Holy Crap! The wedding is four months away!!!!
Okay--I've got the dress; the invitations; the save-the-date cards; the venue; the caterer; the music; the photographer; the JP; the attendants and such....we're pretty much good to go, with only about 6,000 other things to take care of in the next 16 or so weeks. Even smaller, simpler weddings are very "involved". Fortunately, I love to plan a party. However, as far as planning my own wedding is concerned, I learned a lot in the first round almost nine years ago, and I'm paying those lessons forward to this wedding.
More importantly, I'm paying those lessons foward to this MARRIAGE. Because that's what I'm doing...I'm getting ready for marriage. I'm not just throwing a party. I'm throwing a party to celebrate this deal Ian and I have struck with each other: I'll be there for you; you'll be there for me; and together we'll take care of ourselves. And keep the bills paid. And travel. And cook dinners. And raise kids. And enjoy a special friendship called marriage. And frustrate the hell out of each other. And love each other. And....
The thing is, marriage is work no matter who you're married to. It's not always easy. But some marriages present challenges that simply cannot be overcome for a myriad of reasons, most typically because only one person is working on overcoming them. Ian and I will face our ups and downs, no doubt. But if our solid friendship and experiences together over the past two years are any indication, we can ride out the bad and enjoy the good as a real team. This is mind-blowing to me. And I love it.
But enough of the heavy stuff! Let's get down to more immediate matters: THE HOLIDAYS!
Next week we're doing Turkey Day at my mom's, but I'll be roasting my own poultry at home so we have leftovers to return to at the end of the day. Pumpkin pie and sweet potatoes are on the list of things to bring to mom's. As for the green bean casserole, I found a great recipe on the Food Network the other night with Guy Fieri, and I think I might make that one instead. We'll see how it's received, though. My mom's Irish family really likes things to be the Same Way Every Year. I took liberties with last year's green bean casserole and put red pepper flakes in it (gasp!). My family was confused and flustered over the matter.
What I'm really looking forward to is Christmas, especially the baking. Each year Renee and I (usually) get together and whip up a bunch of cookies on some random Saturday night after Thanksgiving. Last year we had the pleasure of baking in my former, single-mom kick-ass apartment with its renovated, open kitchen and ample counter space. This year, it's back to reality because I own again. We'll be baking in my tiny kitchen, bumping into each other, dogs, kids, and our respective significant others as we manipulate dough and make ourselves sick from eating two of every dozen that emerges from the oven.
I'm going to try a few new recipes this year, too, in addition to the usual chocolate chip and sugar cookies. Bakerella's blog is amazing, and I've found several recipes on there worth sharing. The red velvet cake and Oreo truffles are two latest discoveries that I cannot wait to try. Today's item for sharing is the amazing Double Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes filled with Chocolate Ganache and Topped with Creamy Goat Cheese Frosting. Phew. It's a lot to say, but I cannot wait to make them. They're not just for dessert. In fact, they would be perfect for a cocktail party or as a pot-luck item for, say, your table of 10 at a BYOB holiday fundraiser with Vinnie Penn (who will host Guido Jeopardy) that you might be attending on Friday, December 5 at the Annex Club on Woodward Ave. Tickets are $25 and it goes to a good cause.
Anyway, here's the recipe. Check it out. I, for one, plan to make these. Ian will hate them--he hates chocolate. Communist.
Double Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes filled with Chocolate Ganache and Topped with Creamy Goat Cheese Frosting
Double Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa, natural unsweetened
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup whole milk, room temperature
1 cup shredded zucchini
3.5 oz. Valrhona semi-sweet chocolate bar, chopped in chunks
Preheat oven to 350º F
Line cupcake trays with 18 baking cups.
Stir together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt with a wire whisk. Set aside.
Cream butter with a mixer in a large bowl. Add sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla one at a time, mixing well with each addition.
Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk in two additions (flour, milk, flour, milk, flour)
Stir in the zucchini and chocolate chunks until combined.
Fill baking cups 2/3 full and place in oven immediately.
8. Bake for 15-18 minutes.
Creamy Goat Cheese Frosting
5 oz. Ile de France goat cheese
3 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
3 cups confectioner's sugar, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla
Sift sugar and set aside.
Beat the goat cheese, cream cheese and vanilla in a large mixing bowl until creamy.
Gradually add the sugar, mixing and scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl in between additions.
2 oz. Valrhona semi-sweet chocolate bar, chopped in chunks
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
Place chocolate and whipping cream in the microwave. Heat in 30 second intervals, stirring in between until melted. Blend thoroughly.
Add sugar and stir until thoroughly combined.
Pour ganache into a small plastic squeeze bottle.
Insert opening of squeeze bottle halfway into cupcake center and squeeze ganache until you see it start to surface.
Then, spread creamy goat cheese frosting on top with a knife or small offset spatula.
Use any leftover semi-sweet chocolate pieces to sprinkle on top of cupcakes.