Baby Shower

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of co-hosting a baby shower for a good friend of mine expecting her second child.  My other friend and co-host created 3 games, as well as made the punch and veggie and fruit tray.  Since the shower was held at 2:00, we didn’t feel the need for tons of food because it was between lunch and dinner.

Here’s what I made:

diaper cake

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There are plenty of “how to” videos out there on the web, so I’ll try to keep this short.  This is basically what I did:

I bought a package (75 count maybe) of newborn diapers (or size 1) in a mostly solid white color.  They did have a little blue/purple theme going on at the top, but I was able to roll that under (solid white is ideal though).

Other supplies I had on hand:  large glass cake pedestal, 12″ wooden dowel rods, and a ton of rubber bands in various sizes – you will definitely need some really large ones though (they should measure about 7″ unstretched).

So, I just started rolling diapers and wrapping each with a small rubber band.  I used approximately 55 diapers…so just roll a whole bunch.  Then when you have a pile of rolled diapers, gather some into a large circle on the plate stand to create the bottom (biggest) tier.  Take a really large rubber band and wrap it around the whole bundle to hold all the individual rolls in place.

Repeat with the middle and top tiers, using fewer diaper rolls.  Once you have the large rubber band holding the whole tier, you can remove the small rubber bands from the individual rolls, for a smoother look.

Stack the 3 tiers, and skewer with the dowel rods to secure (be careful not to puncture any diapers).  This allows you to transport it without it falling apart.

Decorate with ribbon, small toys, bows, fake flowers, etc…  I just used tape and small paper clips to secure the ribbons that I layered around each tier.

The great thing about making a diaper cake for a baby shower is that it can be done weeks in advance, leaving the days immediately prior to the shower free to bake and prepare other food.

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cake truffles

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I used Bakerella’s famous method for making these, of course.  She is the queen of cute cake treats!  Click the link for her step by step instructions.

Here's the supplies ready to go...

Here's the supplies ready to go...

I did 2 batches, one chocolate cake and one yellow cake.  And I used various sprinkles on them.  These doubled as treats that we ate at the shower, as well as favors for the guests to take home.  I wrapped half in small favor bags from Hobby Lobby and left the other half on trays to be enjoyed.

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cupcakes

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We decided to make cupcakes instead of buying (or making) one or two large sheet cakes.  I did one batch of French Vanilla and one batch of Dark Chocolate. Then, I made regular and chocolate buttercream for both.  I used Wilton’s 1M tip to decorate.

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individual cake

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Even though we didn’t have large cakes to serve, I still wanted to have a small individual type of cake just for the expectant mother.  So, I made a 6″ round chocolate cake and decorated it with chocolate buttercream and used white fondant for the baby foot prints.   We ended up not cutting into this at the shower and the family actually froze it to enjoy once they brought their new baby home.

cream cheese mints

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These are one of the things I always look forward to having at any shower or wedding that I attend, so I knew we had to have them!

This recipe is from Milk & Honey.  I left one batch white and tinted the other batch light blue using Wilton color gels.  One thing I did differently from the recipe was press the mixture into candy molds rather than forming them with my hands.

This is also something that can be made a few days or even a week in advance, they store wonderfully in the fridge for a few days or in the freezer for longer.

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Here is part of the spread set up at the shower.  I used “It’s a boy” picks from Hobby Lobby in some of the cupcakes.

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Tostadas

A while back I picked up some tostada shells at the store on a whim.  I had never bought them before, but I thought we would give them try since we really enjoy Mexican food.  It also got us out of a rut that consisted of tacos, taco salad, tacos, enchiladas, and tacos.  We really enjoyed these and commented that they are like mini Mexican pizzas. Yum!  And they would be great for a party, with everyone choosing their own toppings.

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I can’t really give measurements here:

ground beef or chicken, cooked and seasoned with taco seasoning

two or three tostadas per person (4″ -5″ size)

shredded cheese (we like pepper-jack)

sliced olives, we like black olives but green would be fine too

fresh or pickled sliced jalapenos

finely chopped red onion

salsa, guacamole, and/or sour cream for dipping

Other toppings that would be good that we didn’t use are:  black beans, cilantro, tomato, corn, and chopped bell pepper.

Directions

Line a baking sheet (or 2 if serving more than 3 people) with foil and preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place tostadas in a single layer on the baking sheet.  Top each tostada with a few tablespoons of meat, then layer on other topping choices as you wish always ending with shredded cheese.  Do not put sour cream or guacamole on at this point.

Place in the oven for 4-7 minutes or until hot and cheese is melty.

Serve with sour cream and/or guacamole on the side.  We ate them without any side dishes, but rice and beans would be great with this meal.

Enjoy!

Don't be like me and leave them in too long, burning the edges.

Don't be like me and leave them in too long, burning the edges.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Known as “The Chewy,”  by Alton Brown, these cookies are exactly that.  They stay chewy for several days after baking!  I don’t know about you, but it seems like several recipes for chocolate chip cookies turn into rocks 2-3 days post baking!  These do not, they remain delicious!  I’ll definitely be making them again.

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Ingredients

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 1/4 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Hardware:

  • Ice Cream scooper (#20 disher, to be exact)
  • Parchment paper
  • Baking sheets
  • Mixer

Directions

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom medium saucepan over low heat. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside.

Pour the melted butter in the mixer’s work bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar. Cream the butter and sugars on medium speed. Add the egg, yolk, 2 tablespoons milk and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Chill the dough, then scoop onto parchment-lined baking sheets, 6 cookies per sheet. Bake for 14 minutes or until golden brown, checking the cookies after 5 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet for even browning. Cool completely and store in an airtight container

Blueberry Struesel Muffins

I picked up a large package of blueberry’s at Sam’s over the weekend without any plan in mind of how to use them.  I just new they looked delicious and I could not pass up the great price.  The hubs suggested blueberry scones, but I was in the mood for something new.

I skimmed through my Google Reader and found this recipe from Ellie – one of my favorite bloggers!  Seriously everything she posts looks delicious!  I guess I should have been born in the South because southern food is one of my favorite types!  I only made one adaptation and that was adding about a teaspoon of cinnamon to the batter, so that the struesel topping flavor would be present in the muffin as well.  Very Delicious!

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Blueberry Streusel Muffins
recipe adapted from Vintage Victuals

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup butter, softened

1 egg

2 1/3 cups flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon – not in original recipe

1 cup milk (I used 2%)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups blueberries

1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, softened

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, and grease or line 18 muffin cups.

In an electric mixer bowl, cream sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat until well-combined.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt (and cinnamon if you want).  Add to creamed mixture alternately with milk, stirring well after each addition.

Finally, stir in vanilla and blueberries. Spoon batter into greased or lined muffin cups, filling two-thirds of the way full.

For topping, combine the sugar, flour, and teaspoon cinnamon. Cut in the butter with a fork or pastry blender until mixture resembles crumbs. Sprinkle on top of muffin batter.

Bake at 375 degrees for 25 – 30 minutes or until golden brown. Yield ~ 18 muffins.   (I got 19 muffins and they were done baking at exactly 25 minutes.)

Appetizer Night!

With Tim and I eating dinner together now, I have had to come up with more complete meal menus for every night.  And to tell the truth, I’m running out of ideas which explains last night’s meal.  Appetizers!  I made Pigs in a Blanket (lol) and bacon wrapped jalapenos.

Back when I was fixing and eating dinner alone a few months ago,  I tended to wing it and not necessarily fix a complete meal every night.  For that matter, I didn’t even cook every night.  Sometimes I’d eat leftovers or a bowl of cereal.  Also, I used to do most of my meal planning (recipe research, reading blogs and cookbooks, etc) in the evenings when I was home alone.  Now, he is home and my schedule has been thrown off.

I hope to develop a routine soon as far as meal planning and grocery shopping.  But for now, we’re eating some pretty random things.

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Pigs in a blanket

approximately half a package of cocktail wieners (or regular hot dogs cut in half or thirds)

1 can of crescent rolls

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cut each crescent roll into 2 triangles.   Wrap each hot dog in a crescent roll and place on a baking sheet.  Bake for 12-14 minutes or until golden.

The next recipe is one that I make ALL.THE.TIME.   Since we grow our own jalapenos we have several to use up throughout the summer and this is primarily how I choose to use them.  YUMMY!  This time I stuck to the simple 3 ingredient recipe, but last year I made them so often that I started experimenting with different additions to the filling.  I would recommend mixing the cream cheese with any combination of the the following to boost the flavor:   cooked and crumbled sausage, garlic powder, shredded cheddar cheese, and/or chopped green onion.

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Bites

recipe from the Pioneer Woman

Adjust the quantities for the amount of people you are serving.

bacon or turkey bacon (approx 5 slices)

cream cheese, softened (about 2-3 oz.)

fresh jalapenos (We used about 9 whole jalapenos = 18 bites)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.  If you are using regular bacon, place a rack over the foil (like a cookie cooling rack) so the bites don’t sit in the bacon fat.  I used turkey bacon so I didn’t use a rack.

Cut the bacon slices in half or thirds –  it kinda depends on the size of the jalapenos.  Ours were kind of small, so I did thirds.

Slice each jalapeno in half and clean out the seeds and membrane.

Fill the jalapeno halves with cream cheese and wrap with bacon pieces.  Secure with toothpicks if necessary.  Place on baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes.

These are great served warm, but they are also terrific served at room temp. So if you are having a party, go ahead and make them ahead of time.

ENJOY!

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Yay Garden!

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We had a rocky start with our garden this year and had to replant several things including:  corn, beans, and peppers.  Today we decided that our peas are a loss too, and we’ll replant them soon.  The culprits were weeds and a couple of cute bunnies eating everything off when they sprouted.  To keep the bunnies out, we put up a fence after replanting.  We had a really hard time keeping up with weeding and they just overtook some areas and smothered the plants.

I may have mentioned it before, but we try to start everything in the garden with seeds instead of plants.  (I think it is much cheaper)  Well, with the fiasco of loosing several plants, we did transplant actual pepper plants the second time and the tomatoes were transplants as well.

One new thing we are trying is growing strawberries.  We planted the seeds this year, hopefully we’ll have some beautiful berries next year!

But this is some of what we have today:

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Onions, red and white.

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Two Tomato Plants

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3 or 4 Broccoli plants, which surprisingly the rabbits didn’t eat.  Last year they nibbled on them the most but not enough to lose them.

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Four green bell pepper plants.

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Five jalapeno plants (ready to harvest!)

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Parsley in a container. (Correction – this is Cilantro!)

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Basil in a container.

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Our patio (and perimeter of our house) is lined with dozens of lilies!

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We have orange, red and huge yellow (top of post) lilies in different areas.  Thank you previous home owner!

Some things in the garden that are not pictured are:  sweet corn, green beans, carrots, lettuce and the sad peas.  Honestly the weeds are too bad and embarrassing to post pictures!

And it is definitely due to Tim’s hard work that we have what we do in the garden.  I have used the term “we” very loosely in this post. ha ha.  He puts in way more effort than I do.  Thanks hubs!

 

Strawberry Pie

This is absolutely a family favorite!  The hubster and my dad LOVE strawberry pie!  I’ve already made 2 of them this summer and I’m sure I’ll make more before the summer is over.  This is my grandma’s recipe and it is a winner!

It is best to eat it all the same or next day that  it is made or it becomes watery.

Strawberry Pie

Ingredients

1 pie crust ( I use this one.)

1 cup strawberries, cleaned and hulled and cut into small (1/4″) pieces

1 cup sugar

3 Tbsp. corn starch

1 cup water

few drops red food coloring – optional (I usually don’t add any)

additional 2.5 – 3 cups berries, cleaned hulled and sliced in half or quarters

Directions

Prepare and blind bake a pie crust (not a deep dish).  Allow it to cool. ( I usually do this the night before.)

In a small or medium saucepan, mix sugar and corn starch.  Add one cup of water slowly.  Add the cup of berry pieces and cook over medium heat, stirring often (about 10 minutes or less).  The mixture will turn from a white liquid to thick and clear when done.  Add a few drops of food coloring if you wish (or you may think it is red enough).  Cool.

Stir in the rest of the berries.  Pour into pie crust and chill 3-4 hours before serving.  Can also arrange a few additional halved strawberries on top.

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