Birthday Week Kick-Off

by Cate on July 30, 2006

Continuing the “birthday season” in our family (Mom kicked it off two weeks ago), this upcoming week, we’ll be celebrating my birthday and Nicholas’. We tend to inadvertently draw birthdays out more than their actual day, much to the collective Husband’s chagrin. Heck, it only comes around once a year, why not?

Although Nicholas’ birthday isn’t until Wednesday, his birthday celebrations began today with a party with his friends. A Thomas the Train birthday cake, pizza and hotdogs, games, rides and a visit from Barney – what more could an almost-four-year-old want?

The Sister-in-Law came over for dinner tonight and knowing that we had a busy morning, I wanted to keep it simple, yet delicious. I laid down with Nicholas for a bit this afternoon and happened to catch an episode of Everyday Italian when Giada DeLaurentiis made Espresso Brownies. Taking a page from, ahem, Sandra Lee, Giada actually used a boxed brownie mix, and embellished it by adding espresso into both the mix and the glaze. Mmmm, the glaze … buttery, deep, lightly rich and deliciously caffeinated, it was simply divine. I would definitely make these again.

Now to work backwards. I started the meal with an Antipasto/Tapas platter, taking cues from both Latino and Italian sides with prosciutto, Parmesan chunks, roasted pimento, crusty bread sprinkled with lemon juice and green olives. For the main course, I stuck with a tried-and-true, the very delicious John Zaccaro’s Penne with Vodka Cream Sauce from Karen Duffy’s cookbook A Slob in the Kitchen. This one is super simple, hearty, creamy and never fails to come through for me. Another tried-and-true, I rounded out the meal with Stuffed Garlic Bread, nixing the artichoke part of it (couldn’t remember how The Sister-in-Law feels about artichokes). All in all, a nice and relaxing end to the day.

Tomorrow, birthday celebrations continue. Until then…

A year ago today… young love.

P.S. Don’t forget to send in your permalinks to be included in the I’ll Show You Mine If You Show Me Yours #3. This month’s theme is your Tried-and-True Recipe Collection. Is it an index card file? An overstuffed binder? Whatever it is, post about it, and send me the permalink by 7/31 to be included.

Espresso Brownies
Recipe courtesy of Giada DeLaurentiis
Nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons espresso powder
1 (19.8-ounce) box brownie mix (recommended: Duncan Hines)
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9 by 13-inch baking pan with nonstick spray. Whisk 1/3 cup of water, oil, eggs, and 2 tablespoons espresso powder in a large bowl to blend. Add the brownie mix. Stir until well blended. Stir in the chocolate chips. Transfer the batter to the prepared baking pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 35 minutes. Cool completely.

Meanwhile, dissolve the remaining 2 teaspoons of espresso powder in the remaining 2 tablespoons of water in a medium bowl. Whisk in the vanilla. Add the powdered sugar and butter and whisk until smooth. Pour the glaze over the brownies. Refrigerate until the glaze is set. Cut into bite-size pieces. Arrange the brownies on a platter and serve.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Claire July 30, 2006 at 3:03 am

Wow! I missed the announcement for the 3rd I’ll Show you Mine event. I’ll try and get something posted. Sounds like fun! That party sounds like a lot of fun. I’m sure all the kids had a great time.

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Ellie July 30, 2006 at 4:23 am

Happy birthday to Nicholas – sounds like the festivities have gotten off to a great start – and I love that cake and the brownies!

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Natalia July 30, 2006 at 5:28 am

I loved Thomas the Train when I was little, and still do, really. I’d have loved a birthday cake like that :)

That garlic bread looks delicious. I like the addition of sesame seeds. And the whole thing sounds wonderful. I’ll have to try it.

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Gabriella True July 30, 2006 at 9:07 am

Happy birthday sweet boy!!!!

That cake is fabulous

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Michelle July 30, 2006 at 8:53 pm

you said the pasta never fails to disapoint? I’m assuming that’s a typo??

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Annie July 30, 2006 at 9:41 pm

Happy B-day Nicholas!!
I saw that episode for the brownies and I will have to try them. Did you see my post on my “low-fat cream cheese brownies” it also uses a box mix? And a ARF/secret ingredient I’ve been using a lot lately. =)

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Dani July 31, 2006 at 1:06 am

Barney came and visit Nicholas? He never showed up at my birthday parties, maybe because we don’t have Barney in Europe ;-)

Can’t wait to read more about Nichola’s Birthday Week(end)

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Anonymous July 31, 2006 at 6:08 pm

Dinner was yummy! BTW, the sister in-law loves artichokes :)

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