right after popping the question / getting hitched as well as post incessant status updates about invitations, dress shopping, family drama, an up-to-the-minute guest count, and of course, the solicitation of RSVPs.

I can't pretend to have been immune to bridezilla syndrome. The symptoms are high stress levels, uncharacteristically excessive social media usage, mild panic attacks, and occasional outbursts on innocent bystanders (often the groom). I attempted to suppress my crazy by intentionally limiting my tweets and Facebook posts, keeping a wedding blog for those who cared to know all the details (as well as for myself), and talking everything through with poor Mr. G. One thing that's cool about being a bride is the support group - you become reacquainted with old friends and classmates who are also getting married and provide one another with encouragement and advice; plus they are people who don't mind sharing in your excitement since they feel it, too.

My first anniversary is actually coming up in September (yay!), so Mr. G and I have decided to take a trip down to Nashville over Labor Day weekend - we booked our flights tonight since they were the cheapest we've seen in over a month. I'm so excited! I haven't been home since January. We plan to stay at a nice hotel on our anniversary night (September 4th), but the rest of the time we'll stay with my parents. The best news is that my cake topper is still in my parents' freezer (thanks to our nomadic lifestyle), so Mr. G and I will actually get to eat our wedding cake on our anniversary! I'm sure it will taste terrible, but it's the thought that counts...

For all those getting engaged/married this summer - Congrats! I hope you enjoy every moment, I wish you all the blessings in the world, and I look forward to creeping on your wedding photos when you post them on Facebook. ;)

Feel free to comment with any funny/crazy bridezilla moments you've seen (or experienced firsthand) as well as opinions about the MN government fail.

<3 Mrs. G

Monday, July 4, 2011

Cabin Vacation & Holiday Weekend

Hi everyone!

I hope you've all been enjoying the long weekend and have fun plans for tomorrow! As for me, I'll be going to a nearby lake with Mr. G and some friends (and Molly, of course). We'll be grilling hot dogs, swimming in the lake, and watching fireworks. Pretty standard 4th of July stuff. I'm excited, though - the weather finally warmed back up in time for the holiday weekend.

While we were at the cabin last week, it was chilly and rainy basically all week. We were pretty far up north at Lake Vermillion, but I was still hoping for warmer weather. We got one nice day and took full advantage of it - Mr. G and I came back burnt and bug-bitten. But we still had a good time. The guys went fishing a lot, and I even went a few times! It was my first time actually fishing, and I ended up catching a total of 10 fish - 9 in one day. They were all small perch, but I was still pleased with myself. :)

my best catch - a fat perch

As for the rest of the week, I spent it reading, playing Wii with the kids, watching McHale's Navy, and I even fit in some shopping. I finally read a book my mom gave to me back when I moved to Connecticut - Whistlin' Dixie in a Nor'easter. She had read it as part of her book club and even got to meet the author, Lisa Patton, who happens to live in my hometown. She gave it to me because it's about a Southern girl struggling to adapt to life in New England (Vermont, specifically). Although the New England portrayed in the book was nothing like the New England I experienced (less maple syrup; more Jersey shore), it was still a fun read that was perfect for a vacation up north. Also, I did survive a couple nor'easters in CT, and they were bad even by New England standards, so I think (hope) I'll be ready for my first Minnesota winter!

All in all, we had a fun, relaxing cabin vacation. But I must admit it was very nice to come home to my bed...

Here are a few more photos from the trip:

Mr. G and me at a local restaurant

happy Molly on her first boat ride :)

In other news, I have officially started my internship at the ADA, and so far it's going well. I've even gotten a work perk already - free Twins tickets! Mr. G and I went to the game last night with some friends, and even though the Twins lost (in the freaking 9th inning), we had a fun time and I got to wear my new Twins shirt. :)

I'm sad to say that I won't be making cupcakes for the 4th. :( I was hoping to make festive blueberry and strawberry cupcakes, but Mr. G and I have stayed busy all weekend with friends and family. Plus, we'll be outside all day tomorrow, which isn't the best condition for cupcakes if you don't like them melted. But let me know what you're baking for the holiday! I'd love to hear your patriotic recipes. :)

Happy 4th!

<3 Mrs. G


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