August 5th, 2009 |

Playdate Playdough

playdate playdough

Playdate activities….it’s always an endless search for something new and exciting that will keep the children occupied long enough for the mothers to enjoy a cup of coffee!

Playdough.  It’s an activity that all kids enjoy.  But spice it up a bit.  Make playdough cookies!

Same concept: make a batch of dough, dye it different colors, and let the kids build shapes with it.  The only difference, is that you bake the shapes and voila!  Not only did the kids have fun, but you have colorful cookies to enjoy as a treat!

This would make a great activity for a child’s birthday party, too!

Play Dough Cookies

The original recipe proposes cookies in lollipop form, but have your kids get creative and create cookies in all different shapes. Just be careful to bake similar sized cookies at a time. Besides their super cute looks, these really delivered tastewise – they are sugar cookies after all, with a pleasent crumbly texture from the cream cheese.

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • assorted colors of paste food coloring
  • 24 lollipop sticks (optional)

  1. In the electric mixer, cream butter, cream cheese and sugar until  light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; beat until smooth.
  2. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture. Stir till soft dough forms. Divide dough into fourths. Tint each with a different food color. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Working with half of each color, shape dough into 3/4 inch balls and for each cookie place 1 pink, 1 green, 1 blue and 1 orange (I used red, yellow, blue and green) ball together to make 1 large ball. Shape into a 12 inch long roll (like a snake), starting at one end, coil roll to make a 2 3/4 inch round cookie. Place cookies 3 inches apart on lightly greased baking sheet. Carefully insert lollipop sticks into bottoms of cookies.
  4. Bake cookies for 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool and store in an airtight container.

Recipe via The Cookieshop in English

Back to School at The Land of Nod

August 1st, 2009 |

Edible Cocktail: Sangria

Edible Cocktail Sangria

I found these delicious looking treats over at Big Red Kitchen.  Edible cocktails.  Jello shots.  Whatever you want to call them, they are so fun….I must try them at my next party!  Festive, colorful, and perfect for an evening of outdoor entertaining.  I bet a few of your guests may even squeal with delight when they see them as they recall the jello shots of their past.  Don’t let these childhood-like treats fool you, they have a bite and will sneak up on you if you have a few too many.

Edible Cocktails: Sangria
1 3/4 cups Reál Sangria
1 1/2 cups Limeade
3/4 cup Cointreau
4 packets Knox Gelatine – one whole box
zest of one lime for garnish

Mix the first 3 ingredients in a small sauce pan. Add Knox and let sit 3 minutes until gel softens. Turn on heat to medium and heat for a few minutes until gel is completely dissolved, no need to boil or get very hot. Pour into a 9 inch square pan that has been lined with plastic wrap. Chill covered overnight. To unmold, turn cocktail over onto a cutting board, remove plastic wrap and cut into 36 equal sized pieces. Top each piece with a small bit of lime zest. Place on pretty tray and serve immediately. Makes 36 pieces.

Tips on Making Edible Cocktails
1. Before adding the Gelatine, taste the cocktail first and adjust flavor if needed.
2. Keep chilled at all times! These will dissolve into puddles if not kept cold. Mine got soft on the car ride over to the party, which a quick trip to the freezer fixed them up just fine, but oh the puddle they made in my lap on the warm car ride home!
3. Remember the ratio to turn your favorite cocktail into an Edible Cocktail- one packet (7 grams) Knox Gelatine to every 8 ounces (240 ml) of fluid. More Gelatine will make the cocktails even more firm if necessary.

Be creative and have fun!

July 29th, 2009 |

Summer Cocktail: Orange Spritzer

Orange Spritzer

Here’s a fabulous spritzer that’s great for a warm afternoon spent picnicking on the grass. Make it with either orange juice as directed, or with frozen lemonade.

  • 1 cup Campari
  • 1 liter mineral water
  • 2 cans frozen orange juice concentrate
  • orange slices

Mix all ingredients in a pitcher and serve over ice. Makes 12 servings.

Recipe via Bloom.acious

July 27th, 2009 |

Dessert: Make-Your-Own-Tart Bar

make your own tartIt’s no secret that I absolutely L-O-V-E dessert!  Chocolate, cookies, candy…..and tarts……lots, and lots of tarts!  So I am pretty much obsessed with this idea….I can’t wait to have a party just to try it out!

Instead of making one large tart to serve as dessert to your guests, set up a “make-your-own-tart” dessert bar.

What type of ingredients should you use, you ask?!  Well…here are my thoughts:

  • Mini Tart Shells (store-bought or homemade)
  • Lemon Curd
  • Whipped Cream
  • Sliced Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blueberries

This is a perfect after-dinner activity + dessert rolled into one…enjoy!

Image via Rachael Ray

July 24th, 2009 |

Marshmallow Fondue

marshmellow fondue

Try this idea at your next party…..marshmallow fondue!

Perfect for kids, fun for adults!  All you need is a bowl of melted chocolate, a bag of marshmallows, and a bunch of sprinkles for toppings!

Image (via inmagine.com)

July 22nd, 2009 |

Summer Appetizer: Zucchini Roll-Ups

zucchini roll-ups

Have I ever told you that I absolutely LOVE zucchini?  It is one of those foods that I discovered late in life (like, last year!?!) and now I just can’t get enough of it!  My husband isn’t a fan….which means I am constantly trying to slip it into dishes like risotto, vegetable tians, etc. in hopes that he doesn’t realize it until it’s already in his mouth.  This yummy treat would be a perfect appetizer for an alfresco dinner this summer!

Grilled Zucchini Roll-Ups with Herbs and Cheese

Ingredients

  • 3 small zucchini (about 1/2 pound each), cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/16 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1 1/2 ounces fresh goat cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 ounces bagged baby spinach (2 cups lightly packed)
  • 1/3 cup basil leaves

Preparation

1. Preheat grill or grill pan to medium.

2. Discard the outermost slices of zucchini; brush the rest with oil on both sides. Sprinkle the zucchini slices with salt and pepper. Grill until tender, about 4 minutes per side. You can prepare the zucchini a day ahead and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

3. In a small bowl, combine the goat cheese, parsley, and lemon juice, mashing together with a fork.

4. Put 1/2 teaspoon of the cheese mixture about 1/2 inch from the end of a zucchini slice. Top with a few spinach leaves and a small (or half of a large) basil leaf. Roll up and place seam side down on a platter. Repeat with remaining zucchini slices. You can make these up to a day in advance; store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

recipe via health.com

July 21st, 2009 |

Sailboat Cupcakes

Sailboat Cupcakes

We celebrated my sister’s boyfriend’s birthday Saturday night by cruising around Chicago on a boat.  Since the party had a boating theme, the sailboat cupcake seemed to be the perfect dessert!  They turned out so cute, I just had to share them with you!

These would be perfect for the Sail Away children’s birthday party theme I posted a couple of weeks ago!

If anyone is interested in the template for the sails, send me over an e-mail and I will happily give it to you!

July 20th, 2009 |

Summer Pasta!

corn and tomato pasta

This pasta recipe from Rachael Ray just looked a little too good not to share with you!  Perfect for a summer party….or just a Monday night dinner!

Ingredients

  • Salt
  • 1 pound bow-tie pasta
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 3 ears fresh corn, kernels cut off
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces

Dress it up!
Give this pasta a fancy twist by tossing in cooked lobster or shrimp.

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente; drain.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the corn, raise the heat slightly and cook until the corn is heated through and golden, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt.
  3. Add the vegetables, butter and basil to the pasta and toss.
July 16th, 2009 |

Cocktail Party with Rustic Charm

Rustic Charm (small)

Whether you are celebrating a 20th anniversary or the recent engagement of good friends, invite people over to celebrate the occasion with drinks and appetizers – all styled with rustic charm!  I am in love with this invitation from Minted…it’s half modern, half vintage, and completely charming!

Style the location of your party with a natural feel, using a rustic yellow, green and rust orange as a color palette.  Place a couple of different centerpieces around the party to vary the look.  First, fill a basket up with moss stones and votive candles. And second, place grass plants in small terracotta pots and wrap a decorative ribbon around it.  If you have a trellis or trees above your serving table, hang some votive candles to add a little sparkle to the evening.

Serve your appetizers on serving pieces such as slabs of wood or slate, and in baskets.  Look for some hearty appetizers such as pancetta-wrapped asparagus with citronette dressing, grilled zucchini with fresh mozzarella, and  fig and goat cheese crostini.  In addition to wine, serve a tasty, signature cocktail such as blackberry and cabernet caipirinha.

Images: patio (countryliving.com), invitation (minted.com), grass centerpiece (oncewed.com)

July 16th, 2009 |

Cocktail Party: Appetizers with Ease!

Appetizers with ease

Williams Sonoma is the genius behind this idea (perfect for your next cocktail party!).  These small plates have a base rim that fits on top of most wineglasses, allowing your guests to hold their wine and hors d’oeuvres securely in one hand.  Sold in a set of 4 for only $19.00!

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