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Archive for February, 2012

When I joined Pinterest a couple weeks ago, I was thrilled to discover thousands of wonderful recipes and decorating ideas…  Then I realized my opportunities to make all those wonderful ideas into a reality are limited.  After all, I can’t exactly make a batch of homemade snickers just for me and DH!  Well, I suppose I could, but I really shouldn’t.  But the Oscars were yesterday and I decided this was my chance! 

For the last few years, we have hosted an Oscar party.  The first year, we held it at our house, but co-hosted with some friends.  We did a pasta bar with a couple different types of sauce and toppings.  It was great, but simple.  Last year, we got creative with our menu and named everything after movies and actors.  I made these fun name cards to go with each dish.  Everyone got a real kick out of this last year, so I knew I had to do something special for this year’s party, too.

I didn’t want to re-do the same thing.  And I had a ton of Pinterest recipes I wanted to tryout.  A friend of mine suggested doing a red carpet theme where we ask everyone to dress up in formal attire.  I like that idea in theory, but I didn’t want to put anyone out over a Sunday afternoon party.  But, I did use that idea as the jumping off point.  I decided to go with a classic, good old fashioned, “Movie Night.”  For the food, I went for a gourmet/homemade concession stand.  I set-up a popcorn station with a huge bucket of fresh popcorn and lots of seasonings to choose from.  In fact, I pulled out my Pampered Chef spices and rubs so our guest had about two dozen flavors to choose from.  My mom made a batch of her melt-in-your-mouth delicious caramel corn. 

We also had a pretzel station with fresh made pretzel balls.  To keep them warm, I put them in a chafing dish.  In the same chafing dish was four small bowl with caramel, chocolate, butter cream, and cheese sauce.  Personally, I enjoyed my pretzels rolled in cinnamon sugar and then topped with butter cream.  So good and pretty popular.

I also made pizza bites.  I buy my pizza dough from WinCo because they make it fresh and bag it for sale.  I LOVE their pizza dough and we use it for pizzas and calzones fairly often.  I also used mini pepperoni’s to give them a special feel.  Those little guys are so cute! 

We also had fresh fruit, strawberry kabobs, little jars of movie candy, chocolate bowls filled with mousse and topped with movie candy, and cake batter muddy buddies.   Of course, we also had the homemade snickers I mentioned above.

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This recipe has got to be one of the easiest versions of muddy buddies ever.  EVER.

 

Ingredients

  • 1 Box of Chex Cereal (I use rice, but any will do)
  • 2-3 Cups of White Melting Chocolates  (I like clusters, so I use the whole three cups)
  • One Box of Yellow or Vanilla Cake Mix
  • Sprinkles as desired

Put all the chocolates into a large microwave safe bowl.  Melt in microwave in 30 second increments.  Be sure to take it out and stir it at each increment so your chocolate doesn’t burn. 

Once the chocolate has completely melted, you will get your Chex cereal totally coated with chocolate.  There are multiple ways to do this.  One way is to poor the Chex into the bowl of chocolate and stir.  This works best if you have a really big bowl and a delicate hand so that you don’t crush all the cereal.  The other way (the way I usually go), is to evenly divide the cereal into two large ziplock bags.  Then, poor half the chocolate in one bag and the other half in the other bag.  Seal the bags with a little extra air in them, and then gently toss around until the cereal is all evenly coated.

If you have coated your cereal in the bowl, then you will move it into two bags before the next step.

Evenly divide the cake mix into each bag of coated cereal.  Add your sprinkles to each bag, then re-seal and toss again.  Gently toss until the powder of the cake mix has evenly coated the cereal. 

Next, lay sheets of wax paper on the countertop (or cookie sheets if you’ll need to move them soon) and spread out the Chex mix evenly and let sit until the chocolate sets.  Or, if you’re like me, you can just skip this step and go straight to eating it.

A variation of this would be to use a flavored cake mix, such as lemon or strawberry.  Or, you can add some lemon or orange zest to the chocolate before coating your cereal with it.

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I’ve seen a lot of really cute ribbon chandeliers out there and most of them are made on needle point hoops or wire hangers.  While all of them are totally adorable, I don’t exactly have and spare hoops lying around as I am not really into that particular craft (and I’m a hanger snob, so no wires!).  But, I was wanting to make a pretty little chandelier without going to the craft store to buy any new materials. 

Over the holidays, we had acquired a wire snowflake Christmas card holder that I thought could work.  But, alas, DH had already claimed it for his classroom (its being used to hold vocabulary words).  So, I needed to think of something else.  As I wondered around my home, looking in closets and cabinets, I had the great idea to use my wire cupcake tower.

Now that I had my base for the chandelier, I realized, I didn’t want to buy as much ribbon as it would take to cover all three tiers.  But I came up with a different idea.  I made sheets of paper ribbon and then cut them out.  If I wasn’t handy on the computer, or simply wanted a different look, I may have just used scrapbook paper, or hand colored some bits.  But the point here is that I have a sheet of paper with slits up to about an inch of the edge.

I printed these ribbons, and then cut them out.  Once I had all my paper ribbons ready, I simply taped them on to the cupcake stand.  I started on the top tier of the stand (meaning the bottom tier of the chandelier). 

Once it was completed, I simply had to find a place to hang it.  I originally wanted to hang it from my kitchen ceiling, but decided to put other decorations there.  Instead, I hung it along the walkway up to our front door.  I think if we were having an outdoor party, something like this would also look really cute hanging from the center of an ez-up. 

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In 2011, DH and I hosted our second annual Oscar Party.  Our creative outlet for that party was going to be in the names of our food.  We came up with a handful of Hollywood themed puns to name our food and I made up a batch of quirky little menu cards for each dish.

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Homemade Snickers

Through the wonderful world of Pinterest, I found this homemade snickers recipe.  It looked SOO good, that I had to try it, but I wanted to make a few adaptations.  Here is the recipe with my adaptations.

 

Ingredients

  • 2 ½  cups milk chocolate chips – divided
  • ¾ cup peanut butter – divided
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup evaporated milk
  • 1 ½ cups marshmallow fluff
  • ¼ cup peanut butter
  • 1 ½ cup salted peanuts chopped, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 11-ounce bag of caramels
  • ¼ cup whipping cream

 

Thoroughly grease you baking pan (I actually lined my pan with a large sheet of wax paper, long enough to hang over the edges.  This allowed me to pull the whole thing out easily).

 

Melt 1 ¼ cups of the chocolate and ¼ cup of the peanut butter together in a saucepan or microwave, then pour into the baking dish and spread until even.  Place in fridge to allow it to cool and harden completely.

 

While the chocolate is cooling, prepare your nougat.  Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add in sugar and milk, stirring until dissolved and bring to a boil. Make sure sugar is COMPLETELY dissolved!  Let cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add in fluff, ¼ cup of the peanut butter and vanilla, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat for a few minutes, then pour over bottom chocolate layer. Place pan back in fridge to allow the nougat layer to cool completely.

 

Once completely cooled, combine caramel and whipping cream in a saucepan over low heat. Let melt, stirring occasionally, until smooth – this may take up to about 10 minutes. Once melted, fold in peanuts.  Pour over nougat layer and, again, return to fridge to allow it to cool completely.

 

Finally, melt remaining chocolate and peanut butter together in a saucepan or microwave, then pour over caramel and spread until even. Let cool and harden completely.

 

Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving, then cut as desired. These can stay at room temperature, but they do get gooey. I like them refrigerated best!

 

makes one 9×13 pan

 

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It was about two years ago, now, that our friends Jon and Monique got married. I was honored that they asked me to bake their cake and happy to do something a little more traditional. Originally, she only wanted three tiers, but in discussing it, we decided that something a little more grandeur would be a more fun centerpiece. But we didn’t need all that cake. What we decided to do was make a couple faux tiers.

The bottom two tiers were actually Styrofoam! I was able to frost those puppies up in a flash and wrap on the blue ribbon provided by the bride. The other cakes were vanilla cake and either mango butter cream with bits of Filipino dried mangos chopped up and mixed in, or a more traditional strawberry butter cream. The fillings alternated in the layers. The outside, as you can guess, was vanilla butter cream.

The cake was trimmed with blue satin ribbon and accented with cymbidium orchids. Simple, elegant, beautiful.

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When my friend’s son turned two, he happened to be really into Toy Story. Of course, that means they had a Toy Story themed party. But her husband is an extremely talented graphic designer so it wasn’t just going to be the store bought pre-fabbed party kit. They came up with a really cute idea to call it a ‘Two’ Story party.

For the cake, we used the same logo he had designed and cut it out of fondant. The bottom tier we made to resemble the wall paper in Andy’s room. The second tier was meant to resemble the bed. And the top tier was the ever-famous bouncy ball that launches Buzz into the air. The letters of Emery’s name are made out of white chocolate. I found a mold that I think resembles magnetic letters, the kind found on the refrigerator in nearly every home in which a two year old lives. The little figurines, well… I’d like to say I molded them out of gum paste or something really impressive, but the truth is, I bought them. They came as a set from the local Disney store. But I’m getting better all the time, so one of these days, I may go back and mold all those characters just to say I can and did.

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