Saturday, July 26, 2014

celebrating my 40th . . . and a theme

I've been looking back on this month ~ through photos ~ and couldn't help but notice a theme . . . FOOD.

Much of my birthday was centered around food (no complaints here!) . . .

a beautiful birthday cake made by my dearest and best-friend Alex of Cameo Cake Company
 lunch at CHADO's with some of my favorite people
and a gift card to a Cooking School 

.     .     .     .     .     .
My husband worked a little magic (a lot, actually) and surprised me with a box of LADUREE macarons!

I love these petite French cookies. I've tried countless macarons over the years, and none of them compare to LADUREE's. There's something incredibly unique about them. The chocolate tastes like REAL chocolate; pistachio tastes like REAL pistachio; the vanilla tastes like REAL vanilla; and the rose macarons taste like REAL rose.  They're like a little pieces of heaven on earth.

.     .     .     .     .     .
My best-friend Alex, Owner of and Cake Decorator for Cameo Cake Company, surprised me with this beautiful cake. She paid careful attention to ALL the details . . . even down to the muted gold and pearly white fondant . . . and the BIG, beautiful hand-made pink peony. Simple and classic. Perfect.

And the inside . . .

a DARK CHOCOLATE lover's dream
.     .     .     .     .     .
Intense and rich dark chocolate cake ~ made with two varieties of high quality Guittard cocoa ~
filled with mint Oreo Swiss meringue buttercream ~ made with high quality and all natural peppermint extract ~ and then frosted in extra dark chocolate ganache ~ made with Callebaut Extra Bitter Chocolate ~
 before being covered in vanilla fondant. Heaven!

                                                                  .     .     .     .     .     .
A small group of close friends and I ventured north to Los Angeles
where we enjoyed a beautiful afternoon at CHADO's.


.     .     .     .     .     .     .
I'm so excited about this gift card!
Prep is a culinary retail store and Cooking School.
They offer a wide variety of top-rated, hands-on cooking classes . . .
and I have plans to enroll in the hand-made pasta workshop . . .

Herb Pressed Tortellini with Garlic, Roasted Tomatoes
Fettuccine With Grilled Chicken and a Light Cream Sauce 
Lasagna with Classic Bolognese

Summer Salad with Fresh Market Greens

Grilled Peaches with Chantilly Cream

I can't wait!!
I hope to take photos of my hand-made pasta adventure . . . and share the recipes with YOU.

                                                                  .     .     .     .     .     .
I was gifted amazing (and heartfelt) cookbooks. I treasure them, especially when there's a special story within its covers.

I'm a huge fan of Cook's Illustrated and America's Test Kitchen.

Have you heard of them? They're both highly respected in culinary circles, and I'm so happy to have more of their books to add to my collection.

I've already tagged upwards of 50 recipes from this one!  The old-fashioned chewy sugar cookie recipe I posted recently came from here.


This cookbook (below) has an extra special story behind it . . .
I saw it sitting on my cousin's dining room table last Summer. Its charming watercolor cover caught my eye . . . and when I asked her about it, she told me that it was a cookbook made by a group of elite women who have lived on Coronado Island for decades and decades. They're the women of the Crown Garden Club of Coronado.

Throughout the years, Crown Garden Club members have enjoyed fabulous brunches, lunches, teas, and dinners. Many of the recipes included in this book are treasured favorites from those events. Other recipes are from local restaurants that are long gone, but still evoke happy memories of past days in Coronado.

I was so surprised when my cousin, Linda, surprised me with one for my birthday!! What makes it so special is that there were only 500 of them printed, and they sold out almost immediately. She pulled a few strings (many strings, actually) and called in a favor of a friend, of a friend . . . and found one for ME!

I might not be a Coronado native and resident (like Linda), but I have fond memories of spending many Spring and Summer weekends in Coronado with my family. So although I don't know the Ladies of the Garden Club personally, I feel honored to have one of their cookbooks. Now I have a piece of Coronado in my home & kitchen (smile). Thank you so much, sweet Linda.

a chapter from the cookbook titled . . .
Summer in Coronado
.     .     .     .     .     .
White Truffle Deviled Eggs
1 dozen hard-boiled eggs
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup white truffle oil
1/2 teaspoon black truffle salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper, to taste
Lemon thyme sprigs for garnish
.     .     .     .     .     .
Cut off 1/3 the top of the hard boiled eggs and place the yolks in a bowl.
Mash thoroughly with a fork and add the oils, and salt and pepper; mix thoroughly.
Return mixture to egg halves.
Garnish and serve cold or at room temperature.

I feel so incredibly blessed to be surrounded by so many loving friends and family members!
Thank you all for making my day so very special!
I will treasure all of my 40th birthday memories always.

LET'S STAY in touch!


  1. What wonderful birthday gifts these are!!! I'm so envious. I'm going to make my husband buy me the macaroons!!! He doesn't know how to do surprise and I have to always tell him what I want, otherwise I will never get it. BTW, your birthday cake is so gorgeous!!! I don't know how I would bear to bite into that beautiful flower if I were you. Have a great weekend!

  2. Wow, amazing gifts! I love how they were all so personal and chosen especially for you. I'm so jealous of your pasta making class. Can't wait to hear about it.

  3. Happy Birthday Suzanne! Sounds like a delightful and delicious celebration!

  4. I wish you a Happy Birthday Suzanne! It sounds like you had such a beautiful time with family and friends. Memories are the most precious gift of all! Peaceful Blessings! Nanny

  5. Everything looks so yummy and so pretty!...Christine

  6. A birthday centered around food....I don't see anything wrong with that! Especially this kind of food :-) Looks like you had an amazing time. That cake is gorgeous!

    Happy Birthday!!!!

    Thanks for sharing at Marvelous Monday on Smart Party Planning :-)

  7. The cake is beautiful and a Happy Belated Birthday! Your photos are beautiful and they certainly reflect your delicious recipes.

  8. Wow, you are having quite a birthday!! I am excited to hear about your pasta adventure, I do hope you can share with us, sounds amazing!

  9. Your post is making my mouth water. Everything looks amazing; so delicious. Hope you had a wonderful birthday!! Your cake is gorgeous.

  10. Happy Happy Birthday and welcome to the 40-is-FABulous Club! Love all your birthday treats and America's Test Kitchen Cookbook! I want one of those too!
    ~ Ashley

  11. Happy Birthday! What a birthday month you've had. Lovely. Friendship is a priceless commodity and you have it in spades.

  12. Happy Birthday. You really received thoughtful gifts.

    I remember having lunch at the Coronado. It was delish. I remember the building being so white you needed to keep your sunglasses on because it is so bright.


  13. I love the simplicity of that cake-STUNNING! The fondant looks absolutely perfect, and I know that is really hard to master. You must have a very talented friend. Are you going to teach everyone at Prep your amazing cooking skills? Just kidding ;) I can't wait to see your hand-made pasta creations.

  14. What a wonderful birthday celebration. Happy Belated Birthday Suzanne!!
    Thank you for sharing your special day(s) with us and all those delectable treats at Project Inspire{d}!

  15. Wow, what a celebration...HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I'm amazed by the cake...stunning, absolutely beautiful!!!
    Thanks so much for sharing at AMAZE ME MONDAY...

  16. You can't go wrong when you start with Laduree! Happy Birthday... :-)


  17. Happy Belated Birthday Suzanne! Wow what a wonderful day you had indeed! So many lovely things to enjoy. Thanks for linking up and sharing the amazing cake and this post.


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