Monday, February 25, 2013

1 more month... {Party Planning}

Today my little guy is 11 months old! I can't believe he will be ONE year old on March 25th. This has been the fastest, most tiring, but truly amazing year of my life and I can't wait to celebrate little Sam's first birthday next month. As you already know from last month, the party plans for Sam's first birthday are well underway. The theme has been decided...Mustache & Tie. Colors have been picked, and decorations are being bought little by little to "tie" everything together into one hopefully super cute little man party!

I promised I would share some pictures along the way as things come together and I'm excited to share the behind the scenes photo shoot for Sam's birthday invitations! These photos were taken in his nursery I just moved the crib out of the way so I'd have a large wall to photograph against.

I saw this birthday party invite on I Heart Naptime and immediately wanted to use the same chalkboard idea for Sam's invitations. We had an old frame from our attic that we painted aqua and turned into a chalkboard frame with chalkboard spraypaint. I plan to use this chalkboard the day of his party as well for the dessert table. My original plan was to photograph the chalkboard, balloons, the cupcake and Sam in the same photo for the invite. But after a few trial shots, I quickly realized the cupcake was not going to make an appearance in the same photos as Sam b/c well he is a wild child that is on the go. As soon as we sat him down he was on the move crawling left and right and straight towards me while I was trying to take the pictures. So basically 50 shots later I wound up with pretty much the few decent photos you see here.

I love this photo I caught of him on the move! He has the sweetest blue eyes and little mouth!

So to replace the cupcake idea, I quickly improvised and added a mustache to a popsicle stick to give Sam something to hold on to so he would sit still for a few seconds so I could snap some shots. But that quickly turned into pulling the mustache and stick apart and trying to eat them both and laughing about it.

How cute is that little face! This was the winning shot of the day! And you can even see his little tie onesie I ordered from Chic Couture Boutique on etsy.

Sam's invitations are going in the mail this week! I will be sure to show you at least one or two more sneak peaks of the behind the scenes party planning in the coming weeks!

Stay tuned for Sam's girlfriend, Cora's 1st Birthday party I helped with a few weeks ago! It's lots of pink and green and polka dot fun!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Happy Birthday To Me!

I'd like to introduce you to my birthday cake! It's pretty fun don't you think? Definitely one of the most colorful and sprinkled cakes I have ever baked or indulged in. Oh and yes it was absolutely delicious too! I have been DYING to make my own version of this Pastel Swirl Cake ever since I saw it on Sweetapolita's blog a while back. If you have never visited Sweetapolita's blog, you sure have been missing out. Rosie makes the most decadent, delicious, unique, and most beautiful cakes that look like pure pieces of art! She is one talented lady and I am in awe every time I look at her latest cake creations! I wish I could spend a day in her kitchen and learn some of her techniques and be her taste tester!
 I have baked several of her cake recipes and they never disappoint! I have been anxiously awaiting the perfect time to try her Pastel Swirl Cake and figured I would give it a go for my birthday cake this year! I loved the three colors Rosie picked when she did her swirl cake, but I wanted to create a cake that was completely different so I decided to go with pink (since my birthday is the day after Valentine's day), purple because it's one of my favorites and then a teal green...well because as you can see from my blog I kinda have a thing for teal! And as far as I'm concerned every cake tastes better with sprinkles, so I loaded up the top with some Valentine jimmies, pink nonpareils and some pale pink sugar pearls!

Lucky for me and you, Rosie made a video tutorial (and yes I have watched it several times) of this very cake on her blog so you can learn just how to blend the colors to make the perfect pastel swirl cake! I decided to use the same Chocolate Cake Recipe and Whipped Vanilla Frosting recipe that Rosie used but just made a 6" cake instead of 8". This is seriously one of the best cakes I have ever tasted in my life and I've already had 2 slices today!

And then I got out my camera and snapped about a million pictures of my colorful cake because it just made me so happy!

Happy Birthday to me and thank you Sweetapolita for making my birthday so sweet with this beautiful cake idea! You truly are an inspiration!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Heart Rice Krispies Treats

If you are in need of a last minute Valentine treat for your kids to take to school, look no further! Who doesn't love a good old fashioned Rice Krispies Treat! A no bake recipe that really can't get much simpler, and I'm sure you all have a bag of marshmallows on hand, right? So whip up a batch of  these crispy marshmallow treats, add a few Valentine's sprinkles and cut out some hearts! What a sweet treat for all the kids.

Oh Valentine's sprinkles, how I do love you!

Cut out hearts alternating the shape upside down and right side up to maximize the number you get from the pan.

Look at all those yummy scraps that will be left over for munching on after you cut out the hearts!

Package in a plastic bag and tie with a cute ribbon and you've got a super sweet Valentine treat!

Rice Krispies Treats
(makes 18 hearts)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 (16 oz) bag mini marshmallows
9 cups Rice Krispies Cereal
Valentine's Sprinkles

1. Prepare large cookie sheet with parchment paper and grease with butter.
2. Melt butter and marshmallows in large pot over medium heat on the store. Stir occasionally until marshmallows are completely melted.
3. Pour Rice Krispies into pot and stir into marshmallow mixture.
4. Spread Rice Krispies onto prepared cookie sheet and flatten with spatula.
5. Decorate with Valentine's Sprinkles.
6. Allow Rice Krispies Treats to set up for about an hour.
7. Cut out heart shapes.
8. Package in plastic bags and tie with ribbon.

Happy Heart's Day!


Monday, February 11, 2013

Champagne & Raspberry Cupcakes

It's Valentine's Week, do you know what you are getting your sweetie this year? With only a few days left, there's still time to bake to impress! I've got the perfect treat that's sweet and pink. It features a bottle of bubbly and some fresh raspberries! So forget that box of chocolates or dozen roses this year, put on your apron and whip up a batch of these Champagne & Raspberry Cupcakes.

The recipe and all the details are featured over on Half Baked! I used Korbel Sweet Rose Champagne which paired well with the fresh raspberries. I hope you all enjoy these cupcakes and share them with the ones you love.

Wishing you all a sweet week!


Friday, February 8, 2013

Mardi Gras - King Cake Cupcakes

It's time to wrap up Mardi Gras week with a super simple and amazingly delicious recipe. King Cake Cupcakes! Our grocery stores have been stocked with king cakes for weeks now and I am always browsing to see which one has the most sprinkles. I've eaten my share of two king cakes so far this year and have resisted the temptation for many more on numerous trips to the grocery. The King Cake is my absolute favorite part about Mardi Gras! They come filled with all sorts of flavors and fruits, but my favorite is the cinnamon filling. So when I was flipping through the Jan/Feb issue of my Cooking with Paula Deen magazine and came across these King Cake Cupcakes this was quickly moved to the top of my baking list for February!

I have made a king cake from scratch before although it's been a few years, which I'm sure you can tell from the photo quality. But when you are given the opportunity to take a few shortcuts and come out with equally impressive results by using crescent rolls, well that's the path I chose to take this year! Thanks Paula for the fabulous idea!

So grab 3 tubes of Crescent Rolls and all the yummy stuff for your filling...cinnamon, brown sugar and pecans.

Unroll 1 tube of crescent rolls at a time and form them into 4 rectangles.

Spread your filling down the center of each rectangle, leaving a small border around the edges.

Sugar and nuts...

Fold the top of the rectangle towards the center, then fold the bottom of the rectangle towards the center.

Fold the left side to the middle. Fold the right side on top of the left side.

Place the dough, spiral side up into cupcake liner and bake.

Prepare vanilla glaze and grab the sprinkles. It's time to decorate!

King Cake Cupcakes (recipe adapted from Paula Deen)
(makes 12)

3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 (8 oz) cans refrigerated crescent rolls
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 Tbsp milk
green, purple & yellow sprinkles

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners.
2. In small bowl, combine brown sugar, cinnamon and pecans.
3. On lightly floured surface, unroll each can of crescent rolls and separate each into 4 rectangles. Press perforations to seal.
4. Sprinkle about 2 Tbsp brown sugar mixture down center of each rectangle. leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edges.
5. Working with 1 rectangle at a time fold the top of the dough towards the center, then fold the bottom of the dough toward the center and overlap.
6. Fold the left side of the dough in to the middle. Fold the right side on top of the left side.
7. Place dough spiral side up into prepared muffin pan.
8. Repeat procedure with remaining rectangles.
9. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until brown.
10. In a small bowl, whisk confectioners' sugar, and milk until smooth. Drizzle over warm cakes while in pan.
11. Sprinkle with green, purple & yellow sugars.

You really need to give this recipe a try! You will wow all your friends with how amazing these mini king cakes look and taste! I think I'm going to have to keep crescent rolls on hand at all times just in case I need a King Cake fix throughout the year!

Happy Mardi Gras!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Mardi Gras - Mask Cookies

I'm back again with another fun way to celebrate Mardi Gras...mask cookies! You may remember I made some mask cookies a few years ago. Back then I didn't have a mask cookie cutter so I found clip art online and hand traced all my cookies...boy was that a lot of work! This year since I'm planning Sam's 1st birthday and mustaches & ties are the theme I just so happen to have a mask cookie cutter because, well the mustache flipped around makes a mask! It's two for one, gotta love that!

So whip up a batch of masks using your favorite sugar cookie & royal icing recipes. This is my go to recipe! Tint your royal icing green, yellow and purple.

Then pipe the outline of the masks and the shapes of the eyes.

Then grab some sprinkles and get ready to decorate!

Flood your cookies. I always work in groups of 6 cookies at a time when flooding. So after you flood 6 stop and add the sprinkles! Then flood 6 more, sprinkle, and repeat until your are done with all your cookies.

Time for sprinkles, give a generous coating! This is one of my favorite and quickest ways to decorate cookies. You can hide any flaws from your flooding and you don't have to wait for the flooding to dry before you pipe on decorations! And as an extra bonus I love the crunch you get when you bite into a sprinkle covered cookie!

Tip: Allow your flooded & sprinkled cookies to dry for several hours. Then tip the cookie sideways and allow the extra sprinkles to fall off. Any sprinkles that get stuck inside the mask eye holes you can easily remove by gently scraping a toothpick in between.

Look at how they sparkle! I packaged these up this weekend and delivered to some of our friends with kids! They absolutely went crazy over them! I've got one more Mardi Gras recipe coming up on Friday! I've saved the best and yummiest for last so you won't want to miss it! Any guesses what it could be?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Mardi Gras - Push-Up Pops

Mardi Gras is in full swing here in Mobile. Everywhere you look you see purple, green and yellow. Every weekend there are parades all day long with stuffed animals, cups, moon pies and beads a flying! This week I thought it would be fun to share a few easy and festive Mardi Gras treats with you all!

The first up is the Push-Up Pops. You may have seen or even own this book written by Courtney Whitmore of the popular entertaining blog Pizzazzerie. Unfortunately I do not have this book, but I have thumbed through it a time or two while at Michael's. This book is super cute with lots of fun ideas and recipes for making Push-Up Pops. It's also on Amazon's top 100 list...pretty amazing!

I bought my push-up pop containers from Cake Art Party Store back in the fall but they are also available online. So this weekend I figured it was about time to bring out the pops and see what I could come up with! I decided a trio of green, purple and yellow was appropriate for Mardi Gras. So I whipped up a 3 layer white box cake mix and tinted each layer green, purple and yellow. Once the cakes were cool I took the push-up pop container and cut circles into each layer.

Vibrant circles of cake ready to assemble.

Once all cake circles were cut out, I placed the green cake in the bottom of the push-up pop first. Then the yellow cake and then purple until the pop was full.

Such a cute, fun and quick idea!

Swirl with a dollop of buttercream icing and add a few sprinkles!

It's the perfect Mardi  Gras treat! I shared a few with our neighbors and they loved them!

Check back soon, I've got 2 more Mardi Gras ideas you don't want to miss!

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