Saturday, November 27, 2010

Farm Birthday Party

My adorable nephew celebrated his second birthday this weekend. The party was held at Zoomar's Petting Zoo in San Juan Capistrano. For those of you in the SoCal area, this is such a wonderful resource for hosting a kid's party or just taking the little ones for a visit to see the animals. The train even stops right across the street! My sister-in-law did an awesome job with all the details, and the kids had a blast. There were pony rides, train rides, they fed the bunnies and goats carrots, and played on the playground. By the time we got in the car everyone was fast asleep. Happy birthday precious Aaron!

The craft table and gift bags. The kids created their own farm scene.

Everyone got a cowboy hat and scarf, along with tokens for pony rides and the petting zoo!

Vintage Coca Cola cooler.

Roasting marshmallows by the fire.

How cute are these Toy Story pumpkins?

I baked a few chocolate cupcakes in red and blue gingham wrappers with fondant farm animal toppers.

My favorite was the piggy.

My sister-in-law requested some sugar cookies so I came up with this assorted farm animal cookie plate with a barn, pigs, chicks, ducks, cows, farm dogs and sheep.

Happy birthday big boy. We love you!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Daring Bakers Challenge: Doughnuts

Each month the Daring Bakers presents a baking challenge to its members in an attempt to stretch their culinary horizons -- previous challenges have included attempts at Baked Alaska, cheesecake pops and sugar cookies, to name a few. The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.

For this month's task, I chose the yeast dough recipe from Alton Brown. I faced a few challenges off the bat, not the least of which was being out of town without my trusty Kitchen Aid mixer and supplies. But the process was easier than I thought, despite doing everything by hand. The end product was a sort of rustic, hybrid beignet -- this one tossed with granulated sugar instead of powdered sugar -- and cut roughly into squares with a knife. They were light, airy and addicting, and tomorrow's batch will be enjoyed with a cup of homemade hot cocoa (recipe to come!). I recommend giving it a try.

A sticky mess!

I was missing my mixer right about here!

This thing balloons to almost triple the size after about an hour.

Let em rest for 30 minutes then fry. I only used about a fourth of the dough. It's enough to feed an army.


Monday, September 6, 2010

Hot Air Balloon Baby Shower

This is one of the cutest themes ever! I loved working with two of my darling friends to help plan a "flying high" hot air balloon themed baby shower. These two gals are super talented and created so many delightful touches using a teal, brown and green color palate. From the gourmet tea sandwiches and iced coffee set up to the bunting and hot air balloon centerpieces (inspired by this post on Hip Hip Hooray), the event was beyond adorable. This is the perfect theme for a baby shower because it lends itself to both genders and so many great details.

I had such a blast doing the dessert table, with goodies like cloud and hot air balloon sugar cookies, strawberry shortcake shots, crispy treats, triple chocolate crunch cupcakes, espresso cupcakes and cheesecakes.

My photos don't do the party justice, but here's a little taste of this sweet event.

Cotton candy with cloud labels were used as party favors.

These "It's a Boy" flags can be downloaded at Prudent Baby!

The mommy to be and sis -- aren't they gorgeous?

Brown and Blue Cake With Dessert Table

Just finished this first birthday party for a friend's adorable baby boy. We went with a clean and sweet chocolate brown and blue design for the three-tier cake. I covered it in fondant and added coordinating polka dot ribbon at the base. They also requested a sampling of mini desserts including apple pies, lemon dream bites, chocolate chip cookies, salted brown butter crispy treats (my new favorite recipe thanks to Smitten Kitchen) and vanilla bean cupcakes. The event was held at a park in Simi Valley and so the desserts had to stand up to some serious heat. All in all, this was the perfect selection for an outdoor summer party.

Here are some of the mini desserts. The pies came out really cute and the lemon bars were a success (my first time making them!).

I love the little ribbon flag detail on these crispy treats.

Hungry little hands got to one of the cookies before I could get a shot!

One more shot of the cake and birthday boy up close.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Summer Bridal Shower

This fun bridal shower used bright pops of color. This was my first dessert table. It was a good experience to see what worked and what I needed to rethink. Mini desserts are a lot of work, since you are essentially making five to six individual recipes each with several components. But guests love the idea of being able to sample a little of everything and it creates a focal point for the party. This setup included chocolate dipped cheesecake pops, tiramisu shots, coconut cream cheese cupcakes, triple chocolate crunch cupcakes, peanut butter pies and monogrammed sugar cookies.