Mini-Cakes for Jessica’s Virtual Shower

In just a few weeks my super sweet friend Jessica, from My Baking Heart, will be tying the knot with her fiance, Chris. She’s obviously a smart girl, because October is THE best time to get married. 🙂 To honor the beautiful bride-to-be, our friend Nikki, from Pennies on a Platter, organized a virtual bridal shower, and I couldn’t be more excited to participate!


(How ridiculously cute is this couple?! Click the picture to see even more of their unique engagement photo shoot)

Jessica is a Southern Belle and one of the most genuinely sweet ladies out there! One thing I really love about her is that she is just as passionate about cooking and baking as she is about football at her alma mater, TCU (Texas Christian University). When deciding what to make for her shower I wanted to tie together all of my favorite things about her! Something sweet, dainty, and, of course, purple!

The mini-cakes I decided on are like a cross between petit fours and Little Debbie zebra cakes. I decided to coat them with white chocolate ganache instead of poured fondant because…well, it just tastes better (and reminds me of zebra cakes, an old childhood lunch favorite!).  I won’t promise you that the white chocolate was much less work than poured fondant, but the taste was worth it in the end.

Congratulations, Jessica!! I am so happy for you and wish you a lifetime of happiness! To see what other bloggers made for this special occasion check out the round-up on Nikki and Jessica’s blogs!

 

 

Foodbuzz 24×24: East Meets West

Since moving to China we have been blown away by the kindness and hospitality we have been shown. In the short time that we have lived here, we feel like we have made many life-long friends. Now that we are settled into our apartment, we wanted to have our new friends over to celebrate good friendship and our new home. An East meets West celebration.

The stars couldn’t have aligned more perfectly for this event.  First, I was excited to have my idea chosen by Foodbuzz for this months 24×24*! Second, the weekend we chose for our party also happened to be a holiday weekend in China. So, in addition to celebrating friends and home, we were celebrating Dragon Boat Festival (Duānwǔ Jié 端午节)!
 
*Each month Foodbuzz showcases 24 food bloggers as they host a meal in the same 24 hours and blog about it on the same day.

My idea for the party was to create a fusion of American/Western dishes and Chinese/Eastern dishes. I supplied all of the Western dishes and, with the help of a friend, two of the Chinese dishes. I was also delighted when guests offered to bring traditional dishes. Here’s what we came up with! Full menu listed below the photos!

The Food

 

 
 
 
The party
The guests – minus the two people who snuck past my camera!
Guests filling up their plates!
Happy to have been a part of his first chocolate chip cookie
Jesse being shown how to open the traditional Dragon Boat Festival dumpling – 粽子
Sneaking some fruit
Full bellies, enjoying the entertainment

The Menu

Veggies and Ranch Dip
Chips
Macaroni and Cheese Bites
Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies
Steamed Pork with Preserved Vegetables* 冬菜猪肉
Braised Duck in Beer* 红烧
Rice Dumplings* 粽子
 Lychee and other assorted fruits
*These items were brought by my guests (and the translation may be rough!)
I think it’s pretty safe to say that the party was a big success! I can’t wait to host my next party!

Buffalo Chicken Bites

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We landed back in San Diego late last night and I’m hoping that now that our holiday travels are coming to a close, I can get back to blogging a regular basis. More importantly I hope that I can get back in the kitchen and spend some quality time with my cutting board, skillet, and stove. 🙂

While we were in Ohio I really only had one chance to get in the kitchen and cook. I made these buffalo chicken bites for my dad’s family Christmas Eve party. I was lucky to get one decent picture before my dad swooped in and started stealing them, and they were totally gone not long after his first stolen bite.

With New Years Eve coming up and playoff/Super Bowl parties, you might find yourself looking for an appetizer, and I HIGHLY recommend these. Spicy and creamy on the inside, crispy on the outside. Also easy to grab, dunk, and eat while socializing or watching a football game. Win, win, win. And if you still need convincing, these can be made ahead of time and frozen or kept in the fridge.

Buffalo Chicken Bites

Ingredients
3 cups shredded cooked chicken (About 1 store-bought rotisserie chicken, skin discarded)
1/4 to 1/2 cup hot sauce – to taste (I used Frank’s Buffalo Sauce)
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp ranch or bleu cheese dressing
1 3/4 cups sharp or medium shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1 cup all-purpose flour*
3eggs, lightly beaten
2-3 cups Corn Flakes cereal, crushed

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl stir together the cream cheese, hot sauce, and ranch (or bleu cheese). Add the chicken, cheddar cheese, and green onions, stir to combine. For larger bites, use a medium cookie scoop to create even portions. For smaller bites roll 1 heaping tablespoon into a ball. Place the rounded portions on a cookie sheet. For easier coating, refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour.

Place the flour, egg, and crushed corn flakes in three separate bowls. Roll each ball in the flour*, shake off any excess flour and dip in the egg, then roll the ball in the cornflake crumbs until evenly coated. Place back on the cookie sheet.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Serve warm with ranch or bleu cheese dipping sauce.

The coated balls can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours or frozen for later. To freeze, place the cookie sheet in the freezer for 30 minutes. Remove from the cookie sheet and place in a freezer bag for storage. When ready to use them, place the frozen balls on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

* I TOTALLY forgot to roll mine in the flour, they still came out just fine. The purpose of the flour is to help the corn flake coating adhere a little better. It’s your call to use the flour or to omit.

Yields 2 dozen larger bites or 3 dozen smaller bites

Slightly adapted from Pennies on a Platter, originally from The Food Network and as seen on Macaroni and Cheesecake and Made by Melissa

Cheddar and Ranch Cheese Ball

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Happy Halloween! As I promised yesterday, here is the recipe for the BRAINS!! If you’re still looking for an appetizer to take to a Halloween party tonight why not give this a try? It’s super simple, tasty, and will impress/gross out all of your friends! This would also be good for non-Halloween events, just skip the brain shaping and roll into a ball and then in sliced almonds instead!

Cheddar and Ranch Cheese Ball

Ingredients
3 1/2 cups shredder cheddar cheese (I used a mix of sharp, mild, and Vermont white)
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese (optional, I skipped)
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 (1 ounce) package Ranch-style dressing mix (Hidden Valley brand)
1 cup sliced almonds (Obviously omit if you’re making the brain)
2-3 drops of black food coloring, if you want a grayish hue
3-4 drops red gel food coloring, for “blood”

Directions
Add the cheese to the bowl of food processor*. Pulse a few times for 3 seconds each. Add the cream cheese and Ranch seasoning packet and process until smooth.

To make the brain, remove half of the mixture and form an egg shaped ball, place on a plate. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip, or a ziploc bag with the corner cut, with the remainder of the mixture. Starting in the middle of the formed ball pipe a straight line length wise to the edge of the egg shape. When you reach the edge start zigzagging your way back to the middle. Repeat on the 3 parts of the egg shape. I used the picture below as a model when I piped. If you have a lot left, try piping a second layer directly over top.

Place the brain in the refrigerator for about an hour. Before serving spread red food coloring on a knife and stick it cheese ball. Serve with crackers. (The left overs were also really good spread on a bagel!)

*If you don’t have a food processor this can also be done in a bowl with just a spoon (or a hand held mixer), but the food processor does make it extra smooth for piping.

Adapted from What’s Cookin, Chicago?