Slimming Down

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A few weeks ago, Microsoft announced that they were releasing a new version of the XBox 360.
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Slimmer. Stronger. Sleeker.
The Nerd was instantly intrigued. A *new* XBox?
His XBox Elite was three years old. That’s practically an antique.
Of course, there was nothing *wrong* with it per se, but *eventually* it would die.
So, we had to get a new one.
Just over a week after the model was released, we searched all over DFW for a store with one in stock.
And we *finally* found one at Fry’s in Irving, a mere 26 miles from my parents’ house, where we were spending the weekend.
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Can you see the excitement?
(He probably realized at this point that I was going to make fun of him on the blog. Poor guy.)
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Ok, now he definitely knows I’m going to make fun of him.
And thus begins a series of photos of The Nerd taking the XBox out of its box.
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Ooohhh…shiny.
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This is *our* version of an unboxing video… errr… unboxing photos.
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It’s out of the box!! Can we play games??
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No! We *must* read the instruction manual. Because, you know, XBoxes are *so* complicated and stuff.
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Ok, ok. *Now* we play games.
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And now, all is right in the world.
We have acquired the latest electronic device.
No longer will the fear of a failing XBox plague us.
That is, until a *newer* model is released.
Sigh.
When the new XBox 360 was announced, The Nerd couldn’t *wait* to get his hands on one. Even though the old one still worked.

Pina Colada Cupcakes

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When we first decided to do a luau theme for my cousin’s bridal shower, I knew that I wanted to make margarita cupcakes. But I also wanted to offer a little variety, so when I found this recipe for Piña Colada Cupcakes, I knew this would be a perfect match.
Piña Colada Cupcakes
Cupcake Ingredients:
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2 cups sifted cake flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1.4 tsp. salt
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. coconut extract
4 egg whites
1/2-2/3 cup shredded coconut
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
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Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
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In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamy. Gradually add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
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Add in the flour mixture in three additions, beginning with the flour and alternating with half the milk in between each addition of flour.
Mix well after each addition.
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Stir in the vanilla, coconut extract and shredded coconut.
Transfer the batter to a mixing bowl and set aside.
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Clean your mixer bowl and then beat the egg whites on high until stiff peaks form.
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Using a rubber spatula, carefully fold in the egg whites to the batter, mixing until smooth and blended completely.
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Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.
Divide the batter among the cupcake pan, filling each well about half-full.
Bake until cupcakes are golden, about 15 minutes. Use the toothpick test to make sure they are cooked all the way through.
Frosting Ingredients:
Adapted From: Southern Food
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1 cup butter
8 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
6 tablespoons well drained crushed pineapple
1 to 2 tablespoons pineapple juice
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Cream the butter and gradually beat in the sugar.
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Add in the crushed pineapple, and just enough pineapple juice to make it spreadable.
Frost the cupcakes as desired.
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Enjoy!
Nothing says summer like Piña Colada Cupcakes. Top with shredded coconut and you’ve got a refreshing treat.

Margarita Cupcakes

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There is *nothing* like an ice-cold margarita on a summer night to take the edge off the Texas heat.

I like ‘em frozen…with lots of lime juice and very little tequila.

Oh, and salt around the rim.

Yum.

These Margarita Cupcakes have that same lime-y flavor as your favorite margarita…with just a hint of tequila in the icing.

Margarita Cupcakes
Source: Annie’s Eats

Cupcake Ingredients:

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3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
  1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
3 limes, zested and juiced
  1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk

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Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line two muffin pans with cupcake liners.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

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Cream together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.

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Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

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Add in the lime juice, lime zest and vanilla and beat well.

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Beat in the flour mixture in three additions, starting with the flour mixture and adding the buttermilk after the first and second flour additions.

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Fill the cupcake liners about half-full with the batter.

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Bake 20-24 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool in the pan for about 5 minutes.

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Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Frosting Ingredients:

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2 cups sugar
8 large egg whites
Pinch of coarse salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
2-4 tbsp. tequila

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Combine sugar, egg whites and salt in a medium sauce pan and heat until it reaches 160 degrees F and the sugar has completely dissolved.

Transfer to a stand mixer and beat on medium-high until stiff peaks form and it has cooled to room temperature.

Add in the butter, two tablespoons at a time — mixing well after each addition.

The mixture may start to look curdled…just keep mixing it and, eventually, it will look like this:

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Stir in the lime juice and tequila and squeeze on top of the cooled cupcakes.

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Enjoy!

These Margarita Cupcakes have all the flavor of your favorite summer night concoction, without the bite.

Post It Note Tuesday

It’s been a while since I wrote a Post It Note Tuesday post.
Life’s just been crazy. This week, I decided to write notes to my family.
Don’t forget to check out Supah Mommy’s blog to see what everyone else has to say, Post It Note style!
And, if you’re here from PINT, if you become a follower of my blog, I will follow you back! Just leave me a comment letting me know and I’ll come visit you, too.
Happy Tuesday!

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

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I have been dreaming of making pulled pork sandwiches ever since I first saw this recipe. 
When I offered to host a bridal shower for my cousin, I knew it would be a great debut for this dish.
The pork was yummy and tasty and so, so tender. 
We paired it with Hawaiian rolls and barbecue sauce for cute little mini pulled pork sandwiches.
Pulled Pork
Adapted from: KevinandAmanda.com
Ingredients:
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Dry Rub
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp ground pepper
1 tbsp paprika
1/2 cup brown sugar
Brine Solution
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 qts cold water
3 tbsp dry rub mix
2 bay leaves
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You’ll also need an 4-7 lb. bone-in Boston butt, with a layer of fat on the bottom.
I used a 10 lb. bone-in pork shoulder because I knew I’d be feeding a *bunch* of people.
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Add the dry ingredients to a bowl…
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And mix together with a spoon.
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Put your pork in a large (2 gallon) Ziploc bag…
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And add in the brine solution. Let it refrigerate overnight.
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Put the pork in a crock pot…
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And cover it with the dry rub. 
Cook on low for 10-12 hours.
You’ll know it’s done when the meat just shreds apart.
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Use two forks to shred the meat and get rid of all the fat.
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Here’s what it looks like when it’s all done.
I made this a day early, refrigerated it overnight and heated it back up the day of the shower.
Aren’t these sandwiches cute?
This would be a *great* company meal. It’s been added to my list for when all of my family comes to visit!
It was a *huge* hit at the shower!
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Thanks for looking!
Tender and savory, these pulled pork sandwiches are the perfect meal when you’re feeding a crowd!

Not Me Monday!

Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.

Two weeks ago, I did *not* tell The Nerd that I *really* wanted to get a Flip Video camera. Not me! I would *never* ask for a $180 video camera after just getting a $450 lens for my birthday.

Remember last week when I mentioned I was at a work conference? Well, they did *not* give us totally awesome swag bags that contained…you guessed it… a Flip Video camera! Woohoo!
My first order of business with my super-awesome new camera was *not* to video tape my sweet niece, River. Not me! This is *not* a mommy blog, remember?

My first video is a pretty funny moment.

Out of the mouths of babes, right?

What about you? What are you *not* doing this week?

Thanks for looking!

Sometimes…

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I wonder what’s going on inside her head.
Then I realize that it’s probably full of Wonder Pets and Boots the Monkey and I shudder.
This was right before she shouted, “No Uncle James!”
(Even though he wasn’t doing anything. Because he was getting on her nerves.)
Happy Sunday, and thanks for looking!
Ever wonder what a two-year-old was thinking? Me neither.

Shadow Bound Giveaway Winner!

Last week, I had the chance to interview Erin Kellison, author of Shadow Bound.
Erin graciously offered to give a *signed* copy of her debut novel to one of my readers.
After a week, we had 33 entries.
I used the random number generator at Random.org to choose a winner from the list.
The winning entry was #15…
Tami!
I have sent Tami an e-mail to verify her address. 
If I don’t hear back within 48 hours, I’ll choose another winner.
Thanks to everyone who entered, and to Erin for allowing us to have this giveaway!
PS – Don’t forget to enter my July Book Extravaganza for the chance to win more awesome summer reads.
Thanks for looking!

Friday Finds (5)

Welcome to Friday Finds at The Nerd’s Wife, where I tell you about some super-awesome contests going on around the blogosphere.
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Steph is giving away an ARC of Halo by Alexandra Adornetto, which looks like an *awesome* read!
Contest Ends July 30.
US Only.
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The Compulsive Reader is giving away *five* copies of White Cat by Holly Black and some other swag.
Contest Ends July 23.
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Claire de Lune Sequel Title Contest by Christine Johnson

This contest is for book bloggers only.

The title to the sequel of Claire de Lune by Christine Johnson has not yet been released. And Christine is giving a *book blogger* the chance to announce the title.

How cool is that?

Contest Ends July 18.

You can enter the contest at her blog.

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And lastly, don’t forget to enter my July Book Extravaganza!
I only need *10* more followers to reach 250 followers and add a *fifth* winner to the mix!
The grand prize winner gets a choice of two books from the list, and everyone else gets one book from the list.
Contest Ends July 31.
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If you’re here from the Book Blogger Hop, welcome!
 Jennifer asked: Right this instant, what book are you dying to get your hands on (past, present, or future)?

Well, as most will probably answer (even Jennifer herself!), I am *dying* to read Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins.

I haven’t been this excited about a book release since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling.

Can’t wait!

If you become a follower, leave me a comment and I’ll go follow you back!

Same goes for all of my Follow Friday friends — just leave me a comment, letting me know you are a new follower, and I’ll follow you back!
Happy Friday!



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