Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Year in Review

We have so much to be thankful for this year.  2010 was really a memorable one for us and so much has happened since last January 1st.  Here are some of the highlights, big and small that made our year so special.

- Wedding planning was in high gear, with invites, favors, reception details, oh my!
- Darcy's first big snow

- Valentines day, although I can't remember what we did! oops, ;)

- Celebrated our 6 year anniversary of dating
- Kevin's birthday at La Residence in Chapel Hill for dinner, sooo good! We must go back.

- Had a wonderful bridal shower, hosted by my MOH Sarah.

- Bachelorette party with some of the most amazing girls!

- Married the love of my life/most amazing person on May 22!

- Had the most amazing wedding/reception and loved seeing all of our family and friends

- Went to Paris for a fabulous honeymoon!

-  Fell in love with Parisian macarons

- Started this newlywed blog!
Newlywed McGees

- Celebrated our dog Darcy's first birthday!

- Ate a huge plate of sushi for my 23rd birthday!

- Went to California for the first time for a BME conference

- Changed my name to officially become a McGee!

- Moved into our new apartment

- Bought new furniture and decorated a lot!

- Received our wedding video from our videographer

- Hosted a fabulous dinner party for Sarah's birthday

- Made Parisian macarons from scratch successfully

- Baked & cooked a lot of food

- NCSU football games and tailgating!

- Ordered 12 rolls with Angela and friends at Sushi Love in Durham

(haha, yes this is a highlight! I thought it was crazy!)

- Recreated Vichyssoise soup from our honeymoon cooking class

- Made the infamous Lemon Drop Jello Shots ;)

- And did more tailgating with friends!

- Dressed Darcy up like a cow for Halloween!

- Decorated for Fall!

- Discovered an amazing recipe for Pigs in a Blanket, which I'm obsessed with

- Spent Thanksgiving with our families

- Made a delish pumpkin cheesecake and macarons

- Decorated for the holidays and Christmas!

- Sent Christmas cards to family and friends

- Lots of holiday baking!

- Hosted our anual holiday party

- Celebrated our first married Christmas!

- Spent Christmas with our families!

- Made red velvet cheesecake cake, which was a huge hit!

- More than 6-7 inches of snow the day after Christmas!!!

- Went to the beach for a few days of relaxation

I hope everyone had a wonderful 2010! Best wishes for an even better 2011!!

Happy New Year!!!  :)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake

This cake is awesome.  It's both a red velvet cake and a cheesecake... in one!  I love how festive the cake looks when you slice into it. It's perfect for the holidays or any other time when you're craving the tangy taste of red velvet and rich cheesecake at the same time.  This was a big hit for Christmas, and I'll definitely make it again.  Yum!  

You're sure to wow some friends or family if you serve this.  It sounds crazy and the recipe looks complicated at first, but it's really easy. You basically make the cakes separately then put them together at the end.  Give it a shot, I'm sure you'll be glad that you did!

Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake
- 2 1/2 bars of cream cheese (20 oz), softened
- 3/4 cups sugar
- 1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest,

- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp coarse salt
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup sour cream


- 2 1/2 cup cake flour
- 1 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons (1 oz.) red food coloring
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp white distilled vinegar


12 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 12 oz. butter, softened
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1 bar white or dark chocolate (optional for decoration)

Make the cheesecake
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese on medium until fluffy, scraping down side of bowl. Gradually add sugar, beating until fluffy. Beat in lemon zest and juice, and salt. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down side of bowl after each addition. Beat in sour cream.

Line the bottom of the cheesecake pan with parchment paper. Pour in filling and bake until just set in center, about 45 minutes.  Remove pan and let cool 20 minutes. Run a paring knife around edge; let cool completely. Cover; chill for at least 2 hours.  You may also wrap in plastic wrap and freeze if you'd like to assemble the cake another day.

Make the cake
Preheat oven to 350°. Sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa, and salt into a medium bowl.  Beat eggs, oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla, and vinegar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until well combined. Add dry ingredients and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Divide batter evenly between 2 greased and floured 9" round cake pans and bake 25-30 minutes, rotating halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean. Let cakes cool 5 minutes, then invert each onto a plate, then invert again onto a cooling rack. Let cakes cool completely, then level with a knife.

Make the frosting

Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla together in a large bowl with an electric mixer until combined. Add sugar and beat until frosting is light and fluffy, 5–7 minutes.

Assemble everything

Place bottom layer on cake stand. Apply a layer of frosting. Remove cheesecake from freezer or fridge and unwrap. Place cheesecake layer on top of the frosted, bottom layer of the red velvet cake.

If the cheesecake is wider than the cake, and it is necessary to to trim it, use a serrated knife. Top with a layer of frosting. Place top layer of cake on top of the cheesecake, and coat with a generous layer of the cream cheese frosting to act as the crumb coat. Be careful not to get any red velvet crumbs in the bowl of frosting!
Refrigerate approximately 30 minutes, then frost with as much of the remaining frosting as necessary.

Top with shaved white chocolate and/or shaved dark chocolate. Refrigerate until ready to serve. 

source: modified from Beantown Baker, originally from Erin's Food Files

Monday, December 27, 2010


Christmas is over, but New Years is coming fast!  I love the holidays :) I thought I'd share some of the Christmas gifts we received from each other and family... especially since one that I received is very relevant to this blog! ;)

Kevin got me a DSLR camera!  I love my new Nikon D5000, it's perfect! My old, little digital camera just wasn't cutting it when it came to trying to take quality pictures of food and details.

Nikon came out with a new D3100 earlier this fall and started phasing out the D5000, but I much prefer it over all of the other cameras in this category.  I can't wait to share some great photos with you of my food and our family adventures! 

We are very lucky and thankful to have received so many other wonderful gifts like clothes, jewelry & makeup (for me, of course), a new blu ray player for Kevin, P90X (so we can get back into shape, haha!), kitchen accessories, and another lens for the camera! 

We also received a few new cookbooks; I can't wait to crack into them and start sharing the recipes with you.  If you're looking for some good ones definitely check out Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan and this The Country Cooking of Ireland book I got Kevin. 

We hope your Christmas and holiday season is going well! I'll be posting a few more recipes from Christmas this week, but then we're off for a few days of vacay and relaxation before work and school kicks back into high gear.

ps. You'll definitely want to stick around for the cake that I made for Christmas... it was awesome! ;) Here's a sneak peak....

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Snowflake Sugar Cookies

I hope everyone had an amazing Christmas! We had a great day and loved spending time with our families.  This was our first Christmas together married! Plus, it snowed on Christmas night and dumped more than 6 inches on us... which for the South is a lot!!

So, in honor of the snow and Christmas, I thought I'd share with you a wonderful sugar cookie recipe and the snowflake cookies that I made this week.  Angela gave me a cute set of snowflake cookie cutters and sugar pearls for Christmas, perfect for making these cookies!! I love the set, you can customize each snowflake shape, so they're more natural and each is unique!

Sugar Cookies
- 3/4 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup white sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt

Cream together butter and sugar until smooth in a large bowl.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.  Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Wrap the dough tightly and chill for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Roll out dough on floured surface to between 1/2 and 1/2 inch thick.  Cut into shapes cookie cutters.  Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake about 6 minutes in preheated oven. Remove the cookies before they become golden brown, cool completely.

Store in an airtight container until icing with Royal Icing.

source: AllRecipes

Royal Icing for Sugar Cookies
- 2 egg whites
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- food coloring gel (optional, for making colors)

Whisk egg whites and vanilla until frothy, add powdered sugar.  Beat until combined and smooth.  Place into pastry bag and pipe on cooled cookies.  Add more powdered sugar to thicken or add a little bit of water to thin.
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