Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Carnival Party

Party #4 in 4 months. I am beat! I think I'll take the month of May off. Maybe.

I'm so happy that this last party turned out so well. I threw this party for one of my nephews and one of my nieces. We had about 20 guests. The kids and adults had a great time, it was simple and fun! And an accomplishment for me was that I was finished decorating right on time, with enough time to snap some photos before the guests arrived. I was able to enjoy being at the party :) Success!


Remember this inspiration board I posted way back in February? Well a few pounds later and a lot of preparing the circus finally came to my parents studio in Mt Pleasant!

Venue: My father's photography/camera case studio. Free!

I like to work on a budget because I enjoy the challenge and to be honest, I have to. I made everything (or enlisted others) to make as much as possible, including the food tags. I tried using things that we already had laying around and looked for the best deals on candy during this holiday season and found toys coming into the summer season. Always thinking ahead.

The Goodies!






Cake & Cupcakes!


The Menu!
This is where the help came in! While I was putting the finishing touches on the goody table my sisters made homemade corn dogs, nachos, fresh popcorn, and frosted the cake and cupcakes! We also munched on peanuts which doubled as a table centerpiece, Izze drinks for the adults and soda pop with paper straws and handmade straw flags.








Just leave a bucket of crayons on a paper covered table and in a quiet moment they'll find inspiration :)


Games!
In addition to a cardboard box maze, the kids played bowling, ring toss and bean bag toss.
Bean bag toss by re purposing an inexpensive Ikea storage unit hung from a ladder. I give credit to my brother ("alex in the box") for coming up with the hanging solution.

They had to stand really close but got quite a few in!


$1 store plastic cones and unused bamboo purse handles make for an almost perfect game!


Prizes!


To save ourselves about $7 we opted out of using these darling gable boxes and gathered our used store and gift bags and re-purposed them. Do you recognize some of them? haha, just cover up that VS logo and you have a gift bag!


Redeeming their loot!


Photo Booth!
I was so grateful that one of the party guests asked if she could help out. I enlisted her in making the mustaches, freehand! I am not an illustrator so I thought she did a wonderful job!
Thank you Brooke!


Human jack in the box, "Alex in the box". The kids were both excited and terrified. I deliberately left clowns out of this party due to my own fears.

Two of my cuties.

Sources:
Cupcake liners, Cupcake Social
Straws, plastic, Hobby Lobby; paper Hey YoYo
Harp clips, Food Service Warehouse
Tickets & prizes, Zurchers
Tissue pom-poms, Martha Stewart from Michaels
Canopy tent, cups & hanging storage, Ikea
Apothecary jars, Down East Home
Wax glassine goody bags, In the Clear
Blue and green plastic tubs, gumballs, pixie stix, Dollar Tree
Plastic animals, Hobby Lobby
Cupcake stand, animal crackers and polka-dot backdrop, ie shower curtain, Target

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Poppy Seed Bread


This poppy seed bread is a favorite in our family. Every time my mother-in-law comes to visit she brings us a loaf. It's one of my husband's favorites and has quickly become one of mine too. It's so sweet, moist and just fluffy enough that it's like cake. So I tell my children it's cake and we eat it for dessert, is we can wait that long.


Poppy Seed Bread
recipe from my mother-in-law

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
3 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cup milk
1 cup + 2 Tbsp oil
1 1/2 Tbsp poppy seeds
1 1/2 tsp butter flavoring (liquid extract)
1 1/2 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Glaze:
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp butter flavoring
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup orange juice
3/4 - 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Pre-Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease and flour 3 loaf pans, or 1 large and 4 mini loaf pans

In a large bowl combine sugar and eggs with a hand mixer. Add remaining ingredients and mix.
Bake for 45 minutes or when you gently press on it it pops back up. Or a toothpick comes out clean. The small loaves will be done about 10 minutes sooner than regular loaves. Remove pans from the oven and let rest in pans for about 10 minutes. Once cooled, gently scrape sides of loaves with rubber spatula to loosen from the edges. Gently tilt pan upside down and remove loaf. Cool on cooling rack. Using a pastry brush, spread glaze on all sides of loaves. Once cooled, slice and enjoy!

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Monday, April 4, 2011

Citrus Drop cookies

I saw a cookie recipe on Our Best Bites that looked perfect for this up and coming Spring weather. They reminded me of a citrus pound cake recipe that I love but also of these simple lemon drop cookies my mom used to make when I was a child. Sadly my husband does not like these sentimental cookies but I don't like grapefruit either. And I thought the orange version could be jazzed up a bit so I decided to combine all the citrus into one so that we were all happy!

Well, let me flashback a little. I was preparing a simple white sauce to make biscuits and gravy for dinner the night before. Simple recipe, right? Well, I had started melting the 8 tablespoons butter (I was doubling it so I could freeze half of it) and I began to measure the flour. But instead of 8 tablespoons flour, I measure 4 cups! And proceeded to pour into the melted butter without even thinking! Until I dumped that last 2 cups, I finally realized, "Oh, crud! Why am I using 4 cups? I only need 8 tablespoons! Aaaahhhh." So, instead of stopping while I was ahead by throwing out the 4 cups flour and 1/2 cup butter, I decided to just multiply it by a lot more. I ended up making enough to feed gravy to 50 people. Then I decided to stop. LOL. I froze some of the gravy before I added the hamburger to it. But some of it was in a roux form still, with a lot of butter and little flour. So I experimented and tried making this mini citrus pound cake from Wilton (that I cannot find online but luckily I saved the recipe from that came with the loaf pan) that I have successfully made before. But this was another epic fail. Too much butter. lol. Still edible (though not healthy). So in two days I successfully failed at making 2 recipes I know well. Such is life of a busy minded person!

However, I did successfully adapt the two favorite recipe to make a fantastic new one. I call them--

Citrus Drop Cookies

Adapted from Our Best Bites and Allrecipes.com
Yield: 2 dozen cookies

Cookie Ingredients:
1 c. white sugar
1/2 c. butter-flavored shortening
1 egg
1/2 c. sour cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour (add another 2 tablespoons for high altitudes)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. + 2 Tbsp. thawed orange juice concentrate
1 Tbsp grated grapefruit zest
1 Tbsp grated orange zest
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tsp grated lime zest

Glaze:
2 Tbsp fresh grapefruit juice
1 Tsp fresh orange juice
1 cup powdered sugar

Frosting:
1 tsp grated grapefruit zest
1 tsp. grated orange zest
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp grated lime zest
1/4 c. thawed orange juice concentrate
1/2 c. softened butter
3 c. powdered sugar

Directions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
2. To make the cookie batter, first, combine the dry ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl bowl beat the shortening and sugar until well blended.
4. Add the egg and mix well. Then add the sour cream and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.
5. Incorporate the flour mixture.
6. Finally add the zests and orange juice concentrate and mix well. It will be a very thick and sticky batter.
7. Using an ice cream scoop (if you have one) or scoop about 1 heaping tablespoon onto a parchment lined cookie sheet.
8. Bake for about 10 minutes or until cookies are set and just golden brown around the edges.
9. Remove from oven and let sit on cookie sheet for an additional 5 minutes. Then remove from cookie sheet and allow additional cooling on a cooling rack.
10. Allow cookies to cool completely before adding glaze or frosting.

Directions for Glaze:
1. Combine zest, juice and powdered sugar in a small bowl with a small whisk. Drizzle about 1/2 tsp on top of the center of cooled cookies.

Directions for Frosting:
1. Combine all frosting ingredients with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Continue to add orange juice concentrate or sugar to desired consistency.
2. Pipe or spread over glazed cookies.

Eat chilled or at room temperature!

Enjoy!


Maybe I'll share this citrus pound cake recipe once I make it successfully again ;0


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Friday, April 1, 2011

Rice Krispie Easter nests


Now that Spring has been marked on the calendar for over a week, it finally feels like it outside, even if we did just have a snowstorm last week. I can hear the chirps of happy bird songs outside and it puts a smile on my face. A fresh start!

Here is a simple and fun idea to celebrate with your children. Rice Krispie Easter egg nests.


All you need is:

**one batch of rice krispie treats. Roll a small handful sized amount into a ball. Then smoosh down the center as your shape the sides, like a nest.

Fill with--
**green dyed coconut flakes (I put a few drops of food coloring in some corn syrup to make it stick a little better to each other)

Then fill with--
**Candy eggs like jelly beans or m&m's

And top with--
**Peeps birds

And place in--
**cupcake liners, optional

And lay on top of--
**Pretzel sticks, to lay underneath like sticks (not pictured because my husband ate them all! In his defense, he didn't know there was a planned photo shoot. geeze.)


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