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!

Foodbuzz 24×24: Boo-tiful Cookie Decorating

>If you ask me in November what my favorite holiday is, I’ll probably say Thanksgiving. Ask me again in December and I’ll probably say Christmas. And if you ask me right now, I’ll say Halloween. What can I say? I just like holidays and all of the festive things that go along with them. Right now black cats, ghosts, zombies, and sweet treats are putting me in the holiday spirit. So when Foodbuzz put out the call for fall-inspired ideas for this month’s 24×24*, a lightbulb went off.

*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 was to host a cookie decorating party – for kids. The girls that I watch were each allowed to invite a few friends and as soon as the invitations were delivered we started the party planning.


Coming up with the menu was pretty fun. I had about a million ideas for fun gross variations of food. But at the end of the day I had to keep in mind my audience so I needed to keep it simple. Oh, and I am apparently no good at making deviled eggs, so at the last minute I had to give up my dreams of creepy eyeballs.

First up was the main course. Mummy calzones. Each one was filled with cheese and pepperoni and then finished with a green olive eye. Most of the girls didn’t eat the “eye” but they loved the rest of it!



Next up was the “Bone Crunch” or popcorn. Not homemade, but I knew the girls would like something simple to munch on while they worked their cookie magic.


Despite the fact that some of the girls were a little afraid of eating the brain, it was a big hit! Everyone that tried it loved the flavor and EVERYONE loved the way it looked. The “brain” is just a cheddar cheese and ranch cheese ball that I piped into the shape of a brain. *recipe to be shared on Halloween day!!



For dessert I made “Graveyard Cups”. Super simple but a pretty fun effect. Just yellow cupcakes, and frosting, with crushed Oreos for dirt and a Milano cookie for a tombstone.


To drink I once again kept it simple with a jazzed up lemonade. The night before I filled 2 rubber gloves with water and red food coloring, then I tied them up and put them in the freezer. Right before the party started I cut the glove away from the hand shaped ice and added it to the bowl of lemonade. Two things to note about this: First the red food coloring dyed the heck out of my hands as I was cutting away the glove. Maybe wearing gloves while cutting the glove would be a good idea. Second, I wanted a “mangled hand” effect so I froze it with some folds and that made the fingers weak. As soon as the glove was cut away the fingers fell off. Still fun though.


I set the mood with a black and purple spider theme and Halloween music playing in the background. I also made Halloween themed signs with each spooky food name (and what it really was below in parenthesis).



Finally, the main attraction! The cookies!!! I made 5 different shapes; cats, owls, ghosts, pumpkins and circles for spiderwebs/spiders. In another post I’ll be sharing how I planned and spread out the work, but for now how about some pictures of the girls working on their masterpieces? It’s fun to see how creative kids get. Purple pumpkin – of course! Pirate spider – you bet! Polka dotted cat – well yeah!


The masterpieces!

I asked each girl to pick their favorite creation and these are the winners!


The aftermath