Saturday, September 25, 2010

Random Cool Finds

So every-so-often I come across something really cool, UNIQUE, different, fUnKY, fun, OR boutique-ish and I want to tell SOMEONE, anyone really...  I'm a dork when it comes to kitchen things or things that make life EASY- it makes me excited and all giggly.  My last kitchen purchase was a KitchenAid can opener- I immediately went home and opened a can of corn.. ALLL rightttt- I'm a DORK- I KNOW!

AnywhoOoO while I was looking for birthday gifts for my BFF and Sister, I stumbled across:

URBANO ECO CAN
It's called Bag Lady Urbano Eco Can and comes in different colors.  It's an ingeneous trash can that allows you to recycle your grocery bags in a neat and organized (those words excite me!) way.  You loop the handles of the bags on the cut-out portion of the Eco Can and when you're ready for another one- there's no need to fish them out from under the sink- it's waiting at the bottom for you!!!  Partially uber excited because the Boyfriend NEVER puts in a new bag... sigh...  Super cool website: www.uncommongoods.com.

and then I also found these super unique Wine Glass Top Appetizer Plates - OMG what a great housewarming gift RIGHT??!!!?!?!

What GENIUS thought of this!?!  Because we've all been STUCK with no table to park our Wine Glass and the other hand with a mini plate full of DE-lish food and not an extra hand to help shovel the food in your mouth!!  And isn't it hilarious (OK so I'm mean- but I don't laugh out loud!) to see someone trying to balance their plate with their glass in the same hand?!  Of course, there's the plate that also seat your glass (see below), but this is WAY more unique- much more thoughtful!  Check it out at http://www.catchingfireflies.com

Wrapables Cocktail Party Plates
Okay, so here they are..  Cocktail Party Plates. BUT these are WAY cute...  and check out the set it comes in:

Wrapables Cocktail Party Plates 2
Aaawww, look at these nice words "You're fun to be with" and "We feel lucky to know you".  Check it out at http://www.wrapables.com

OK OK and my last cool find that has NOTHING to do with the kitchen and EVERYTHING to do with presentation:  Personalized Wrapping Paper!!!
Silver Formal Gift Wrap
So it doesn't come in a bunch of colors or designs, BUT how COOL is that?!?  You can write something really personal and that's a GREAT finishing touch to any gift!!!  Check it out at http://www.grandinroad.com

Happy Shopping all!

A Monkey Birthday party for Kayden!


Happy Birthday Kayden!

I was tasked with a Monkey Themed birthday party for Kayden.  The ideas were endless and oh-so exciting!   Seeing that I'm still a beginner with fondant, I decided to take a stab at it for a second time.  I wans't too sure how long it would take so I used the weekend before the party to get the banana leafs done (although in retrospect, it would have probably been better to do them last minute).  

I tinted the white Fondant (that's all I had on hand) and rolled it out.  I was very inclined to roll it out very thin, I have no idea why?

I'm not sure what the fondant experts say about my use of a knife to cut my banana leaf, but it worked like a charm!

I accented the leaves with a few cuts on the edges.

I scored the middle of the leaf.

And again, with not a pocket full of fondant tools, I used the back of a butter knife to make some accent lines to the leaf.  (haha, I'm very resourceful, what can I say?)

Each leaf was left to hang over the edge of the cake pan that I'll use to bake the cake.  And here's where I went wrong, because the fondant dried on the straight edges, not anticipating that my cake wouldn't be as nearly as level or perfect as the cake pan. 

 Here's the finished leaves, I added a little more tint to the left over green fondant to have different shades of green.  And also made the rest of the accessories.

And here's the monkey, cake topper complete!

And at the very last minute I wrote his name in fondant circles.  I had other ideas, but didn't have enough time to do it.

In addition to the cake, I found this mold at Michael's- How FUN is this?!  I knew what a tedious task I was getting myself into, but what the heck- it's worth a shot!!  With all the different colors, it was a tiny bit time-consuming, each tray took me about 30 minutes (I only bought one tray).  BUT the end result- PHENOMENAL!!

How super cute is this?!

I dotted the eyes with edible marker.

I found it a little therapeutic, in a sense.  I had to concentrate so hard on remembering the layers of colors and remelting each color!  Fun stuff!

What are these cute little one inch monkeys doing?!  Birthday Mom ordered these online.  How friggen cute?!  (a few people asked if I made these- are you Kiddin' me?! haha)

Chocolate and banana muffins- YUMMY!  I stuck each in a bit of chocolate so they would be stable and they would stay upright.

I made a smash cake for Kayden with a few too!

I LOVE IT!

There's the Birthday Boy with a little help from his dad!  Needless to say, Kayden reaches over his head to give his dad a taste, all over his face!  It was a smash cake indeed, and ended up the face of the cutie-pa-tootie next to him!

Birthday Mom had made some of the cutest tissue pom-poms to decorate the pavilion at the park. So festive!

And if you're curious about the cake flavor... Red Velvet with Cheesecake layers and whipped vanilla frosting!  





Thursday, September 9, 2010

Cinnamon Chocolate Scones


I bought a mini scone pan from Williams Sonoma Outlet at Prim.  I was so excited to try something new!!  I'm not much of a scone fan and I've only tried it at Starbucks...

They didn't rise too much.  Utilizing the pan to bake scones resulted in a crispy outside and flaky inside.  I'm curious to know what the texture would have been like had I used a cookie sheet instead -I'll be sure to test it out next time!

I used a highly rated recipe from www.allrecipes.com called: Grandma Johnson's Scones.  It's a great base to start; the possibilities are endless and you can add anything your heart desires - cranberries, blueberries, dried fruit, citrus zest...


Ingredients

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup raisins (optional)

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, blend the sour cream and baking soda, and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a large baking sheet.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, cream of tartar, and salt. Cut in the butter. Stir the sour cream mixture and egg into the flour mixture until just moistened. Mix in the raisins.
  4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead briefly. Roll or pat dough into a 3/4 inch thick round. Cut into 12 wedges, and place them 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet.
  5. Bake 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown on the bottom.


Another reviewer left these tips that I followed:
Great recipe, just a few tips to avoid dryness and any dissaster. 
1. combine the sour cream (make sure you use sour cream)and baking soda, set aside. 
2. mix the butter (room temp.) with the sugar (just use 3/4 cup), beat the egg w/ vanilla (yes, I add 1 tsp. of vanilla), and add to sugar/butter mixture. 
3. mix well the dry ingredients and then add them to the butter/sugar/egg/vanilla, just to get all together, do not overmix. 
4. Add the Sour Cream w/baking soda, again, do not overmix. From here, you can add as much "toppings" as you´d like, I try chocolate chips, but will try as many suggestions as I can. 
I make 16 balls and press them w/ my hands to make a flat circle. 
Bake them 15 min. 
The secret, not over mix or over handle.

Yum!  Everyone at work loved them!!

Chocolate Cookies - CAKE

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AARON!
Today is my team mate and co-worker's birthday.  He LOVES anything with chocolate cookies.  Crunchy chocolate cookies to be exact.  There were several cookie-cake options that came to mind- like a giant cookie (on a pizza pan) but that's an easy answer!!  Another co-worker of mine, Molli had suggested stacking the cookies to create a box like-cake-shape with the cookies.  What a unique idea!!  And the best part was that it was assembled in about 30 minutes!  By far, the quickest assembly yet!  (The fondant bow took a few days of prep- but easy!)

To create the cookie cake, I purchased two bags of Chocolate Chip Cookies - Crunchy cookies (I sorta believe that the crunchy ones have a little more stability than chewy).  I also purchased store bought chocolate frosting.  For your first row, be sure to put icing on the bottom of the cookie so it stabilizes the base- it won't slide or move in the tray.  Frost the top of each cookie prior to stacking them on top of each other, row by row.  I used about 1/2 tablespoon worth of frosting on each and applied pressure when stacking to make sure they were stable. You can make these a few hours before presenting; I made it the day before and the cookies were stuck together like glue!  As an after thought, I probably should have put a little frosting in between each neighboring cookie to ensure each column wouldn't tip over, but it didn't!

On to the fondant bow...

This is my FIRST experience with fondant of any kind...  It's taken me a long time to grow balls for this project- and I have NO idea why I found it SO intimidating!?!  It was so pliable and play-dough-like that it was actually FUN to play with!!

I pulled out a chunk of fondant about the size of a racquetball and kneaded it for a few minutes to soften it up.  Roll it out to 1/8th inch thickness.

I cut the edges to create a straight edge.

Each piece is about 1/2 inch thick and about 6 1/2 inches long.  I used 6 of these strips to make the outer section of the bow.

Dab a drop of water on the end and fold the two ends together.  Keep the loop open and shape it the way you want it.  Lay it on it's side- like shown above- to dry for approximately 24 hours.  Once it's set, there's not much movement, so plan accordingly!

I made 7 additional loops- about 5 inches long - this will be the inner part of the bow.  The seventh one is used for the center of the bow.

The next day, I assembled the larger bows together, dabbing water in between each of the bows and held it fairly tight until they binded together.  I also used small amounts of softened (fresh) fondant to help bind each  loop. Continue with the next row (the smaller sized loops) and the last bow in the center to hide all of the imperfections.

I also made a few more strips, about 1/4 inch in width and 7 inches in length.  I wrapped it around a chop stick and let them dry.  I used these as curly ribbons.

I also made a few more strips to use as a ribbon on the edges of the cake.  Quick and Easy as pie!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Thank you for my Birthday Gifts!

I felt SO special on my Birthday!  Thank you to everyone for making it such a great start to my 28th year!!   My best friend heard that I got an Ice Cream maker so she sent me Williams Sonoma ice cream starters, chocolate powder and Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla. (Thank you Sheena!)  ...And there's Bear in the back, he's pouting because I'm so excited about my goodies and of course, I'm not paying attention to him!

My co-workers, Jose, Susan and Emma got me a William's Sonoma Gift card and so did Eric's Mom (Thank you for supporting my Williams Sonoma addiction!)!!  That was put to good use because I bought some things I've been wanting but never got around to buying yet!
I got a Bundt Pan, Mini Bundt Pans, Scone Pan, some cheap knives that we desperately need, paste food coloring and black sugar (that is seasonal to Halloween and I won't find throughout the year).. And the best part, I still have money left over on my gift card!!  Whoo Hoo!!


I'm so Lucky to have a Fab sister!!  Thank you Michelle!!  I already used my Melting Pot in my Balloon Blog!! 

Here's a close up of my measuring cups!  Totally LOVE it!!  ...I posted it a while ago as something on my Wish List...  Looks super cute in my kitchen!!

I got an Ice Cream Maker, Cookie Press, and Bread Maker from Stephanie -Eric's Sister!! (ear to ear smile- if you could see my face, thank you Stephanie!!)

I bought these from Ikea during my last trip to San Diego.  They were very cheap -I think it was $1.99- Unless there' another use for these that I'm unaware of, I use it for the bottom of cakes.  I've already used the pink one for the Hershey Kiss Cake.  It seems like the right blog to talk about it! (I heart Ikea!)


My Mom mailed me flowers at work (thank you Mom!).  Look at how pretty these spring flowers are!!!  And those super cute  cupcakes are actually candles- from Susan as well!

My Team at work decorated my office with streamers and happy birthday signs and the best part: baking utensils and kitchen stuff!!  I LOVE it!!

Eric surprised me and took me to M Resort where we got a couples massage, we watched Chef Tina Martini film a food show while we ate a small appetizer she prepared, had lunch at M Buffet, hung out at the pool ... What a relaxing day!!

...and we had dinner at Michael Mina's at Bellagio- our five course meals were to DIE for- so delicious, prepared so perfectly, everything melted in our mouth!!  I forgot my camera all day- boo!!  But I used my camera phone to take a picture of our dessert- the most important part of our meal!!

Thank you for all of my birthday wishes, wonderful cards, super cool gifts, calls, texts, messages -OOHHH I'm so lucky to have wonderful people in my life who shared my special day with me!!!