Why can’t the dad’s have a party too!
Our friends Chris and Jaime are expecting their first child in May. This is the second Man Shower, as I like to call them, that I’ve heard of. Such a cute idea! Way to go boys. Each guy was to bring a pack of diapers and of course a beverage of choice! Such a nice way to help out the new parents to be. I guess since Chris got all the diapers that means he’s on diaper duty!
As I was making some sweet treats for Jaime’s shower my hubby asked if they were for the boy party. Good idea Steve! Every party should have cake!
For the boys, I instantly thought whiskey and peanut butter. Not sure why. Kind of sounds weird. But it somehow worked. I had a batch of vanilla mini cupcakes in the freezer. I try to keep small cakes and cupcakes in the freezer for occasions like this. When something comes up and you need something quick, you’re half way there. Italian Buttercream also freezes really well. Keep a batch of that and you can whip something together in no time.
I was already making a batch of buttercream for the girls so I doubled the batch and douced half with Makers Mark and chopped Reese’s Peanut Butter cups (thanks leftover Halloween candy).
Wow. Yummy. Seemed like the perfect combo for the boys.
Happy Diaper party Chris! Hope you enjoyed the cupcakes and can’t wait to have another new little person in our lives.
me and my loves
I’m a fan of salt. It always livens things up. Especially chocolate! And when we’re talking about fleur de sel, you have to admit it sounds fancy! Fleur de sel, translation, flower of salt. Sounds pretty magical to me.
I love all the flavored salts that are coming on the market these days. One of my favorite sea salts right now is harvested from the Murray River in Australia. I bought it at the Brisbane airport on my last trip out of Australia. I’ve been rationing it ever since and will be a little sad when it’s gone. I can find it here now but of course it’s way more expensive as it’s taken a boat ride to get here.
What could make beautiful pink flakes of salt even better? By adding the seeds of a vanilla bean. My sweet savory love continues…
1 cup Flaky Sea Salt
1 scraped Vanilla Bean or 1 tsp of ground Vanilla Beans
Add any flaky sea salt to a bowl, mix in your scraped vanilla bean and store in a glass jar. Use in Salted Vanilla White Chocolate Cookies or Goldie’s Cookies or in place of regular salt in any of your baked goods. You can never have enough vanilla in my opinion.
If you only want a couple tablespoons just adjust accordingly. No right or wrong ratio here.
Just had a thought…salted vanilla bean syrup. Might just have to test that out sometime. Happy baking!
There are so many chocolate chip cookie recipes out there. All just a fraction bit different than the rest. I have a recipe called ‘The World’s Greatest Chocolate Chip Cookies’ (have it scribbled on a piece of paper, sorry not sure where the original recipe originated), which is a pretty big claim. Is there really a cookie that is the absolute best? Above all others? I’m still looking.
Oh yeah where was I, cookies! Needing something yummy and cute today as we’re going to visit our friends who have just had their sweet baby girl! Do I go ‘world’s greatest’ or try to take those to an even greater level? Of course mid recipe, I start changing things. I can’t help it. I’m always on the search of the absolute perfect anything and everything. So here goes…
1 cup of softened unsalted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla
2 1/4 cup of all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla bean fleur de sel*
1 tsp ground vanilla beans or scrape the seeds from 1 pod
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips, I used a mix of chocolate and peanut butter chips
Preheat oven to 375. In a bowl whisk the flour, baking soda, salt and vanilla beans together and set aside.
In a kitchen mixer, or in a bowl with a hand mixer, beat butter, both sugars,eggs and vanilla for about 3 minutes until light and fluffy.
Slowly add in flour mixture and mix on low until combined. Stop mixer and stir in chocolate chips.
At this point you could drop by teaspoon on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack.
For a little something extra, take a 10×15 cookie sheet, line with parchment and spread all the cookie dough.
You’ll want your flour close by to help the batter from sticking to your hands.
Spread it as best as you can and pop it in the oven for about 20 minutes. It will still be a bit soft in the middle but if the edges are getting brown its time!
Let it cool in the pan completely and then get creative…
Welcome to the newest cutie on the block, Goldie Sophia Miller. We love you already.
me and my loves
*Vanilla Fleur de Sel
My 5 year old is determined she does not like green stuff. She used too. And now she doesn’t. If you have kids you know what I mean. You get going along good with something and then, nope don’t like it anymore.
We have a few exceptions, not sure why. She likes pesto, cucumber and green smoothies. So I try to incorporate those to get a little green goodness in her life. Secretly of course.
One night I went to make some pesto with a brand new beautiful bag of organic basil, opened it and most of the bag was yuck. Man I have a love hate thing with the organic bagged and boxed salads and herbs. I salvaged all the leaves I could but it didn’t amount to much. Hmmm. What do I do? Do I have enough greens? I have kale! Will that work? We’ll soon find out.
I don’t really follow a recipe for pesto. I kinda throw in a little of this and a little of that and they always seem to work out. I would say I use about 1 1/2 cups of toasted nuts, whatever you have, I usually use cashews, but sometimes almonds, sometimes both. Experiment and see what works for you. I toast the nuts and let them cool slightly. Grab your food processor add nuts, garlic (as much or as little as you like, my kids aren’t huge on garlic so I usually add a clove or two), a handful of basil and in this case kale! Or some other green, spinach would totally work. Chop that all up. Start adding some olive oil to bring it together. Add some parmesan cheese and then season with salt and pepper.
Should eventually start to look like this…
Pesto is such a great busy weeknight meal. If it’s been a while or you’ve never made it give it a try. You can have a fresh healthy meal on the table in about 20 minutes. If you don’t use it all, place in a freezer safe container and pop in the freezer. So great for the next quick and easy dinner. Try it on pizza or bake on some chicken.
This version looked and tasted good to me but Livia had to be the final judge. It worked. Both girls loved it! Now every time I make pesto I add kale. But secretly. I know if she saw me adding kale or even the basil for that matter, she would say “I don’t like green stuff”.
Eat your greens and enjoy!
me and my loves
Our friends Sean and Tanya are expecting a little girl to arrive sometime soon! And to celebrate, Tanya’s mother hosted a beautiful backyard baby shower.
The mum and dad to be were both glowing and you could feel the love, and excitement, amongst all their family and friends.
I had the honour of making the cake for the shower. I decided on a Dark Chocolate Cake with a Raspberry Vanilla Bean Buttercream.
The Ruffle cake seemed the absolute perfect way to celebrate the pending arrival of a sweet baby girl.
Sean and Tanya, thanks for having such a beautiful party and for letting me share in this special moment. Can’t wait to meet this little angel.
me and my loves
I’m addicted to Vanilla Beans!
There is nothing quite like the flavour of vanilla. Simply, it just makes everything better. Except for the time when I had vanilla vodka and broke out with a rash on my face. That was at least 13 years ago and I haven’t tried it since.
Okay back to business…I think my husband and I were addicted to those International Delight coffee creamers for a while. Or maybe it was just me. I wouldn’t even want to drink, nor would I enjoy, coffee without them. Mmmm French Vanilla. But seriously, half of the ingredients you can’t pronounce and if something is good for months on end, chances are, it’s not good for you. Yuck!
Definitely not taking the claim here for Vanilla Syrup but just wanted to share a simply delicious alternative to using those coffee creamers. Okay get ready, it’s extremely tricky.
Okay so maybe not tricky. Actually easy, very easy! You’ll need a pot, some measuring cups and a knife to scrape your vanilla bean and voila a delicious simple syrup douced with the fruity, sweet flavour of vanilla bean.
Pour your sugar and water in a pot and start to simmer on medium. Like many simple syrups you want a 1:1 ratio for the sugar and water. I usually use 1 1/2 cups of each which will last us a good week and half. Scrape a vanilla bean, or two, I usually use one and add another dash or so of ground up vanilla beans. Can’t get enough.
Add the vanilla caviar, the little black seeds you scrape, the scraped pod, give it a couple stirs and then bring the syrup to a boil.
You may need to turn your stove up slightly to get it to a boil. Once it boils, let it simmer for 5
minutes or so to make sure all of the sugar has dissolved.
Turn off the stove and let it steep until the syrup cools to room temperature. Then find your favorite bottle or jar and pour this deliciousness in, pod and all. I prefer any type of hermetic bottle, the ones with a rubber flip seal but mason jars get frequented as well. Store in your fridge and enjoy.
This syrup is on regular rotation in our house. I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of the flavour of vanilla. Absolutely delicious in coffee, on yoghurt, pancakes, waffles, fruit, ice cream, really anything. I’ve even poured some over pecans while toasting them for a salad. And a friend says they love adding a splash to their cheerios. This morning I made a fresh batch and breakfast went like this…pancakes, plain yoghurt, vanilla bean syrup and topped off with coconut chips (which I will try and recreate and post something on them someday, delicious).
Prepare to become addicted!
me and my loves
*You can use any type of sugar. I started using plain white granulated sugar and then moved to organic cane sugar, which I prefer. It has a more rich flavour and deeper colour.
Summer is here! And with summer comes all the magical, yummy fruit.
It’s July 4th and I had some family visiting from the US, so perfect chance to celebrate with a little red, white and blue!
I knew I wanted something with fresh local berries and I stumbled across this Old Fashioned Berry Layer Cake from good old Martha’s Baking Handbook. I can’t find a link to the recipe online but honestly, not sure I would make the cake again. This one had a mountain of eggs, like 10, I might have to start raising chickens if I make cakes like this too often. The cake on its own was just okay, a bit egg’y in my opinion. So I don’t think I’ll type it out, if, when, I make it again I would use any white cake flavoured with maybe lemon extract or vanilla bean! Mmm that would be good. If you don’t have a good recipe let me know and I can suggest something. Or chocolate cake, that would be good too.
Don’t get me wrong, assembled, the cake was very yummy but I’m giving most of the credit to the whipped cream and gorgeous berries. Could anything really be bad with whipped cream and berries?
To recreate, you’ll need two 9″ round cakes. Bake, cool and cut in half. I decided to only use three layers, just seemed big enough to me. Whip up some cream, add icing sugar to taste and vanilla bean, if you’re as addicted as me. Find a serving dish, I used my late Aunt Laverne’s beautiful serving platter, and start assembling. Place the first layer down and top with the whipped cream, then assorted berries, another layer of cake, cream, berries and so on. You could assemble ahead of time but I wouldn’t do the top layer of berries until right before serving. I topped mine with raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and blackberries but use whatever you love or have. You could go tropical and use mango and passionfruit. Yum! I’ll test that someday soon.
Enjoy your summer! Enjoy all the fresh fruit! And Happy Birthday America!
me and my loves
Not sure how it happened but my oldest daughter Livia, has just turned 5. Happy birthday my Liv love!
I love birthdays! Planning them, attending them, baking for them, really everything about them. Seems as people get older they really start to dislike their day of birth. I haven’t hit that part of life yet. Celebrate it people! It’s why you’re here. Celebrate another year of memories and experiences. And for Livia, it was all about finally being 5!
Now what kind of a birthday would you imagine from a 5 year old that loves all things purple and princessy? Not what you’d expect! A bug birthday! Creepy, crawly bugs! They’ve been learning about bugs at their junior kindergarten and I gladly took on the challenge of making a fun party about bugs. And I discovered along the way that bugs, made from chocolate, are delicious!
One of the parts I love most about planning parties is when the inspiration starts to flow. I knew we needed bugs. Where do bugs live, in a backyard. And we knew it was a birthday. So we ended up with a…Backyard Bug Birthday!
When I asked Livia if she wanted a cake or cupcakes, of course she replied both. Silly question. So I made a dark chocolate cake with a german chocolate buttercream filling and iced with a vanilla bean (because I can’t get enough of vanilla beans) italian buttercream. I made bugs out of chocolate modeling paste using all natural food coloring from Chocolate Craft kits in Oregon.
For the cupcakes, I did mini vanilla cupcakes, piped flowers with vanilla bean italian buttercream and topped with the bugs. They were devoured. Not a crumb of cake or cupcake left.
Can’t have a party without snacks…
We ate crunchy Caterpillars (green grapes and a skewer)
Dragon Flies (yoghurt covered pretzels and pocky)
LadyBugs (strawberries and mini chocolate chips)
A SunFlower (cheese, grapes and cucumber)
Sugar Cookies or Five Cookies, as Livia called them
Bug Juice (watered down apple juice shhhh)
For part of our goodie bags, I put my husband to work to prep all that we needed for the kids to build bug houses. He cut and sanded wood, cut bamboo, drilled holes in scrap wood, drilled starter nail holes and even counted out nails. I found some small hammers from Daiso so the kids could help build their house. Apparently Mason Bees and Ladybugs love these kinds of houses. The kids seemed to love this project. I know lots of pics, but come on how cute are all of these kids?!?
After the bug houses were built and left to dry, it was cake time! The kids waiting patiently…
And here comes the cake!
The Backyard Bug Birthday was a blast! Thanks to everyone for coming. Livia had such a great time!
I didn’t get photos of making everything but if you have any questions please leave me a comment and I will do my best to help.
All these beautiful photos were taken by Rebekah Logan Photography http://rebekahlogan.com. Thanks Rebekah, they’re amazing!
If anyone ever needs any baked goods or party ideas, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. In case you didn’t know, I kinda enjoy doing it!
Until the next birthday…
me and my loves