Pool Party: My Nephew’s 1st Birthday

Pool Party 1st Birthday: Under The Sea Cake

I come from a very large family, and my nephew turned one last week and so we celebrated in style.  It was a collaborative effort by friends and family with ideas from everyone and Pinterest. It turned out so cute I thought I would share some of the highlights. The cake above came from the very talented Creative Wine-O, check out her facebook page here. The detail was stunning. The beach ball was the “smash” cake and even the sand dollars were edible.

Pool Party 1st Birthday: Watch Me Grow Time Line

To celebrate his first revolution around the sun my sister made a timeline, featuring a picture from each of his 12 months. Use ribbon and clothes pins to hang. Make sure you put it in a place that is easily accessible so all guest can admire it.  We also used this as the back drop when he ate his birthday cake. We placed his high chair in front.

Pool Party 1st Birthday: Fish Craft

We hung a fishing net ( available at party stores) over the main food table and attached sand molds to it. We also had a craft table so that some of the older kids could make paper plate fish to hang in the net. We also used sand buckets and shovels to serve some of the food in.

Pool Party 1st Birthday: Shark Bite Fruit Salad

Pool Party 1st Birthday: Shark Bite Fruit Salad

One of the highlights of the food table was this awesome watermelon carved into a shark by my brother-in-law. We then filled it with various cut up fruit.

Pool Party 1st Birthday: Blow Fish Fruit Platter

He also made a cantaloupe into a blow fish.

Pool Party 1st Birthday: Fish Veggie Tray

Vegetables morphed into a tropical fish.

Pool Party 1st Birthday: Octopus Spinach Dip

Spinach dip was turned into a jolly octopus using a bread bowl and pretzel sticks.

Pool Party 1st Birthday: Hummus Beach

Make your own hummus beach by spreading hummus in a shallow tray ( I used a clear lid to a casserole) and decorate with drink umbrellas and Pretzel Crisp crabs.

Pool Party 1st Birthday: Dolphin Finger Sandwiches

I found a dolphin sandwich cutter at Sweetbay, perfect to make mini sandwiches for the kids.

Pool Party 1st Birthday: Bait Bucket

Swedish fish and gummy worms turned into an edible bait bucket decoration.

Pool Party 1st Birthday: Party Favors

Each child got to take a bit of the fun home. Our good family friend made party buckets out of plain sand buckets decorated with stickers and ribbon and filled with beach themed goodies from the dollar store.

It was a true success and a joyous celebration of one of our youngest family members birthday.

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Graduation Party Revisited

Graduation Party Ideas

I can’t believe it has been a whole year since my oldest graduated from high school. He has now completed his first year of college and is working part time. He votes, pays taxes and insurance and is a true adult in everyone’s eyes but mine, to me he is still my baby. As I see many parents getting ready to celebrate their own children’s accomplishments and graduations I decided to revisit some of the highlights from last year’s graduation party and post them here.

For decorations we did all of our sons school and baby pictures under a sheet of clear plastic on the table, it was fun to reminisce and see all the crazy hairstyles he went through as a preteen. We also rolled the napkins into diploma shapes and tied them with black ribbons. Then made little stacks of them around the table.

Graduation diploma napkins

For food we incorporated his favorite food, chips and set up a chip and dip bar. We set out various types of chips and dips in different bowls plates and cake stands and let everyone mix and match.

Chip and Dip Bar

Don’t worry we also had vegetables for dipping.

Veggie platter

Some dip ideas are… ( click on the link for the recipes)

Salsa and Guacamole

Bacon Horseradish

Kalamata Olive

Beer Cheese

Goat Cheese and Marinara

Sweet Potato Hummus

Pimento Cheese

Also you could include some dessert dips

Creamy Reese’s Peanut Butter Dip

Key Lime Pie Dip

I was lazy and let Publix make the cake, but this book cake would be pretty easy to replicate using 2 different sized rectangular or square pans.

Publix's Book Style Graduation Cake

Congrats to all who graduated and the people that helped them get there, have fun celebrating this momentous occasion.

Book Club: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened and Chocolate Chip Crumb Cake Loaf

Let's Pretend This Never Happened- Jenny Lawson

 

This month’s book was a real hoot, laugh out loud funny in fact. A refreshing change from our woman in peril books we often read. This is the memoir of blogger Jenny Lawson, daughter of a taxidermist who lived a bizarre childhood that you could only laugh about. she definitely puts the fun in dysfunctional as she tries to make a life for herself as a mother, wife, friend and now blogger. You can check out her blog here. We had fun with this book club with one of our member even setting a giant chicken (its in the book) on the hostesses doorstep and ringing the bell and hiding. I still don’t know how she found the chicken.

Let's Pretend This Never Happened, Giant Chicken

As for food this was a hard one because Jenny can’t cook except for the microwave and that just wouldn’t cut it at our all foodie book club. I decided to make a chocolate chip “loaf” because she tells the story of when she was trying to sell the house she stuck a whole roll of chocolate chip cookie dough in the oven for the smell, and it started on fire. It was good and even better the next day as all crumb cakes are.

Chocolate Chip Crumb Cake Loaf

Chocolate Chip Crumb Cake Loaf

 

Cake

1 1/4 c flour

1/2 c cake flour

1 stick butter

3/4 t baking powder

1/4 t baking soda

1 c chocolate chips

3/4 c sugar

1/2 c buttermilk

2 eggs

1 t vanilla extract

1/2 T lemon zest

Topping

1 c flour

1 c sugar

1/2 stick hard butter

chocolate chips

powdered sugar

 

Pre heat oven to 350. Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl and set aside. Cream softened butter in a mixer, add zest, and slowly add sugar. add in eggs and vanilla  and beat until just combined. Add 1/3 flour mixture to mixer, then 1/2 buttermilk, then 1/3 flour, 1/2 buttermilk, and finally lat 1/3 of flour. mix until combined scraping down the sides. Stir in chocolate chips and pour into a greased loaf pan.

Combine the butter flour and sugar for the topping mixing with a fork or your hand until crumbly. Sprinkle on top of the batter and then sprinkle with Chocolate chips. Bake for 40 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out clean. Sprinkle with sifted powdered sugar if desired.

Chocolate Chip Crumb Cake Loaf

 

 

Irish Coffee Cupcakes

Irish Coffee Cupcakes

St. Patrick’s Day is one of my favorite holidays, that figures since I am German. However, I always feel a little Irish this time of year, I think we all do. So celebrate and make these delicious Mocha Cupcakes with Bailey’s Irish Cream Frosting.  This recipe makes about 10 cupcakes, double it if you are having the whole family over of a party.

Irish Coffee Cupcakes

for the  mocha cake

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 T instant espresso coffee crystals

1 t baking powder

1/4 t baking soda

3/4 c milk

1/4 c shortening

1/2t vanilla

1 egg

Preheat oven to 350

Combine all dry ingredients into a bowl. Add milk, shortening and vanilla, beat on med speed for 2 minutes. Add egg and beat 2 more minutes.

Pour into muffin tins lined with baking cups. (I use an ice cream scoop, so that they are all filled evenly) Bake for about 22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let Cool.

Bailey’s Irish Cream Frosting

1/4 c butter softened

2 1/2 c powdered sugar

1 T Bailey’s Irish Cream

2 T milk

Cream butter on low-med speed until smooth, add 2 c powdered sugar and beat until combined. Add Bailey’s and milk, beat until smooth. Add remaining 1/4 of powdered sugar slowly until frosting is desired consistency.

Frost cup cakes and sprinkle with nutmeg or cinnamon if desired.

IMG_7217 IMG_7210

Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Nutella Glaze

 

Fall is here, time to use one of my favorite seasonal ingredients, pumpkin.

Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Nutella Glaze

1 15 oz can of pumpkin puree

1 c canola or vegetable oil

4 eggs

1 T vanilla

2/3 c water

3 c sugar

3 1/2 c flour

2 t baking soda

1 1/2 t salt

1 t cinnamon

1 t nutmeg

1/4 t cloves

1/2 t ginger

1 c chocolate chips

1/4 c Nutella spread

2 T powdered sugar

2-4 T milk

 

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a large bundt cake pan. In a large mixing bowl whisk together pumpkin, eggs, oil, water, vanilla and sugar. In a medium bowl stir together, flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Add dry ingredients to wet gradually stirring until smooth.

 

Add chocolate chips and pour into prepared bundt pan. Bake in oven for 50 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted comes out clean.

 

Let cake cool in pan. Meanwhile make Nutella glaze by whisking together Nutella, powdered sugar and milk. Add milk a tablespoon at a time until desired consistency. When cake is cool invert onto a plate or cake stand. Drizzle glaze over top and serve.

 

 

Hunker Down and Eat Cake : Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake with Strawberries

It’s that time of year here in Florida, hurricane season. Tropical Storm Isaac is making his way into the Gulf of Mexico and even though we are not in the direct path (yet) we will still have some wind and rain. They even canceled school tomorrow, my kids are really disappointed (yeah right ). So I am posting a favorite cake recipe, I find I like to bake on rainy days. This one is dark and decadent, a favorite from my Southern Living Cookbook.

Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake with White Icing and Strawberries

8 oz of semi sweet chocolate chips or chocolate chopped

1 16 oz can of chocolate syrup

1 c butter softened

2 c sugar

4 eggs, large

2 1/2 c flour

1/2 t baking soda

1/4 t salt

1 c butter milk

1 t vanilla extract

For Frosting

2 c powdered sugar

3-4 T milk

1 t vanilla extract

Garnish:

1 c halved strawberries

 

Pre heat oven to 325. Melt chocolate chips in microwave or double boiler. stir in chocolate syrup and stir until smooth.

In a large bowl or stad up mixer, beat butter on med speed until creamy and add sugar, then eggs 1 at a time. In a med bowl mix together flour baking soda and salt. add 1/2 to butter mixture  mixing on low speed. Then the buttermilk then the rest of the flour, mixing the whole time. stir in vanilla and chocolate mixture and pour into a greased and floured bundt pan. Bake for 1hr and 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack for 15 min then turn pan and invert cake on to the wire rack, cool for another 30 minutes.

For frosting, stir together powdered sugar, milk and vanilla in a small bowl. Pour over cooled cake and top with strawberries.

 

Olympics, That Sounds Like a Reason to Party

I will find any excuse to dress up or have a party, but this was a good one. My favorite band, Duran Duran was doing an Olympic concert, my birthday was a couple of days away and the opening ceremonies were on TV. Unfortunately the concert was not televised but that didn’t stop me.

First the decorations, I decided to go international, I made some easy flag centerpieces from styrofoam and dollar flags from the party store.Cover 2 rectangular styrofoam blocks with colored paper. I cut the paper and used tape at the joints so it would bend around the styrofoam so I could reuse them for another party.

I also painted the olympic rings onto the paper using a top to a pill bottle and paint and then stamping it onto the paper.

Paint around or dip the bottle top into paint and then use like a stamp.

insert your flags into the styrofoam and then you could pour colored glass or pebbles over the top of the styrofoam to cover it ( I forgot to do this step on mine). Paper crinkles would also work.

Use paper flag toothpicks for appetizers or sandwiches

Spell out your favorite team (or band) with vegetables.

Serve Olympic themed desserts, My friend used mini M&M’s to make the olympic rings on her coconut cake

or try the Olympic Fruit Tart

We played lots of silly games, like Olympic Themed Pictionary (divide into 2 teams and draw different events, countries, athletes, or London landmarks or traditions), Minute to Win It’s “How’s it Hanging“, and Diving for Cherries ( put a maraschino cherry in a bowl cover with whipped cream and using only your mouth try to get the cherry, whoever gets it first wins)

and of course there were costumes and medals. Buy some at the dollar store or make your own with paper circles, glitter and ribbon.

Dress as your favorite athlete, event or country and have fun!

60 is Nifty! A Birthday Party and Stuffed Mushrooms

My mom turned 60 last week so my siblings and I, there are a lot of them, threw her a birthday party.  As it has become tradition for milestone birthdays, I made her a slide show of pictures throughout her life, teamed it up with some of her favorite songs and showed it during the party . It’s on DVD so she will have it as a take home souvenir. My sisters and I did the decorations. I am not one for the typical black and gloomy, over the hill type parties so we went for a festive and colorful look. We made lots of tissue flower bouquets.

To make, take large sheets of tissue paper and cut into fourths. stack 6-8 sheets of the cut paper together and accordion fold the short side. wrap a pipe cleaner around the middle tightly and cut the ends into a scallop or point. then gently pull each piece of tissue apart until it looks like a flower.

Here’s a tutorial  since I forgot to take pictures of the process: http://www.firstpalette.com/Craft_themes/Nature/mexicantissuepaperflowers/mexicantissuepaperflowers.html 

We also made large tissue pom, pom flowers to hang on the porch, with some white twinkle lights. Here is the tutorial for the pom poms http://www.marthastewart.com/how-to/tissue-paper-pom-poms-how-to

So everyone could share their well wishes and memories for the birthday girl, I cut a large 60 out of cardboard and spray painted it (colored poster board would work as well)

and had bright colored post it notes and a pen so guest could write on them. I am using the post it notes and the pictures of her party to make a scrapbook for my mom.

Everyone pitched in for food and drinks, my sister-in-law made a gorgeous “sunflower” from mini cup cakes, an 8″ round cake and blackberries

60 IS NIFTY! A BIRTHDAY PARTY

There was lots of great food. One of my contributions was stuffed mushrooms

Stuffed Mushrooms:

2 pints whole mushrooms, stems removed and saved

1 T oil

1 c chopped onion

1c mushroom stems chopped

1 cup chopped spinach (I used fresh)

1 t salt

1/2 t pepper

1/4 c white wine

1 block cream cheese softened

1/4 c panko bread crumbs

1/4 c parmesan cheese grated

In a large pan heat oil and saute onion, and chopped mushroom stems until soft, add spinach and saute until wilted. add salt and pepper and white wine, bring to boil and reduce heat to low, simmer for 5 min.remove from heat.

add cream cheese, bread crumbs, parmesan cheese and cooled onion mixture to a food processor and puree.

Toss mushroom caps with olive oil and stuff with cheese mixture, bake in a preheated oven, 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes depending on size of mushrooms. Serve.

Happy Birthday Mom! and thank you to everyone who made the party a success.

Pinspired: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cake

My Pinspiration this week was a little snack cake with a familiar flavor combination, peanut butter and chocolate. I found this on Pinterest last week but the original recipe can be found here at Bake or Break. This was easy and delicious and not too sweet. Perfect for a mid morning or afternoon snack. It reminded me of the Snackin Cakes by Betty Crocker that my mom used to make back in the 70’s.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cake, from Bake or Break

2 1/4 cups of flour

2 c brown sugar

1 c creamy peanut butter

1/2 c (1 stick) of softened unsalted butter

1t baking powder

1/2 t baking soda

1 c milk

1 t  pure vanilla extract

3 eggs

1 cup Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease or spray a 9×11 pan.

In a large bowl combine flour, brown sugar, peanut butter, and butter using an electric mixer.

Remove 1 cup of the mixture and set aside. Mix in baking powder and soda, then add milk and vanilla mix until combined, and then add one egg at a time while mixing.

Pour batter into baking pan.

Sprinkle chocolate chips and reserved batter mixture on top.

Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.