Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Family Christmas Dinner

"The holy green, the ivy green, the prettiest picture you've ever seen. It's Christmas at" THE GARIETY'S "with all of the folks at home!"
Michael and I taking our yearly photos by the Christmas tree before the family arrives and the feast begins.

We all hoped Matthew was going to make it out this year for Christmas and since he had mentioned that he didn't really like turkey my dad had stocked up on Tri-Tip (5 of them) and Salmon to grill for our feast. Sadly Matt did not make it out this year but gladly we still got to have a BBQ Christmas.

We also made about 4 dozen rolls, 25 baked potatoes and had a huge salad to go along with it.
Michael took these beauties of the meat - it was such a nice day in California, the perfect BBQ Weather.
After dinner we all (20+ family and friends) sang Christmas carols...
Listened to a reading of the nativity story from gospel of Luke...
Watched "The Nativity" video together...
Opened presents and just had fun talking and laughing.
My dad and Mike lugged the piano into the house (it usually stays in the garage because it is so huge) and Mike played for us while we sang a song or two.
He also played the guitar and a few songs on his trumpet. What can I say? He's a man of many talents!

We were all so excited to have my uncle Jr. with us all the way from Tennessee.
What a blessed and special holiday season this was for us. It could only have been made better if we could have shared it with the rest of our wonderful family. For those of you who weren't with us I hope you know how much we love you and that we think of you often.

Egan Family Fun

The Monday after Michael's birthday we had the opportunity to go to San Francisco and spend the day with Michael's cousin Mick and his family.

We had the best time with them! They are all so pleasant and fun to be with. It was a very foggy and rainy day so all piled in the car and took a drive down the coast to Half Moon Bay.

We stopped and had lunch at little Mexican restaurant by the beach. We ordered lots of different things so they could sample. We had flautas, steak fajitas, shrip tacos, chips & salsa, rice and beans. Our waiter was nice enough to take this snap shot of us.
During our drive back to S.F. we saw this pumpkin patch and pulled over for some photos. Here is Bec, me and Leah. Leah loves to read and we spent a good amount of time talking about all the books we've both read. She's an "Edward" fan just like me :)
Mick and Mikey - they were funny together. At one point Michael was on the wrong side of the street driving (he thought it was one way) and Mick was in the front with him and never even noticed.

The Egan/Gariety clan.

It sounds kind of boring to just take a car trip when you are staying in San Francisco but it was just perfect! It gave us plenty of time to talk and to really get to know eachother.

One of my favorite things was that we stopped at the beach to get a good shot of the Golden Gate Bridge and all of a sudden it just started pouring on us. All of us were running through the rain laughing trying to make it back to the car.

It was a sad moment when we had to leave. We just love Mick, Bec and Leah and enjoyed our visit with them so much!

Piece of Cake!

Chocolate Cake with Cheesecake Swirls and Cream Cheese Frosting

This was Michael's birthday cake this year and a lot of people have asked me for the recipe so here goes...


Chocolate Cake -
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup Cocoa powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water (Start the water as soon as you've prepared the pans)


Prepare your pans with oil and flour or parchment paper (I found parchment works best for this recipe because the cheesecake swirls are delicate when first out of the oven).

1. Heat oven to 350°F.

2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin).

Cheesecake Swirls INGREDIENTS:

8 oz. cream cheese (room temp.)
1 egg, beaten
1/3 c. white sugar
Dash of salt
1 c. chocolate chips

Combine above ingredients except chips beating on med speed for 2 minutes until well combined. Stir in chocolate chips and set aside.
Pour cake batter into prepared pans, distributing evenly.
Drop cheesecake mix by heaping spoonfuls into cake batter, gently swirl with a butter knife.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes then remove from pans to a wire rack until completely cool and ready for frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting INGREDIENTS:

2pkgs. (16oz) Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
2tsp. vanilla
1 pkg. (16 oz.) powdered sugar (about 4 cups), sifted

Beat together all ingredients on med until combined. Frost cooled cake and refrigerate for 1 hour to set cheesecake and frosting.

You can also combine the plain chocolate cake recipe with delicious Coconut Pecan Frosting.

1 C Evaporated Milk
1 C White Sugar
1/2 C (1 stick) butter cut up into small pieces

3 egg yolks beaten
1Tsp Vanilla

1 and 1/2 C flaked coconut
1 C chopped pecans

Heat milk, sugar and butter over med-high heat until it boils. Boil while stirring exactly 2 minutes.

Remove from heat, use hot milk mix to temp egg yolks - then combine egg yolks with milk mix in pan. Return to heat - bring to a boil and boil exactly 2 minutes.

Turn off stove. Remove from heat. Add vanilla. Strain mix through a fine sieve into a medium bowl. Add coconut and pecans. Stir. Refrigerate at least 1 hour until mixture thickens. Frost and ENJOY!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The "Magic" Birthday

Yesterday was Mikey's "Magic" birthday. Apparently Magic Johnson's # was 32. Everyone else we know seemed to instinctively know this except me. I guess I need to brush up on my basketball history.

Mike's birthday fell on a Friday so while he was at work I baked his cake. It is tradition in my family to bake the birthday boy (or girl) a homemade, from-scratch cake. They choose the cake and frosting and their wish is our command. It is really a labor of love. This year Michael requested a chocolate cake with cheesecake swirls baked into it and cream cheese frosting.

Another Gariety family birthday tradition is "pulling rank."  This means the birthday boy (or girl) can ask for and will get anything they want.  Basically they are royalty for the day.  Among many other things Mikey asked to go see The Blind Side and eat dinner at the new Qdoba in town.

The movie was amazing!  So clean and with such a good message.  It made it even better that it was a true story.  What a good choice!  And we LOVED Qdoba.  It was like a high brow Subway for Burritos.  Michael asked for the "Chef's" recommendation.
He helped the birthday boy build the most amazing burrito with melt-in-your mouth pulled pork in an adobo based bbq sauce with cilantro lime rice, black beans, red onions and cheese.  It was heavenly!  They even wished Mike a happy birthday.

After the movie and dinner we came home for cake, ice cream and presents!
It takes a long time to light 32 candles but many hands make light work :).
Still lighting...
Almost done...
Make a wish!
Apparently lung capacity lessens as one ages.  It took Mike 3 tries to blow out all the candles.
His fave - mint and chip ice cream and his homemade cake.
Lookin' good Mr. Cartal!  Mike modeling his new leather jacket and Tintin book.  He's been hinting at Tintin for months - he loved it as a boy and they are making a movie out of the series soon.
Happy Birthday to you!!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

An Ode to the Birthday Boy

Always a smiler, even in his sleep

His love for baseball and Funyuns is deep.

It's been said that he looks like his mama,

he laughs at the thought of voting for Obama.

Quick to give kisses, sweet as can be
came as a toddler to the "land of the free."

Important are friends and family to this guy

His dreams are big, he reaches for the sky
Humor plays a part in all he is

When is comes to style - he's the wiz!
Full of love, life and joy
Michael, you are one VERY GOOD Birthday boy!

Happy Birthday!