Sunday, July 12, 2015

Back to School party 2014

Monday, December 3, 2012

Southwest Chickpea and Corn Salad

It's been nearly a year since my last post so this boring recipe post doesn't quite seem fitting as the inaugural post.  Oh well, I mainly just want to just this down for my future reference.  I'm selfish that way.

I got this great corn salad recipe from my boot camp instructor and adapted it heavily for a satisfying vegetarian meal.  So here is my southwest chickpea and corn salad recipe:

1 packet taco seasoning of your choice
1 T soy sauce
2 T water
2 t lime juice
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

Preheat oven to 400.  Combine taco seasoning, soy sauce, water and lime juice.  Stir in chickpeas until fully coated and allow to marinate for at least an hour.  Strain chickpeas to get rid of the excess marinade.  Line a baking sheet with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray.  Pour chickpeas onto baking sheet and spread into an even layer.  Spray chickpeas lightly with cooking spray and then bake at 400 for 20 minutes.  The outside will be crunchy and insides should be satisfyingly chewy.

I made these chickpeas a day ahead.  They are great in wraps and tacos too!  They won't be crunchy the next day but still very tasty in this salad.

2 c frozen or fresh corn
1 poblano pepper, cut into 1/4" pieces
1 sweet potato, cut into 1/4" pieces
1 T olive oil
Romaine lettuce

Preheat oven to 450.  Combine the corn, pepper and sweet potato in a 9x13 baking dish and toss in oil to coat.  Bake at 450 for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.  The sweet potato should be soft and the corn and pepper should be slightly charred.

Allow the corn mixture to cool slightly.  Put a handful of romaine on a plate, top with chickpeas and corn mixture then chopped avocado and tomatoes to taste.

It was quite a satisfying salad that required no dressing at all!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Hungry Caterpillar Birthday Party

Phew, let me just start by saying that hosting birthday parties on back-to-back Saturdays is a lot of work!  Even though I kept Calla's 1st birthday party much more low key, it almost seemed like I was rushing around more in the days leading up to it.  But it was all worth it in my opinion.  I remember some great parties growing up and want to create the same memories for my kids.  (I realize Calla won't remember her 1st birthday but I will.)

Without any further ado, here are the highlights of the meal and decorations.  First, the invitation:

Completely copied from multiple sites and super easy to make with a printer, mini hole punch, mini brads and circle punch.

I also made a caterpillar mobile from lanterns using these instructions:

And a pair of caterpillars using photos from her first year (1 from each month):

(Those are just construction paper dots using my circle punch to add a little more color to the multiple tables we used.)

I made hats using the same tutorial as I did with Ian's party and punched out some stickers to doctor up plain white cups.

I didn't get pictures of the cake (gasp) or the food with the exception of the fruit.  I used the fruit from the caterpillar's Mon-Fri diet as part of the menu with these free printables.  I also made an quick orzo salad and cut up some pinwheel sandwiches using spinach wraps and shaped them into a caterpillar with a tomato head.

I made a caterpillar cake inspired by this design.  I still need working on wrapping fondant over round cakes but I really prefer buttercream anyway.  But it turned out pretty well despite my novice efforts.

And I made a birthday plate for Calla just like her big brother's.  We plan to use it each year (as long as she's willing).

Finally, I made these butterflies as favors for the kids but I totally forgot to hand them out!  They're Skittles and Trix cereal.  Not sure what to do with all these treats now...

So now I have a whole year to recover before the birthday rush begins again.  I can't wait!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Fishing Birthday Party

Today we had Ian's 4th birthday party with his friends from school.  Since he likes to go fishing with his daddy, we decided to go with a fishing theme.  I had fun making lots of crafty things for his party over the last month or so and thought I would record them here for future reference.  Overall, it was a fun party and our birthday boy completely crashed afterward!  (Always the sign of a good party.)

First up, the decorations:

The invitations and decor were inspired by the fish on a cake I saw on flikr.  From there, I made a simple fish and used it on everything from the cups to the hats to the favors to the invitations.

Balloon wreath using this tutorial but almost triple the number of balloons and an 18" wreath form.  We'll be using this for many birthdays in the future!

An ocean ceiling

Our favorite felt birthday banner and buckets for each guest.

I made a jello fish bowl for the centerpiece with a fishing net and a few fishing toys we had around the house.

We use this special plate every year for his birthday and you can see the cups and hats I made.

Next, the activities:

We had each guest decorate a foam fish with foam shape stickers when they arrived.  Then they had to take a test to earn their fishing license before fishing with magnetic poles I made.

They also got to take some swings at a fish pinata, also homemade.  It was my first attempt at a pinata and it wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be.  But it was sturdy so in the end I cut it open to spill the candy.

Finally, the cake!
The birthday boy in his 4 fish shirt I made with his fishing cake.

The guests went home with their fish, fishing pole, pinata loot, buckets and these little favors for their next fishing trip:

Wow, when I write it all out, that's a lot of crafting!  But since I've been working on it bit by bit over the holidays, it wasn't overwhelming.  And next week we have yet another birthday for Calla.  Her party will be much more low key but I still made a few fun decorations.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Chocolate cupcake with salted caramel buttercream

Yet another cupcake recipe to share (and for me to record for future use).  I adapted several different recipes into one decadent cupcake.   Just take a look...

This little beauty is a chocolate cupcake with caramel filling, salted caramel buttercream topped with a caramel drizzle and milk chocolate toffee bits.  Pretty much all of my favorite things wrapped up in one little treat.  Though the cupcake recipe makes 24 cakes, the frosting only covered 12.  So I made another batch of frosting but substituted 1/2 cup of fresh strawberry puree for the caramel and omitted the salt.  Fresh strawberry buttercream is definitely a winner too.  A bit lighter than its caramel cousin if that's possible considering the butter and sugar involved. 

I have no destination other than my belly in mind for these 2 dozen cupcakes.  Yikes!  Unless anyone wants to drop by for cupcakes tomorrow, my co-workers will get to polish these off on Tuesday.  If only I loved working out as much as I love baking.  *sigh*

Perfectly Chocolate Cupcakes
(makes 24-27 standard sized cupcakes)
From Glorious Treats

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (best quality available)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (best quality available)
1 cup boiling water

Caramel Filling
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup caramel topping

Salted Caramel Frosting
Adapted from The Novice Chef

2 sticks unsalted butter; room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup caramel topping; plus more for drizzling
3/4 teaspoon fleur de sel
1 pound confectioners’ sugar


Line muffin tin with paper liners. Heat oven to 350*F.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Beat on medium speed for two minutes.  Stir in boiling water (the batter will be thin).

Fill liners 2/3 full with batter.  Bake cupcakes for approximately 22-24 minutes.  Cool completely on wire rack before frosting.

Stir sweetened condensed milk and caramel topping to make the filling.  Scoop out a hole in the cupcake and spoon in the filling.  Replace the scooped out portion of the cake.

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter.  Add vanilla, caramel topping and fleur de sel and mix until well combined.   Add confectioners' sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.

Pipe icing onto cupcake, drizzle with caramel topping and sprinkle with Heath milk chocolate toffee bits (found in the baking aisle).  Or sprinkle with chopped Snickers bars.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ladybug birthday cupcakes

Our dear friends moved on Saturday and were brave enough to host a birthday party for their 4 year old on Sunday at their new home.  Impressive!  So I volunteered to make cupcakes for the birthday girl.  She requested ladybugs and I was happy to oblige.  I made perfectly chocolate cupcakes with my favorite vanilla buttercream grass and fondant ladybugs, funfetti cupcakes with vanilla buttercream and another fondant ladybug and fresh strawberry cupcakes with strawberry buttercream and m&m ladybugs.  I only sampled the strawberry which was good but perhaps a little dry.  Since I have said the same thing about other recipes, I should probably adjust my baking times.  The hubby tried the funfetti and gave his usual "it was fine" response.  Not much to go on there.  Oh well, just an excuse to try both the chocolate and funfetti recipes again!  Overall I was very happy with the decorations.  And I even made an extra batch of grass and roses for my sister's family to celebrate their move to the beautiful Pacific Northwest.  Win-win! 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Candy Bar Cake recipe

For the anonymous commenter on my birthday post, here is the recipe for the Candy Bar Cake.  It's definitely my favorite!  But based on the size of my "Goodies" board on Pinterest, I have many new favorites waiting to be tried.

Candy Bar Cake
Liberally adapted from

1 package devil's food cake mix
1 1/2 cups milk
3 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 small package instant vanilla pudding mix

1 1/2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
1 (12 oz) container Cool Whip, thawed
7 Heath bars, coarsely chopped (substitute any candy bar you'd like)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Prepare 3 8-inch cake pans (my sister introduced me to Baking Pam and I haven't looked back.  It's flour and oil in one quick spray!).

Combine cake ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Beat on low speed until combined.  Beat 4 minutes on medium speed.  Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Turn out cakes from pans and allow to cool completely.

For the filling, beat cream cheese, sugar and confectioner's sugar until smooth.  Fold in Cool Whip and candy bar pieces.  Spread between cake layers and on outside.  I then added a layer of chocolate buttercream to the outside for a cleaner finished look.  And because chocolate is fantastic.

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