Big Birthday Weekend

I couldn't let my husband's 40th birthday pass by without documenting it here on the blog - after all, he has always been and will always be the biggest supporter of the blog! Besides being a constant rock to me and my small business, he's the best husband around! So, naturally I had to go big for his big birthday. 

Starting with a very subtle surprise birthday message in our front yard curtesy of Happy Sign Surprise.

We also hosted a small celebration/ping pong tournament in our backyard for some of his closest friends. We rented the ping pong tables through Thunderdome Racing and borrowed all the extra heaters we could find. The chilly weekend didn't put a damper on the festivities!

Of course, no 40th birthday party is complete without a new outfit. T-shirt curtesy of Vistaprint.

The majority of the food was catered by Vic the Chili Man - best hotdogs in Charlotte - you can find his cart uptown most days...but if you ask nice, he might bring it to your house! We loved all of his creations. Plus, the cart was really cool.

At John's request we made guacamole, truffled popcorn , winter slaw and finished off the night with a custom s'more bar inspired by The Kitchn.

I have to say it was a pretty perfect evening of good friends coming together to celebrate a pretty good guy! Ok, he's better than pretty good...

After a full day of recovery, we celebrated with a homemade Carrot Cake for Two (that I actually doubled to serve 4, but now we have leftovers! Backfire.)

After the jam packed weekend and the time change, we're all struggling this Monday morning - but it was worth it! Happy Birthday to my amazing husband! Love you.

More to come...

Soup's On

I'll be the first to admit that this soup did not photograph well, but it is the best soup I have made in ages so I'm sharing it anyway. Of course, I've already forwarded the recipe on to 5 of the 10 people that still read this blog, so to the other 5 of you - I hope you enjoy!

Butternut, Sausage & Wild Rice Soup

adapted from Emeril Lagasse's recipe 

You'll need:
1 medium butternut squash, about 3 to 4 pounds, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 tablespoons olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
6 cups chicken stock
1 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup wild rice
1 lb fresh Italian Style Chicken Sausage  (I use the al fresco brand)
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 c whole milk
2 cups chopped fresh Spinach

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Season the squash with 1/2 tablespoon of the oil, salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until tender. Remove from the oven and cool completely. In a blender or food processor, puree the squash with 1 cups of the chicken stock. Puree until smooth and set aside.

In a saucepan, over medium heat, bring 2 cups of the stock and 1/4 cup of the chopped onions to a simmer. Stir in the rice and cook until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 1 hour, stirring occasionally with a fork. Remove the rice from the pan and cool. In a large saucepan, over medium heat, add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil. When the oil is hot, add the sausage (removed from the casing) and cook through, breaking it up with a fork as it cooks. Add the remaining 3/4 cup of onions and corn. Season with salt and pepper. Saute for 3 minutes. Add the remaining 3 cups of stock and squash puree. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Skim off any fat that rises to the surface. Stir in the rice and continue to cook for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in milk and season with salt and pepper. Add spinach and simmer until wilted.