Celebrating 7!

This weekend, we celebrated my eldest daughter turning seven. It seems like only yesterday that I found out I was pregnant with her and all of a sudden she’s turning 7! Where did the time go?

When asked how she would like to celebrate, she said she wanted a small party with just seven friends. She also said she wanted to paint and have a pinata. And she wanted purple. And no theme. Okaaaaaay…… I was seriously stumped here. So I kind of let the thoughts on the party percolate for a bit, asking for a little more detail each day. She said she definitely did not want a theme. So when I asked about the pinata, she finally told me she wanted an emoji. Great! Now we were getting somewhere!

As for the painting, no emojis for that. Okaaaaaay….. So finally I was able to get from her that she wanted a puppy. Great! More direction!

Finally, the cake. Purple. No theme. Not a dog, not an emoji. Okaaaaaay…… Hello Pinterest, can you please solve this for me? After looking at photos of many purple cakes, I finally landed on an ombre rosette cake using purple (instead of the pink I was seeing everywhere.). I showed the boss and we had a winner!

While the elements of the party weren’t in the same family by any means, it was still enough to feel cohesive and fun. I think I did a pretty good job of pulling this one together. What do you think?

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Wicked-ly Delicious

 

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Things have been so busy that I have found myself seriously neglecting my blog.  Not to say that I haven’t still be making things, but I haven’t had time to share all the lovely things I’ve been doing with my girls.

Well, this coming week is Halloween!  I can’t say that I am an avid participator in the holiday, but being a class mom and having two small girls who love dressing up, I find myself getting sucked in.  While both my daughters are having Halloween parties at school, I volunteered to bring the cupcakes for my youngest since I will be missing her parade to be at the eldest’s class party.

I wanted to be sure to make something that was a little more  thoughtful than the regular store-bought cupcakes (seeing as how there is no specialty cupcake store in my area that I know of).  I scoured websites and Pinterest for a simple yet fun Halloween cupcake and found this.  I had to slightly modify it based on the ingredients that I was able to find, but I think that they ended up really cute.

I know that both my daughters were very excited to help make the witches hats (especially the unwrapping of the kisses, and then making sure that they were still good… haha!)  These were relatively simple to make, and I took a little shortcut, buying a boxed cake mix since I was a little pinched for time.  Below is the quick and dirty on how I made them:

Witches Hats:

1 bag of Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Kisses

1 package Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers

1 recipe buttercream frosting

Hat Assembly: Unwrap the kisses.  Place buttercream frosting using a very small tip to ice the bottom and place it in the center of a wafer, pressing down firmly.  Pipe a ring around the bottom of the kiss to the wafer and finish with a bow.  Set aside.

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1 box Devil’s Food Cake (makes 24 cupcakes)

Cupcake Assembly: Using a large round tip, pipe the frosting onto the cupcake starting at the outer edge and then spiraling inwards.  Sprinkle the sprinkles of your choice around the sides of the frosting and place one of the witches hats on the top of the frosting.  I kinked them a little so that you could see the frosting with the sprinkles peeking out from under the hat as a little teaser.

I ended up making the frosting green and having the girls sprinkle purple and orange sprinkles on the cupcakes before adorning each with a hat.  I think that these turned out really cute and they were really quick and easy to make with the kids help.  Hopefully all of my daughters friends will have as much fun eating them as she did in making them!  Happy Halloween everyone!

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A 3rd Birthday for Baby

I guess I shouldnt call her a baby anymore as she just turned three, but I can’t help it! I still see remnants of her baby fat and chubby cheeks and yet she’s old enough to ask for a Belle-themed birthday party!  It’s bittersweet for sure.

I figured since this was her first real birthday party, we could have some of her close friends over and have a small, intimate party.  The challenge with daycare and commuting is that my schedule never overlaps other parents so while my daughter talks about her friends, I never have occasion to have my path cross with any of her friends parents.  Birthday parties are really a good way to remedy that.

I don’t know where my daughter got an idea for a Belle birthday party, but she wanted it.  I’m not a big fan of character parties so I was trying to think of the best way to accomplish this theme without having Disney paraphernalia everywhere.  I settled on a subtle Belle theme using yellow, gold and white with cupcakes alluding to the movie.

I found this cute cupcake idea on pinterst.  Unfortunately, the Wilton roses that were recommended for this cupcake had reviews that all agreed they tasted terrible.  I was talking to my mom on the phone about this one day and she decided she wanted to make icing roses for the cupcakes and FedEx then to me! Amazing!  I made a simple lemon cupcake recipe with a the buttercream frosting I have blogged about before.

For decorations, I stuck to a simple color scheme of white and gold throughout.  I think it turned out very nice and the kids had a great time!  In my next post I’ll talk about the craft all the kiddies got to make.  Until then, a very happy birthday to my littlest munchkin!

Scone Trial

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My previous post touched on my breakfast ritual with my daughters.  Luckily, one of the coffee shops in town brings a taste of the city to its patrons, having pastries from Balthazar’s delivered to their shop on a daily basis.  A particular favorite of mine is the cranberry scone.  These are the perfect combination of buttery, slightly sweet from the cranberry and sprinkle of sugar crystals on top, and surprisingly, there is no orange zest as you typically find with any baked good containing cranberries.

Well, I wasn’t lucky enough to find the recipe for these online, so I turned to the Ina Garten as a base recipe to start from.  One good thing about making these, I finally used my stand mixer, that has been sitting on my counter accumulating dust for years.  This wonderful piece of machinery made everything incredibly easy.  My daughters were fascinated with seeing the stand mixer work as well as how easy it was to operate.

While this recipe was good, it wasn’t of the same quality of Balthazar’s.  I think that in order to get there, it needs more butter, just a small twist of sugar, and I did omit the orange zest as well.  I did love that the egg wash with the sugar crystals really made these scones look amazingly delicious.  My youngest daughter ate a whole scone for herself once these came out of the oven.  It was quite amazing because they were each almost the size of her face!  While not what I was aiming for, they were still quite delicious!

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Bakery Blues

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One of my main sorrows in leaving the city is the lack of a good sit-down bakery to enjoy delicious baked goods for breakfast (I’m not talking about cupcakes).  Ever since our first daughter was born, we made a ritual of going out to breakfast on the week-ends.  I would bring my daughter to one of the various coffee/ bakery shops around us and we would enjoy some quality mommy-daughter time.  It was always such a pleasant way to begin the week-end.  In moving to the suburbs, I had a hard time finding the perfect breakfast spot that had the ambiance and the the quality of baked goods.  One of our favorite places to frequent in Brooklyn was a wonderful little bakery called Blue Sky Bakery.  They make the most delicious muffins.  All of them are fresh-made daily and incorporate seasonal ingredients, such as fresh pumpkin or apple in the fall, peaches in the summer, and so on.  On any given day, they have at least 10 varieties to choose from.  My daughter loved to eat all of the fruit out of my muffins and we thoroughly enjoyed the varieties offered each day.

I wondered if I could find the recipe for these muffins, as the shop only had two base recipes, one bran and one non-bran, with different fruit mixtures for variety.  I was in luck and thank you Google for helping me find it!  These are seriously the best bran muffins I have had and I was so excited to find the recipe out there.  I found out that it was published in a cookbook “Table of Contents“.  You can use any combination of fruit in these muffins and they are always amazing.  I made these as my two year old sat on the kitchen counter watching me create these wonders and when they were done, she dug in, eating all the fruit out of the center, just like her sister used to do.  It’s like they’re related!  You should try these muffins out.  Not too sweet, very easy and fast, extremely delicious!

Blue Sky Bakery Bran Muffin (makes 2 dozen)

  • 2 and 2/3 c buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 c vegetable oil
  • 3 c. wheat bran
  • 2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp baking soda
  • 1/2 c. dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cup fruit (I used raspberries and peaches)

Preheat oven to 425 and coat muffin tin with butter or cooking spray.

Mix buttermilk, eggs and oil in a medium bowl.

In seperate bowl combine wheat bran, flour, baking powder, baking soda, brown sugar and salt.

Pour wet mixture into dry one and mix until just combined.

Place about 2 tbsp of batter in each muffin tin (the batter will expand to fill about 1/2 the cup).  Place a generous layer of fruit  (about 2 heaping teaspoons) into each cup.  Measure 2 tsp of the sugar in a small bowl, taking pinches with your fingers, sprinkle the sugar over the fruit.  Divide remaining batter evenly among the muffin cups.  Place remaining 2 tspn of sugar into bowl and pinch and sprinkle the sugar over the top!

Bake for 5 minutes.  Rotate muffin tins front to bake to ensure even cooking and bake for another 11-13 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs sticking to it.  Do NOT overbake.

Cook on wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove muffins from tin.

 

Holiday Cheer to Share

It’s the most wonderful time of the year again!  I love the holidays and the festive nature.  Seeing all the decorations, hearing the wood crackle as you build a fire, smelling the aromas of cinnamon and gingerbread, these are all things I associate with the holidays.  I can’t believe the year has flown by so quickly and we are here once again!

This year I (finally) started thinking of holiday gifts far enough in advance to plan for something other than a gift card for my children’s teachers.  I trolled ideas on pinterest and thought of what gifts both my girls could help make.  I settled on homemade hot chocoate mix with individualized marshmallows.  I saw a pin of marshmallows decorated using food coloring pens that I thought would be fun for the girls to make. 

I ordered some small metal tins on Amazon,  found some circular holiday stickers for the lids,  and used a 2.5″ circular punch to make an instructon label to fix to the back. This is the result. 

The girls had a great time decorating the marshmallows and helping me make the cocoa mix.  I ended up pre-mixing sugar with Ghiradelli cocoa powder and then packaging them into the tins, with the help of my eldest.  I got small 4″ clear cookie bags for the marshallows and found a great 6″ striped holiday cookie bag for the overall package.  I hope the teachers and care providers like these handmade gifts!

What are you making for the holidays?

The Second is 2!

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So it’s happened.  My baby turned two.  When did this happen?  I can hardly believe that time has flown so quickly!  I don’t know if it’s because I’m so tired these days or if life is just too full of things to do, but having to even consider planning a birthday party for my daughter seemed beyond me at this point.  Planning playdates for two children seems to so difficult and this seems to be one of my shortcoming as a parent.  I look for the easy playdate where friends have more than one kid so that all the children can keep each other occupied.  Is that terrible of me?  Don’t lie, I’m sure I’m not the only one!

I am glad to say that my second daughter is quite gregarious and will run around to almost everyone after she has acclimated and flirt outrageously with them.  For this I am very grateful that she finds her happiness instead of having to have someone define it for her.

Well, I may not have planned a big party for her, but I did get my act together enough to make her cupcakes to bring to school as well as have a small gathering with family to celebrate.  For her cupcakes, I opted to make a lemon cupcake with a lemon buttercream frosting.  I have made these before for my first daughter’s first birthday, noted here.  However, instead of mini-cupcakes, I opted for large ones.  The recipe will make about 16 large cupcakes.  I used the buttercream frosting here and added half a lemon with half a lemon’s zest.  It turned out quite nice, if I do say so myself!  I also opted to use a pre-made candy flower by Wilton’s, which I got from Michael’s.

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When my eldest daughter learned that I was going to be making cupcakes she insisted on helping.  It was quite hilarious how she helped me with the icing.  For every cupcake iced and flower she placed, she would then help herself to a small taste of icing.  And with each taste, she would exclaim “I love helping you make cupcakes mommy!  Mmmm!!!”  What a comedian!  Although, I must say, she was surprisingly exact in measuring the perfect amount of batter needed for cupcakes.  I may have to employ her services in the future.  Haha!

Anyways, the cupcakes were quite delicious and my youngest daughter was quite enthusiastic about the blowing out of the candles.  She actually blew the candle out too quickly the first time, requiring us to re-light them before we finished singing happy birthday.  And, she was singing happy birthday to herself for about 3 weeks straight. What a great age this is, toddlers are like little comedians!  Happy birthday my wonderful, funny, intelligent and daring girl!