This is another project from my Mother-in-law Shelley that I am definitely going to try out. These wonderful little chocolate cookies have a show-stopping presence that is much easier to do that it looks. They are made using Spinning Leaf molds, colored melting chocolate, and oreo cookies. The beautiful prints are made by using chocolate transfer sheets. Spinning leaf also has a helpful tutorial on their website. How fun!
Here is another fabulous treat that was showcased at the birthday party. I totally never would have thought of this! I had always thought that gourmet popcorn was something that you could only get from high end popcorn stands at the mall or hand delivered from small family owned companies in the midwest. This was pretty easy and turned out great! We popped the popcorn in our home air-popper and used a recipe found online to make it sweet, crunchy, and colorful. The acrylic stands are ones that you can use for ice cream cones and we used these cute little polka dotted treat cones to keep the popcorn easy to nibble on while chatting during the party.
Kool Aid Popcorn Recipe
source: Tasty Kitchen
2 cups Sugar
1 cup Light Corn Syrup
2/3 cups Butte or Margarine
6 quarts Plain Popped Popcorn
2 packages Kool-Aid (Any Flavor/Color)
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
Preheat oven to 225° F.
Boil sugar, syrup and butter/margarine together for 3 minutes.
In a large shallow greased baking dish, spread out popped popcorn.
Remove sugar syrup from the stove and carefully stir in the Kool-Aid and baking soda. This will make the mixture bubble — this is normal, but be careful not to get burned.
Pour the sugar mixture over the popcorn. Carefully mix until well combined.
Place it in the oven and stir every 10 minutes. Repeat this 3 more times.
Take popcorn out of the oven and when it starts to cool, break it apart into pieces.
It is good to let the popcorn cool overnight so that it can really dry and have a crunchy coating.
My niece Becca LOVES princesses so we made her this tower of yummy girly cupcakes. I used Gale Gand’s Buttercream Frosting Recipe from Food Network and it turned out pretty well. It definitely needed a pinch of salt, though. The cute flowers are from fancyflours.com. They have so many wonderful cake decorating supplies! I will definitely be perusing their great selection.
My Mother-in-law Shelley has the magic touch when it comes to making parties wonderful. For my niece’s 5th birthday party she threw the most perfect pink princess party you will ever see. One of my favorite things from the party was this candy bar that she put together. It is a gorgeous array of colorful pink and yellow candies that are incredibly pleasing to the eye.
I think one of the keys to a successful display like this one is the variety of textures and shades of yellow and pink. It is tied all together by the glistening glass jars. I love apothecary jars! I think they are so incredibly chic and functional. You can find the tall ones at Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel has quite a few cute ones, too.
Stay tuned for more party ideas to come!
I guess I have been doing a lot of food lately… This week was pretty hard for me, so for a little pick me up I turned to some double chocolate cupcakes. It did just the trick. It was also a great excuse to get out of the house and deliver some to a couple of friends.
During a fun trip to the library last week I picked up Elisa Strauss’s book Confetti Cakes for Kids. It has some pretty fabulous ideas on how to decorate various cakes, cookies, and tasty treats. One of the recipes that caught my eye was the Chocolate Cake recipe. I noticed that it called for sour cream, but I thought it would be fun to channel a little bit of Giada and substitute some mascarpone cheese (which is what I actually had in my refrigerator). It turned out great! The cupcakes were perfectly moist and not too overwhelmingly sweet.
Next was the search for frosting. I decided to try Martha Stewart’s Ultimate Chocolate Frosting. It had wonderful reviews and definitely lived up to my expectations. I used a dark dutch cocoa powder that has quite a darker color than the average cocoa powder, which was nice for my monochromatic theme with the cupcake liners and the cupcake display tree. The trick to frosting these cupcakes is to start in the middle and then work your way out. This way, it looks more like a rose bud rather than a soft serve ice cream cone. I used a large Wilton star tip to pipe the frosting and kept twisting my wrist to keep the peaks where I wanted them to go. It was surprisingly easy and they turned out looking pretty nice.
Chocolate Cupcake Recipe
yields approximately 24 cupcakes
adapted from Confetti Cakes for Kids
2 2/3 cups (12 oz) all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (8 oz) mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure almond extract*
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/4 (10 oz) cups strongly brewed coffee, room temperature**
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Place your cupcake liners in your muffin pans.
- Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In a separate bowl, combine mascarpone cheese with almond and vanilla extracts.
- In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until it is nicely whipped. Add the sugar and beat until smooth.
- With mixer running on low, add each egg in one at a time.
- Add mascarpone cheese mixture.
- In small batches, add the dry ingredients.
- Once the dry ingredients are incorporated add the coffee and beat until well combined.
- Fill your liners and bake the cupcakes in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they spring back after being touched.
- Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting.
*If you have any nut allergies, you can replace the almond extract with vanilla.
**Coffee enhances the flavor of the chocolate, but if you do not want to use it, you can replace it with equal parts milk (5 oz) and water (5 oz).
Chocolate Frosting Recipe
source: Martha Stewart
3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup cocoa powder (recommended: Valrhona)
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup milk, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Sift together the confectioner’s sugar and the cocoa powder.
- With a hand mixer or stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat the butter until fluffy.
- Add the sifted sugar and cocoa powder mixture, milk, and vanilla extract and beat until smooth and creamy.
- Ice the cupcakes either with a spatula or pipe it on with your selected piping tip.
I have to admit that I have been a little obsessed with the Pioneer Woman (Ree Drummond) on Food Network Lately. Her food is always so yummy! So I thought I would share a couple recipes of hers that I used the other day. I know a lot of her recipes begin with a stick of butter, but I thought it would be pretty to pipe this tasty herb butter into little mountains. I piped the butter onto aluminum foil and then put it into the freezer for a few minutes to make it nice and firm. I thought that was a fun little trick and it worked pretty well. They melted just the right amount on top of my grilled NY strip steak. The spinach was also a perfect companion.
So now I bring you…. My take on the lovely Ree Drummond’s Hotel Butter and Creamed Spinach!
Herbed “Hotel” Butter Recipe
adapted from Food Network’s Pioneer Woman
1 stick unsalted Butter, Softened
2 Tablespoons dried parsley
2 teaspoons garlic salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
zest of 1 lemon
pepper to taste
- Mix together all of the ingredients until you have a nice consistency.
- Serve the butter as is, form into a conventional stick of butter and refrigerate for later use, or pipe the butter into swirls.
- If you choose to pipe the butter into swirls or scoop them into balls or any other shape that needs to hold its form, place the shapes onto a piece of parchment or foil and cool in the freezer for a few minutes to allow the shapes to set. Once they are set you can serve them or keep them in the fridge.
Steakhouse style Creamed Spinach
adapted from: Food Network’s Pioneer Woman
1 stick Butter
8 Tablespoons Flour
1/2 whole Medium Onion, Finely Diced
3 cloves Garlic, Finely Minced
2 cups Milk
Salt And Pepper, to taste
1 pinch Ground Nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
24 ounces, weight Baby Spinach
1/2 cup shredded parmesan
- Put a little butter in the pan and add in the onions. Once the onions are soft, add the garlic.
- Make a roux by melting the rest of the butter in the pan and adding the flour. Continue to stir for the next few minutes until you get a nice light brown color.
- Slowly stir in the milk, whisking constantly. You don’t want any unsightly lumps.
- Season the sauce with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. If you can grate the nutmeg fresh, it is always the best!
- Add the spinach into the sauce and stir until nicely wilted.
- Sir in the parmesan and serve immediately.
My husband loves a good wedge salad. This one definitely fit the bill. It has yummy creamy homemade dressing and thick cut peppered bacon. You can always add more bacon if you like. Since I’m from California and I love avocado, I just had to add some into the mix.
Wedge Salad Recipe
1 head iceberg lettuce, cut into 4 wedges
4 slices cooked thick cut peppered bacon, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
2 tomatoes, diced
1 avocado, diced
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese, plus some extra to top on the salad
Salt and pepper to taste
- Make the dressing by putting all of ingredients into a blender. Blend until smooth.
- Arrange each plate with one wedge of lettuce.
- Drizzle each wedge with dressing.
- Top with the bacon, green onions, tomato, avocado, and blue cheese crumbles.
I have come to realize that although I thoroughly enjoy crafting projects, I also thoroughly enjoy cooking and baking. Thus, I shall begin to also share what I have been cooking.
This lemon bar recipe is a mix of my mother in law’s “luscious lemon bar” topping and a spiced graham cracker crust. I had some dried out ginger snap cookies in my pantry and didn’t want to waste them. So I blended them up with some graham crackers to make this yummy crust. If you don’t have spiced cookies around, you can also just make this crust with all graham crackers and add a little bit of ground ginger and ground cinnamon into the crumbs
Lemon Bars Recipe
Powdered sugar for dusting
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup flour
6 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice.
1 cup crushed graham crackers
1 cup ginger snaps crumbs (preferably from a dried out or crunchy cookie)
6 Tablespoons melted butter
3 Tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 375°F and line a 9″ x 13″ baking pan with parchment paper
- Mix together all the ingredients for the crust. Press firmly into the baking pan.
- Bake the crust for about 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.
- Lower the oven temperature to 350°F
- Mix together all the ingredients for the filling and pour onto the cooled crust. Bake in 350°F oven for 30 minutes.
- Cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
I love this Sugarplums Summer Emma stamp from CC Designs! I was able to pick up quite a few CC Designs stamps from this year’s used stamp sale at Cranberry Hill Mercantile. It has become one of my favorite little shops to go to. I colored the stamp with my Copic Sketch Markers, but unfortunately I did not write down which colors I used. I will try to do that in the future!
This card is a birthday card for my mother-in-law Shelley. I hope she likes it!
My husband calls this cake I made for my son’s 1st birthday party prehistoric because of its impressively large teeth. It was 11:30 pm the day before the party and I decided that I didn’t feel like rolling out tons of teeny tiny marzipan teeth so I made a few macho ones. The idea for this cake came from the Hello Cupcake book by Karen Tack & Alan Richardson. What a fun book! It was gifted to me by my sister-in-law Jen for my birthday.
The scales are made from Ghirardelli chocolate squares (halved) and cream cheese frosting. All of the little details like the eyes, claws, nostrils, and teeth are made from marzipan (as I am not a fan of fondant). In the book, the scales of the frosting are individually piped, but considering I did not have anyone else available to help make this cake, I think that simply spreading the icing on with a spatula worked just fine — it is A LOT of cupcakes!
Enjoy the pictures from my son’s birthday party!
Daddy doesn’t look too pleased that Jack is eating frosting…
But he just had to eat some since he helped make it!