Sunday, June 1

The Big 5-0 Birthday

This year was my mom's big 50th birthday party. It was my dad's too, but he wasn't interested in having a big party as he had a big suprise for this 40th. My brother and I started planning this party back in Feburary and it turned out wonderful. Her actual birthday was Tuesday, May 27. After spending 2 weeks at the beach, she came back and we surprised her with dinner at the Weathervane. As a general rule our family celebrates at home rather than go out, but since this year was a big one, we splurged. Not only did we splurge on dinner, I think we gave her one of the best birthday gifts ever.

She's been wanting a nice COACH bag for quite some time. I think every time we go shopping she looks at them. My brother, Zack and I went in together and bought her one that I knew she'd love. It's the perfect size and shape...a hobo, so it's comfy. Needless to say, she was quite surprised and overly giddy. She kept kidding she was going to sleep with it, but I wouldn't put it past her!

If the new handbag and dinner wasn't enough, we threw her a big party catered by Daniel's for all our family and friends. Everything turned out better than expected. The food was wonderful and it was so nice to see friends we haven't seen in years that came to celebrate. My sister in law, Amanda and I made a few appetizers that were a huge hit. Her brushetta, caprese and antipasta salads were delicious and I got rave reviews on my stuffed mushrooms and tiramisu.

Mouth-Watering Stuffed Mushrooms

12 whole fresh mushrooms
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground onion powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 340 F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Clean mushrooms with a damp paper towel. Carefully break off stems. Chop stems extremely fine, discarding any touch ends of the stems.Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and chopped msuhroom stems to the skillet. Fry until any moisture has disappeared, taking care not to burn the garlic. Set aside to cool.

When garlic and mushroom mixture is no longer hot, stir in cream cheese, parmesan cheese, black pepper, onion powder and cayenne pepper. Mixture should be very thick. Using a little spoon, fill each mushroom cap with a generous amount of stuffing. Arrange the mushroom caps on a prepared cookie sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until the msuhrooms are piping hot and liquid starts to form until caps.

White Russian Tiramisu
1/2 cup ground coffee beans
1 3/4 cups cold water
1/4 cup KahlĂșa (coffee-flavored liqueur), divided
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) mascarpone cheese
1 (8-ounce) block fat-free cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
24 ladyfingers (2 [3-ounce] packages)
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa, divided
Assemble drip coffee maker according to manufacturer's directions. Place the ground coffee in the coffee filter or filter basket. Add cold water to coffee maker and brew to make 1 1/2 cups. Combine the brewed coffee and 2 tablespoons KahlĂșa in a shallow dish, and cool.

Combine cheeses in a large bowl. Beat at high speed of a mixer until smooth. Add sugars and 2 tablespoons Kahlua, and beat until well-blended.

Split ladyfingers in half lengthwise.

Quickly dip 24 ladyfinger halves, flat sides down, into coffee mixture; place, dipped sides down, in the bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish, slightly overlapping ladyfinger halves. Spread half of cheese mixture over ladyfingers; sprinkle with 1 teaspoon cocoa. Repeat procedure with remaining ladyfinger halves, coffee mixture, cheese mixture, and 1 teaspoon cocoa.

Place 1 toothpick in each corner and 1 in the center of tiramisu (to prevent plastic wrap from sticking to cheese mixture); cover with plastic wrap. Chill 2 hours.

I have to give a huge shout to the Lowes Foods bakery in Apex. Originally I wanted Cinda's Creative Cakes to make a wine-themed birthday cake. When she couldn't, I panicked, then procastinated, then ran to Lowes 2 days before the party to see what they could do. I gave them a black and white photo of a cake design I had in mind and they exceeded my greatest expectations. The cake was beautiful and decorated in an "Aged to Perfection" wine theme.
My uncle tried to have a little fun and have the Sheriff come and out arrest her for being too old. Too bad they didn't have enough coverage and couldn't play along with the little idea. Otherwise he would have gotten her good.

All in all it was a great she'll never forget!

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