27!

Highs in the 60′s and raining all day. Raining all day for three days is actually what the forecast is predicting. Normally that’s a guarantee to put me in a bad mood. But how could it today – it’s my 27th birthday! (I can’t guarantee I’ll be so cheery when it’s raining tomorrow, though.)

Usually when people ask me what I want for my birthday, I tell them I’d rather be surprised. But, I actually do have one small request today. If you can do a little something in honor of me turning 27, I’d really appreciate it. And it will only take about 2 seconds. Marla from Family Fresh Cooking is hosting a Stoneyfield Yogurt Recipe Battle, and I’d love it if you’d vote for my Haddock with Feta Yogurt Sauce! If you already voted the other day (thank you! xoxo!) remember that today is a new day and you can vote once per day until August 25th!

So, how did I celebrate? I’m lucky enough to have plenty of family and friends nearby and they helped me ring in my new year all weekend long. It started with dinner at my mother-in-law’s house on Saturday. Want to hear the sweetest thing? She and my mother got together the previous weekend with a stack of Bon Appetit’s, and a mission to create a perfectly Cara-inspired menu. And you better believe they delivered! Goat cheese, sweet potatoes, garden-fresh vegetables, lamb, shrimp, and s’mores all in one meal… this girl couldn’t ask for much more.

To start, a fresh garden salad accompanied by a grilled flatbread pizza, piled with red-wine-laced caramelized onions, Italian chicken sausage and manchego cheese.

For the main course, a grilled sweet potato salad kicked up with poblano peppers and a mustardy honey-rosemary dressing.
And rotini tossed with asparagus, goat cheese, lemon and tarragon.
A mustard-crusted grilled leg of lamb, quite the show stopper! (Note, since mother-in-law is no longer afraid cooking lamb, I foresee plenty of it in the future.)
Rivaled by grilled shrimp skewers glazed with a mixture of molasses, apricots, lime and rosemary. Seriously wonderful.
Altogether now!
Then it was time for gifts. Everyone was so thoughtful, I loved it! There’s one in particular I have to share. Besides being a fabulous cook, my mother-in-law is a talented seamstress, and for me she embroidered this oh-so-adorable apron! It’s pink, and bling-y. She knows me all too well :)
My own mother also knows me quite well and knows that s’mores are a summer favorite of mine. As it turns out, s’mores with dark chocolate are even better. I think my awesome brother-in-law agrees.
 All of us enjoying our s’mores
My one special request was for a very specific birthday cake; that would be Wholly Cannoli’s Chocolate Caramel Cannoli Cake. In addition to serving up dozens of crazy cannoli flavors, this bakery makes my most favorite cake. It was our wedding cake and has made appearances at several other family birthdays and even a bar mitzvah. What makes it so wonderful? Layers of moist chocolate cake brushed with caramel and layered with cannoli cream, a perfectly not-too-sweet chocolate Italian cream icing, and ganache. (Please take a second to wipe the drool from your keyboard now.)
Happy Birthday to me!
My gorgeous sister-in-law loves cake too.

The celebration continued the next day when we headed to Rialto. It just so happens to be restaurant week in Boston, so it was a perfect opportunity to invite friends along for a nice meal out.

I started with the chilled white gazpacho with fresh corn and preserved lemon, but not before asking our server for a little more description on the base of the soup. She said it contained cucumbers, leeks, grapes, honeydew melon, and I forget what else – but that was enough to sell it for me! It had a wonderfully fresh and slightly sweet flavor, complimented by bright fresh corn and cilantro.
Ben opted for the smokey tomato risotto with beans.
Ben’s main course: grilled flank steak, basil chimichurri, garden fresh beans and corn, and twice baked potato.
And I went for the pomegranate and cumin glazed bluefish with garlicky cucumber yogurt sauce, grilled eggplant and whipped potato. There was also some spinach in there, under the fish. Note quite as pretty as Ben’s plate, but definitely just as delicious. I loved how the top of the fish was perfectly seared to a crisp, while the meat underneath was nice and tender.
A group shot of my awesome friends!
For dessert I chose the frozen chocolate pistachio cassata, not quite knowing what a cassata was. It turned out to be sponge cake layered with pistachio and chocolate ice creams, with some vanilla mousse, strawberries and plenty of crunchy pistachios. To give you an idea of how good this was, each of the ladies ordered the same thing and found room to finish every last bite!
Naturally, Ben chose the other option with chocolate in the description: a chocolate espresso torta with caramelized peaches, vanilla cream and crunchy hazelnuts.
Finally, a shot of some of my best girlfriends – and sorority sisters. Thank you for celebrating with me!

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25 Responses to “27!”

  1. 1

    newlywed — August 23, 2010 @ 1:03 pm Reply

    Happy Birthday! Glad you enjoyed Rialto…we ate there last weekend, and loved it!

  2. 2

    Elina — August 23, 2010 @ 1:27 pm Reply

    Happy birthday!!!!! Sounds like you've been celebrating wonderfully. I voted for your recipe again. :)

  3. 3

    Lizzy — August 23, 2010 @ 1:58 pm Reply

    Happy Birthday Cara! Sounds like you had such an amazing weekend. I've been wanting to try Rialto. Looks delicious : )

  4. 4

    beeskneeslife — August 23, 2010 @ 2:02 pm Reply

    Happy Birthday! Looks like you had an amazing yummy weekend :)

  5. 5

    Taste of Beirut — August 23, 2010 @ 2:40 pm Reply

    Happy birthday! How sweet of your mom and mom in law to go through all this trouble to make you happy! They sound just adorable! Wonderful dishes and the restaurant sounds great! You look so very pretty and happy.

  6. 6

    Kelsey — August 23, 2010 @ 2:52 pm Reply

    Happy birthday!

  7. 7

    Katie @ Health for the Whole Self — August 23, 2010 @ 3:07 pm Reply

    3 Things:1. Happy birthday!2. You're gorgeous.3. I just voted for you! :)

  8. 8

    Dawn — August 23, 2010 @ 3:15 pm Reply

    Oh my gosh Happy Birthday! What a wonderful and special birthday celebration your family gave you. I can't complain either…mine is on Thursday so my friends took me out over the weekend and we had a wonderful meal and then fun and dancing. Aren't we so lucky to have such wonderful friends and family! Thank you for sharing your b-day celebration with us…you look gorgeous!

  9. 9

    ChubbyNewlywed — August 23, 2010 @ 4:38 pm Reply

    Happy birthday! What an awesome friend-and-family-filled celebration! You are also absolutely adorable. I love your birthday outfit.

  10. 10

    Ashlee — August 23, 2010 @ 4:56 pm Reply

    Looks like you had an amazing birthday weekend! All of the chocolate looks absolutely delicious and the apron is too cute :) Happy Birthday!

  11. 11

    Kerstin — August 23, 2010 @ 6:31 pm Reply

    Happy Birthday!! Glad you're having such an incredible celebration :)Just voted and you're in the lead – sounds like a very tasty recipe!

  12. 12

    Kelly — August 23, 2010 @ 11:04 pm Reply

    Happy birthday. All the food (and you too my dear) look fantastic. I'm off to vote too and coincidentally, I'm also up in a different recipe contest.I would love, love, love your support if you have a minute. All you have to do is visit the following link and click that you like my video. I would much appreciate it. :0) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCkllXlndi4

  13. 13

    Kelly — August 23, 2010 @ 11:06 pm Reply

    Just voted and BTW it looks like you are by far in the lead!!!

  14. 14

    carascravings — August 24, 2010 @ 12:27 am Reply

    Wow!It all looks so delicious.I love your pink skirt, too cute!

  15. 15

    brannyboilsover.com — August 24, 2010 @ 1:13 am Reply

    Happy BdAY!

  16. 16

    Alexandra London-Gross — August 24, 2010 @ 1:19 am Reply

    Happy Birthday! :) Hope you had a wonderful day!!Alex @ ieatasphalt.com

  17. 17

    Joanne — August 24, 2010 @ 2:48 am Reply

    Oh my, how cute are your family and friends! I love how your mom and MIL went to all that trouble to choose your FAVORITE meal. Adorable. I voted for you! Happy birthday Cara!

  18. 18

    Stephanie — August 24, 2010 @ 4:55 pm Reply

    Looks like you had a fabulous birthday!! Lots of great food & fun! Thanks for sharing it with us! A very happy birthday to you! p.s. I voted for you:)

  19. 19

    grace — August 24, 2010 @ 9:04 pm Reply

    happy birthday, dear cara. i'm glad to see that you ate well. :)

  20. 20

    Tyler — August 26, 2010 @ 2:12 am Reply

    Wow! Looks like you had two amazing birthday dinners! Lucky girl :)

  21. 21

    Jen — August 26, 2010 @ 1:06 pm Reply

    Happy belated birthday Cara. Both celebrations look like a bunch of fun. You mom and MIL did a great job making a Cara-esque meal! I love the skirt you wore to Rialto too.

  22. 22

    feerlessfood.com — October 30, 2010 @ 7:41 am Reply

    Hey I just came across your blog and think its great! I can't wait to try some of your recipes! Thanks!

  23. 23

    feerlessfood.com — April 5, 2011 @ 1:15 am Reply

    Hey I just came across your blog and think its great! I can't wait to try some of your recipes! Thanks!

  24. 24

    Elina — April 5, 2011 @ 1:15 am Reply

    Happy birthday!!!!! Sounds like you've been celebrating wonderfully. I voted for your recipe again. :)

  25. 25

    newlywed — April 5, 2011 @ 1:15 am Reply

    Happy Birthday! Glad you enjoyed Rialto…we ate there last weekend, and loved it!

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