Monday, May 31, 2010

Popcorn Cupcakes

I took this picture with my iPhone, so it's not super clear, but these are the cupcakes I made for Jack's and Ben's last day of school parties. They are a white cupcake with buttercream frosting. To make the "popcorn," you cut X's into mini marshmallows with kitchen shears. Then you use Wilton color mist spray in yellow to make them look buttery. To create a popcorn box look, I used Wilton standard sized nut and party cups with red stripes colored on the sides.
Since Ben's room had a circus theme this year and Jack had a carnival-themed party, popcorn cupcakes worked for both boys. I'll be honest - it took a looooong time to color the red stripes and cut up the marshmallows to make 50 or so cupcakes. But I was very happy with the result!
Here's a tip if you take cupcakes into work or the classroom - buy a plastic sweater box from Target to carry them in. They have lids, and 20-24 cupcakes fit perfectly. They're deep enough to accommodate any decorations as well.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Cookout Food

Posted by Picasa

I love this time of year! Cookouts are one of my favorite entertaining options. I like to have lots of sides using the abundant fresh produce available right now. And whether you eat inside or dine al fresco, the food tastes better cooked on a grill.

Here are some of my favorite things to bring to a barbecue. I'll be adding links throughout the summer.

Have a great Memorial Day!

Flag Cake

Greek Layered Dip

Asian Broccoli Slaw

Salad Caprese

Greek Couscous

Antipasto Pasta Salad

Caesar Salad

Greek Feta Dip

Mexican Dip

Fruit Dip

Sweet Corn Pudding

Righteous Herb Cheese Spread

Football Field Cake

Posted by Picasa

I made this giant cookie cake for the sweet son of a dear friend. He wanted a sugar cookie cake, so I used this recipe. I lined the rimmed cookie sheet with quick-release foil and pressed the dough in it evenly. I baked it at 350 for 22 minutes - until golden brown. I let it cool in the pan until I could move it to a cutting board.

You can substitute any sugar cookie dough you like - just be sure you have enough for 7 dozen cookies (that's what the recipe I used yields, and it filled the cookie sheet perfectly). I used this buttercream recipe and made a double batch. I colored one batch with leaf green color and frosted the whole cookie (I star tipped the sides in white, but you could just use the green for the whole thing). I also pressed sparkling sugar into the frosting to give it that shiny turf look.

Then I used a skewer to make 11 lines in the frosting and filled them in with white lines, writing the yard lines on using a very small writing tip.

I piped the football freehand in black, and filled it with brown frosting, using the smallest star tip to mimic football dimples (that's what they're called, right?). The birthday boy's initials became the football laces. "Laces OUT!" (what movie?). Tip: Use cocoa powder to make brown frosting - it tastes better and makes a nice dark brown.

I should have made fondant goalposts, but I cheated with pipe cleaners in Vanderbilt's colors. This cake would be great for college football season or the Super Bowl - you could make the end zones bigger and write the team names in them. If you wanted a cake, you could just use a 9X13 pan for the cake. I'd probably stack two cakes with frosting in the middle.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Beach Umbrella Cupcakes

I have so many good recipes to share, but I have been busy grading papers! I'm hoping to get some updates done this weekend.

Ben's preschool had their "water day" yesterday - they wore swimsuits and played with squirt guns. At least, that was Ben's description - I'm sure there was more involved! The parents provided hotdogs, etc. for lunch, and I brought these beach umbrella cupcakes. They are a great choice if you need something for an end-of-the-school-year/welcome-to-summer party. And they're easy, too!

Items Needed

1. Cupcakes and white frosting (I used a great new chocolate recipe that I'll share soon, and no-shortening buttercream)

2. Graham cracker crumbs (process graham crackers in a food processor, or whack them with a rolling pin in a plastic bag until they look like sand)

3. Cocktail drink umbrellas (I got mine at Party City - they were a little big, but I think the kids liked them because they were shiny. I snipped the sharp tip off the bottom.)

4. Fruit gummi tape (I bought this at Fuzziwig's, a candy store. I cut it up to look like beach towels. You could also use Fruit-by-the-Foot, but the stripes on the gummi tape are very cute.)

Frost cupcakes. Put graham cracker crumbs in a bowl, and dip frosted top of cupcake into crumbs. Roll edges to cover.

Attach "beach blanket" with a dot of extra frosting. Stick beach umbrella into cupcake.

I saw Martha Stewart use drink umbrellas for beach umbrellas, and she put these cupcakes on a tray interspersed with blue-frosted cupcakes with a paper shark fin sticking out. I adapted this a bit - I piped blue frosting in a wave pattern and then put a gummi shark on top (also from Fuzziwig's). Ben was more excited about the sharks then the umbrellas!