As the celebrities walk the red carpet in glamorous gowns and tuxedos, for us non-celebrities, it’s always fun to watch the glitz and glamour of Hollywood in the comfort of our own living rooms.
Growing up, the night of the Academy Awards was always like New Years Eve for me. The excitement of filling out ballots and crossing my fingers that my favorite star would win. What would they say in their acceptance speech? Would they cry? Would it be controversial?
I also always loved the live musical performances. Those are some of my fondest memories. Oscar night is always a fun night to munch on desserts and snacks. Here’s my favorite Peanut Butter/ Chocolate Cupcake recipe. They're easy to make and fun to eat.
Amazing Peanut Butter/ Chocolate Cupcakes
Ingredients For the Cupcakes: •
• 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 3 large eggs, at room temperature
• 3/4 cup granulated sugar
• 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
• 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
• 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
• 3/4 cup whole milk
• 2 cups chopped salted roasted peanuts, plus more for garnish
• For the Nougat Frosting:
• 4 cups marshmallow creme (about 2 (7-ounce) jars)*
• 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
• Pinch of salt
For the Chocolate Frosting:
• 6 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
• 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
• 2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
• 1/4 cup whole milk • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
• 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
Make the cupcakes: Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line two 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In another bowl, beat the eggs and both sugars with a mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Gradually beat in the melted butter and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add half of the flour mixture, the milk and then the remaining flour. Fold in the peanuts but don't overmix. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cups, filling each about halfway. Bake until a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean, 20 to 22 minutes. Let cool in the pans 10 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely.
Make the nougat frosting: Beat the marshmallow creme, peanut butter and salt with a mixer until smooth; set aside. Make the chocolate frosting: Put both chocolates in a large microwave-safe bowl and microwave on 50 percent power until soft, about 1 minute. Stir, then continue to microwave until melted, 1 to 2 more minutes.
Add the confectioners' sugar, milk, butter, vanilla and salt and beat with a mixer until smooth and creamy. Spread nougat frosting over each cupcake, then top with chocolate frosting, leaving some of the nougat exposed. Garnish with peanuts.
Hope you enjoy!
On September 29th, 2012 our lives changed forever as we welcomed our baby girl Lucy Vivien Haugh into the world. Stubborn like her mommy, she didn’t want to come out. She was already one week past her due date and I hadn’t gone into labor so my doctor decided to induce. My labor started the morning of September 28th and lasted all day. I finally started pushing at midnight on the 29th. Three hours of pushing and still no Lucy.
The decision was made that I needed to have a c-section. I was never so happy to have surgery. I remember thinking “Yea! I get painkillers!” Lucy was born at 3:54 in the morning and I’ll never forget the first time I saw her beautiful face.
It’s amazing how much joy and love a tiny little baby can bring into your life. I can’t remember what my life was like without her. The way she smiles in the morning just lights up the whole world. All the little things she does, the way she dances when we wind up the mobile over her crib and falls asleep in her bouncy chair with her head turned to the side and her hand in a fist.
She’s so perfect. I now understand a mother’s love. I’ve never felt so much love in my life. It’s amazing how, at only two months old, we can already see little hints of Lucy’s personality. I like to guess what she’s going to be like when she gets older. Will she like ballet or baseball? Will she want to take piano lessons? Maybe she’ll become a concert pianist, she already has long slender fingers, perfect for a keyboard. Maybe she’ll be a writer, or a doctor, or she might want to be a news reporter like her mom and her grandpa. Whatever she does, I just hope she’s happy. I hope she’ll always have that smile that lights up the world.
It was September 15th, 1984. I was 6-years-old. I had butterflies of excitement in my stomach as my mom was scurrying packing a picnic lunch for our all day canoe trip. I put my bathing suit on under my yellow flowered jumper and I was ready to go. It was one of those days where the minute hand on the clock seemed like it wasn’t moving. Ever the impatient one (I got that reputation by being over a month pre-mature and being born at home, my dad always told me to slow down) I paced back and forth from the living room to my bedroom “Hurry up!” I was thinking to myself. My brother and sister were still getting ready.
Me at the time of the trip
Our friends Lucian and Garo were coming on the trip with us. They were Romanian Immigrants, escaped to The United States during the Cold War. The Jurj's were moving to Detroit, Michigan so Lucian could go to law school and this was the perfect going away party trip. My mom was always adventurous, I loved that about her.
We were finally in the car and ready to go. The windows were down, the breeze was warm and the road seemed to go on forever. Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” was in the cassette player, I was in the backseat with a cold can of Pepsi, crammed in like a sardine with Jeff, who was 7, 4-year-old Jill, and our friend Garo, she was 16. Our friend Lucian was in the front passenger seat, he was 19. He wanted to become an American citizen and study to be a lawyer.
Garo Jurj and her brother John, and my sister Jill
Lucian and Garo's parents owned the Buchaneer Motel in Daytona Beach. My family rented a cottage from their family. Gara worked as a maid at the hotel and took Jill and I with her to help clean the rooms, she paid us with vending machine goodies, cans of Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, or Mountain Dew, and Mentos or salted almonds, those were my favorites. The adventure has begun.
Bump, bump, bump, bump, we were pulling into the gravel driveway of the canoe marina at the Wakiva River. We had taken canoe trips before. I always loved seeing the alligators swim by. They never bothered you as long as you didn’t bother them, they ate at night after all. We walked out to the boat rentals and we got three canoes, my mom was in one with Jill, Lucian and Jeff were in one, and me and Garo were in one. My mom had the picnic lunch in her canoe. We would stop at a shore along the way when we got hungry.
My sister and I with Lucian Jurj, 1984
It was around 2:00 in the afternoon and the sun was beating down on the water, we were paddling through the swampy Everglades. My brother Jeff was hungry so we decided to stop for lunch. We pulled our canoes on the muddy shore, first my mom and sister, then me and Garo, and finally Lucian and Jeff. We had a great time for about an hour, when we decided it was time to paddle back to shore.
Lucian waded out in waste deep water straightening one of the canoes when he suddenly shouted “Ow, I think I stepped on glass!” We didn’t think anything of it, after all this was a popular place to go boating. Some fisherman probably dropped a beer bottle in the lake.
As the afternoon wore on we realized something was definitely wrong with Lucian, he wasn’t acting right. My mom asked to look at his foot and realized that wasn’t glass, Lucian was bitten by a deadly coral snake. Being a transplanted Floridian, after all we lived there for three years now, my mom knew a little about snake bites. It’s one of those things you learn. Like how we would laugh at the “Yankees” catching jellyfish on the beach. For snake bites, you need to suck the poison out. It might have been too late. Lucian was already stumbling and slurring his speech.
It was getting dark and a little chilly and we didn’t have a fire. We tried yelling for help but there was no one around. We were stuck, but we weren’t alone, we heard rustling in the distance and we all knew what that was, alligators, and they were hungry. We gathered palm branches and any possible kindling and built a little fire, it kept us warm but made us magnets for mosquitoes. We even used one of the canoes as firewood. I lost count of how many times I was bitten by mosquitoes. Lucian was laying up against a tree. Occasionally my mom would send my brother to get water for him. He wasn’t making any sense, crying and screaming. I was scared.
At one point we saw a pontoon boat go by and we all yelled as loud as we could for help. It passed right by us. They were probably alligator poachers and didn’t want caught.
We were running out of materials to use in our fire and we needed it to keep the gators away. We started burning our clothes. My mom threw one of her dresses into the fire and Jeff burned his favorite pair of swim trunks. We had nothing left, no food, nothing to drink but swamp water, and just the clothes on our backs. Lucian was dying, we were losing hope. It was 2:00am, we had been trapped for 12 hours but it seemed like much longer.
It was so dark and so cold and the mosquitoes were swarming. Lucian had finally fallen asleep for a few hours. My mom and Garo didn’t know what to do. At one point in his hallucinating he grabbed my mom by the throat and choked her so hard it damaged her vocal cords. Then, as if it was a miracle, he woke up. The first thing he did was ask how "the boys are", signalling he was still a little out of it, out of it but he’s awake and he’s okay, all but a little shaken.
We knew what we had to do, we had to get off the island. The only problem was that meant taking one canoe with all 6 of us crammed inside out in the middle of the night in waters thick with alligators, if we tipped we’d be in the water with the gators, in other words we’d be “goners”. It was a coin-toss, a choice of life or death, stay stranded and let the alligators eat us, or try to save ourselves. We chose life, we’d gone through too much to give up. It was the dead of night, and I remember an eerie calm that came over me as I got back into that canoe, we only had one canoe now, one filled with water and we had to use the oar from the other one as firewood. I remember the ripple that was made by the paddle in the water, the occasional splash of an alligator in the distance. We barely made a sound the whole way back to shore. It seemed like we were in those boats forever.
There was a peak of sun so it must be dawn, we had finally reached the shore. We had to call the police to let us into Garo’s car because her car keys went overboard. My mom couldn’t get a hold of my dad, but was able to reach another friend to come get us. My sister and I both had over 200 mosquito bites, Jeff had burned hands from the fire, my mom had injured vocal cords and couldn’t talk, Lucian was still recovering from the snake bite, but we were all alive. I think back to that canoe trip and I’m still amazed we all survived to tell the story.
The following is the real newspaper article from the Daytona Beach Newspaper