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A recipe to share… Chocolate Banana Pudding Trifle

You know when you go to a potluck or a party and you want to bring something that combines ease of preparation with maximum impact? That’s what this recipe is all about. I am infamous for my inability to follow recipes. I think of them more of guidelines that rules. Sometimes, it gets me into trouble, but most of the time, I LOVE the results. This recipe I am about to share (drum roll please) is one where my experimentation yielded great results. However, in the spirit of not following recipes too closely don’t feel like you have to do it just like I did it.

So without further ado or explanation, I give you:

Chocolate Banana Pudding Trifle

(Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Chocolate Banana Puddingย http://www.marthastewart.com/338402/chocolate-banana-pudding?czone=holiday%2Fspring-celebrations-cnt%2Fcelebration-fatherday&gallery=275527&slide=338402&center=307033)

Her’s:

Chocolate-Banana Pudding

Mine:

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The first step is to make the chocolate ganache because it needs to cool. It’s pretty easy. All you need to do is bring your whipping cream to a boil, remove from heat and add your chocolate chips, and then wait five minutes and add the powdered sugar. Then let that baby cool.

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Next, using your mixer, combine the pudding mix and the whipping cream. This is the best trick. It adds so much richness to the trifle.

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Then put down a layer of vanilla wafers and then a layer of the delicious pudding.

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Then add bananas and chocolate chips. Followed by a layer of whipped cream. It’s easier enough to make by whipping up (pun intended) heavy whipping cream and some sugar.

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So after the bananas and the whipped cream, add the now cool chocolate ganache.

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Then another layer of bananas…

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Then chocolate chips! And bam! You are done. you can’t miss on this stuff. It’s amazing. Don’t worry about layering it too carefully. All that mattters is that ingredients work together so it just layer it up and ENJOY.

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Ahoy! It’s a Boy!

Ahoy! It’s a boy! Nautical Baby Shower!

It was so exciting to plan this shower for my dear friend, Jess R.! I was lucky enough to have two fabulous co-hosts, Meg and Tamara, who made the whole experience delightful! So first things first, we got together for a brainstorm session. We met for coffee (what else?) and had the best time discussing thoughts and ideas. We settled on a nautical theme — for two reasons: because Jess and Dan (the parents to be) share a love of sailing and because their wedding shower a few years ago was also nautical themed — nice symmetry, huh? We discussed possible color pallettes and settled on navy blue and kelly green. All that was left was to divide up the tasks, get to work, and have that shower.

I showed up at Meg’s house pretty early Saturday am with a laundry basket full of stuff…

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Meg adorned her mailbox with these adorable balloons.

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I decided to make some life preservers using floral wreath forms and canvas. (Had to use my polka dot ribbons)

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For the centerpieces, Meg and I worked together. She combined the shells I got from my thriftiest and smartest friend, Hannah, with blue sea glass, mini wooden crates from Target, and Dollar Store candles. Meg also found these sweet ships at Beall’s that just make the table. What do you think?

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For food, we did a brunch spread. Unfortunately, I got swept up in the shower and forgot to take many photos of the food. We made bacon-wrapped pineapple, mini frittatas, pasta salad, blueberry and strawberry muffins, fruit salad, crudite, brownies and cake pops! Of course, we also had mimosas! I made all the labels for the food in a few minutes with my sweet anchor punch and paper!

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It was a lovely time for all. We are so excited to meet Baby Connor!

Check out the beautiful mother-to-be, Jess R.

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Tamara put together an adorable baby onesie banner!

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At the end we handed out the candles as favors — you guys know all about them.

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It couldn’t have been easier — thanks to my amazing co-hosts! Even when one of our activities did not work out, it all worked out and turned out beautifully. Here’s the hosts with the mom!

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Project Journal – Candle Shower Favors

I wrote this post a couple of days ago but wanted to wait until after the shower because I know that my friend, Jess, totally follows me — for which I am super grateful! So now that there’s no spoilers…

My friend Jess R. is having a baby! Squeal! My law school roomie and bestie, Meg, and our friend, Tamara, and I (is that too many commas?) decided to host a baby shower for the new mom! The best thing about hosting by committee (as I like to refer to it) is that we all have different jobs and we can put time and attention into our roles and it’s not overwhelming. I volunteered to do the favors for the shower. We brainstormed ideas in the first meeting of the committee and settled on something in mason jars. Further research on Pinterest led me to consider candle-making. Then the smartest gal I know, Hannah, told me how easy it was and walked me through the candle making via texts. So I made candles in mason jars with organic soy ย — they turned out great! Then using my handy dandy anchor punch I decorated the shit out of them. I set up all the pieces and one of my kids stopped by for a baking lesson and chipped in. She helped me finish up the favors and they turned out great!

You don’t have to take my word for it either… you know I’ve got pics!

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Here’s how I did it. First, I order the supplies on Amazon.com. We joked at one of our planning meetings that the shower was sponsored by Amazon Prime because we are all such fans! Hannah approved the cost and said that I was getting a good deal — Hannah is a savvy shopper when she approves your purchase, you feel so grown up and responsible.

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From a distance, I fear these bags of soy flakes look a bit suspicious…

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Then I got all my supplies together… including my melting pitcher, jars, and wicks…

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Then I melted the wax double boiler style.

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Then poured it in the jars and let it set.

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Then we put them all together.

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Wasn’t that crazy easy for a big impact? The finished project made me smile big time. Stay tuned for more blog posts about the shower.

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Easy Dinner for Two!

Monday night, my friend S came home from a business trip and we were both anxious to catch up. After a series of vague and indecisive text messages culminating in a barage of sent Pinterest pins. We settled on… (drum roll please!) Roasted Butternut Squash soup and Sausage, Cheddar, and Broccoli Rabe Frittata.

The first recipe comes from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics. I had made it recently when I began working my way through her cookbook for my 30 before 30 list. I knew it was easy and delicious. I put the veggies in the over right when I got home from work and was able to take them out right before the gym so they cooled while I did the opposite. Here’s a link to the pin for the recipe:ย http://www.pinterest.com/pin/69242912990397711/

As for the frittata, S had a copy of one of the newest Bon Appetit — a shared not-so-guilty pleasure — and was inspired. Here’s a link to that recipe as well:ย http://www.pinterest.com/pin/206673070373578822/

Some judicious wine pours, some sweet jams (Thanks to Pandora), and team cooking yielded strong results. I felt like we really started the week on a high note. Not to mention, that soup was even better for lunch the next day!

Here’s some pics from our adventures:

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It was a delicious and (dare I say it) elegant dinner that didn’t really take that much work! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Picnic Shower

Cake Pops Cake Pops and the spread Time to open presents... ย Ladies (and babies) lounging The beautiful park! Ladies lounging during the scavenger hunt .

Philosophy

My philosophy when hosting and planning a shower is this is a party, therefore it should be fun. As it is a party in honor of the Mom-to-be or the soon the arriving child, it should somehow reflect them . ย H is a biology teacher and environmentalist so we went zero waste, recycled items with a funky vibe. We gave out flower planters as favors and we used glass plates and cloth napkins. I think at the end we had one garbage bag and that was it!

Planning

This was such a team effort. So many mass emails and conversations. We had it in a local city park so we had to bring EVERYTHING with us. We made the mason jars, the banner, and the planters in advance. ย We used the planters as decorations and with the help of the banners we created our own space. The food we served was picnic inspired: PB&J roll ups, corn dog muffins (http://pinterest.com/pin/206673070371865559/), fruit. and cheese and crackers. We used Pinterest for ideas and to plan. I love the shared boards because everyone can add and then see other’s ideas. ย The night of the craft session each of my friends got off work at different times so they came in shifts: first S, then LF, and M came last after a hair cut.

This shower was a book shower, which means that instead of cards people brought books. Here’s a link to the mock up of the invitation we purchased from Etsy.

http://pinterest.com/pin/206673070372066456/

Interestingly, H’s baby is 2 months old now and he is starting to love to have books read to him! It’s like we knew!

I also believe that showers should be fun so we tried to keep the awkward games to a minimum. We did an interactive scavenger hunt in the park and it was quite the hit.

Probably the most time consuming thing was making the four different flavors of cake pops! H loves cake pops and developed an insane sweet tooth as part of her pregnancy. So E and I were up quite late making cake pops to whet her appetite.

With a yellowpad filled with lists and a group of dedicated friends, we were able to put on a beautiful shower for a beloved friend. The most important thing for us was to make H feel special and loved and I think we did just that!