Teapot Cake

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If you know me at all.. okay, maybe even a little.. you probably know that I have a thing for teacups and teapots and tea parties (of course!).   I recently threw a cousins “un birthday” party (Alice in Wonderland themed of course) and it seemed the perfect time to try making a teapot cake.  My youngest is becoming quite the kitchen helper and we made it together.  I promise it’s easy!
Here’s what I used:
Cake of choice, baked in a round bowl
Frosting
Marshmallow fondant
Tylose Powder
Martha Stewart Romantic themed silicone molds
Big Sugar Pearls (I couldn’t find these online, but I did buy them at JoAnns.  They were in a Christmas blend, red white and green, but they have other colors too).

Put a thin layer of frosting on the cake.
Roll the marshmallow fondant out.  I go for in between 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick.
Gently lay fondant over cake and smooth over sides.
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Use a knife to cut the excess off around the edge.
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Now… let’s pretend I took more pictures in the process of making it.  But I was having too much fun with a very excited 8 year old sous chef!
For the details, you’ll want to add some tylose to some marshmallow fondant.  This will harden it some so it will hold it’s shape better.  My rule is 1 tsp tylose per 1 lb of fondant.
I don’t mix up more than I’m using, so if I do 1/4 lb fondant I’ll only add 1/4 tsp tylose.
Form a handle, then using a toothpick in each end of it, insert into cake.
Now form a spout and insert with a toothpick as well.
Then for the top roll out the fondant and cut a circle out, then roll a ball for the top.  Put a toothpick through all into the cake.
Form 2 hearts out of red using a mold (or decorate some other way).  Use a dab of frosting to glue one on each side.
Add a small line of frosting around the base of the cake and also the lid.  Add the sugar pearls.
For the rose on top I used this method here (You basically overlap circles, roll it up, then cut in half to get 2 roses).
I used a dab of frosting to “glue” it to the top.
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That little rose makes my heart happy! :)
And done!
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Mary Poppins Themed Party

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My oldest turned 12 and is OBSESSED with Mary Poppins.  Some may say that’s because she has Autism.. but I think she’s just more in tune with what awesome is. :D
We had a whole Mary Poppins themed party, it was so fun!
I made her a carpet bag, hat, and costume, and a sweet friend made her the scarf.  The gloves were a thrift shop lucky find.
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A sweet friend bought her the umbrella and it made her over the moon happy.  She wears this costume all the time now!  The dress was made from an old shirt, I added a red elastic waistband, blue skirt, and red bow.  We found the hat for Daddy’s chimney sweep costume at Target.  He still has to learn the chimney sweep dance routine. ;)
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“17 Cherry Tree Lane Cherry Limeade” for the drink, my recipe is here.
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Pic Nik Shoestring potatoes for “Fiddlesticks” :)  My favorite movie quote of all time “Fiddlesticks, boy!  Feed the birds and what have you got? Fat birds!”
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I HAD to make something for spoonfulls of sugar.  At first I thought I’d just put a dollop of frosting on some small spoons but I had sugar cookie dough left and thought of this.
So glad I did, they were so cute!  I just traced a small spoon (you can buy cookie cutters in spoon shapes too).  I used a small rolled up piece of foil under my silicone baking mat so the spoons would be curved… but many of them broke after cooling.  Next time I would just make them flat.  Piped a dollop of frosting on the spoon and sprinkled with sanding sugar!
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For the sugar cookies I made cherries, hats (using sprinkles for the decorations), daisies, and a waiter penguin.
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I am not the best at decorating sugar cookies, but I was pretty happy with how theses came out!
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I figured we shouldn’t have ALL sweets so I made kite PB sandwiches (twizzlers pull and peel licorice for the kite strings) and the umbrellas are made from babybel cheese cut in half and a cut down bendable black straw for the handle.
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My daughter LOVES a special little candy shop in Portland, Candy Babel, so we had some of her sweets at the party.  Licorice scottie dogs to represent Andrew (The little dog in the movie), gold coins for tuppence, gummy cherries, and gummy peach penguins.
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Chimney soot treat bars and chimney sweeps, recipes here.
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I made a little kite for the top of her cake with green paper , bendable gold ribbon, and washi tape for edge.  I used twizzlers pull and peel for the red stripes, and used marshmallow fondant for the cherries (with this martha stewart mold) and also cut out letters from it to spell supercalifragilisticexpialidocious around the top.
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I made the cake really small, so I made some mini cupcakes to go with it.  The daisies were made with a tiny daisy cutter I have, and a mini candy chip in the center.
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For the activity we made “stained glass kites”.
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You’ll need:
Contact paper
Black construction paper or cardstock, cut in kite shapes and straight strips
Twine
Tissue paper squares
Glitter and sequins, optional
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They place the kite shape on contact paper, then make the cross strips if they want, then sequins and glitter, then fill with tissue.
Top with another piece of contact paper, trim edges, and add a string.  Hang in the window.
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Other activity ideas:

Feed the birds: Make peanut butter pine cone bird feeders.  Tie twine around a pinecone so you can hang it.  Spread it with peanut butter and roll in birdseed.

Chalk drawings: This buttermilk chalk painting is SO fun for kids!… okay, adults too! I totally do it with my girls every time.

Visit a carousel.

Other refreshment ideas: 

Cotton candy “London fog” or “chimney smoke”

Candy Apples (like Jane and Michael have at the horse race)

Tea sandwiches.. you could even do a whole tea party theme, go with the Tea party on the ceiling.

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This girl was soooo happy to have a Mary Poppins party and we all had so much fun!

I made the invites, pretty simple, but cute:
The front:
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And the inside:
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Chimney Soot Treat Bars and Chimney Sweeps

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We recently had a Mary Poppins themed party for our daughter who is OBSESSED with the Mary Poppins.
My hubby even dressed up like a chimney sweep so I thought I better come up with some cute treats.  The kids loved them, plus they were so quick and easy!


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CHIMNEY SOOT TREAT BARS

3 T butter
4 cups mini marshmallows, or 10 oz (about 40) large
5 cups cocoa krispies
1 cup chopped oreos (or another cup cocoa krispies)
black food coloring, optional

Melt butter in a large pot on low heat.  Add marshmallows, stir until combined and melted.
Remove from heat, stir in cereal until well coated.  Spray a 9 inch square pan and use a sprayed spatula to spread mixture in pan.
Cut into squares and insert a stick in each (optional).

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CHIMNEY SWEEPS

Black candy melts (or dark chocolate), melted
Black sprinkles, optional
Pretzel rods

Line a tray with waxed paper.  Using a knife to spread, or fill a paper cone with melted candy melts or chocolate, make an asterisks type shape (don’t worry about being too perfect!)
Sprinkle with sprinkles, if using.  make a few extra since some might break.
Next, dip half of the pretzel rods into melts and set on wax paper to dry.  After both are set, put a little melted candy melt on top of the pretzel rod and place an asterisks on top.
I had a container filled with cocoa krispies to serve them in so I place them in this so they could dry upright.  You could also use a container of dry rice or beans or whatever.
I wrapped the container with paper with a chimney design on it for serving.

Cherry Limeade

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I have a weakness for fresh cherries.  Luckily for me, they are everywhere this time of year here in the pacific northwest.  Plus, since they are grown locally we can get them super fresh.  This recipe can be used with frozen cherries just as easily though, so it will turn out great if that’s all you have as well.  If you do use frozen just let them thaw for a bit first so they blend easier.  I didn’t write in how much water to add to it because I don’t like drinks too sweet, so I don’t add as much syrup as some would.  A nice way to serve drinks is to leave the syrup separate and have cold water or club soda and let everyone mix their own cup to their liking.

I made it for my daughter’s Mary Poppins birthday party recently (hence the cherry tree lane sign and lack of better picture…) but I’m sure we’ll be having it often!

CHERRY LIMEADE

5 cups fresh or frozen cherries, pitted
1 1/2 cups lime juice
1 1/2 cups sugar

Puree in a blender until smooth.  Strain if desired. (My vitamix gets it pretty darn smooth so I don’t.)
Refrigerate until ready to use, then add water or club soda for a sparking limeade.

Oven Fried Cauliflower

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I love these cauliflower poppers I made awhile back but since I don’t fry food that often I had to try this baked cauliflower I found on pinterest.  Of course, I had to change it up since we don’t like super spicy food, and I wanted it to be something the kids would eat too.  Oh, yum.  I could eat a plate of these for dinner and nothing else.  Even my hubby, who despises cauliflower ate seconds.  Super quick and easy and yum!  Next time I’ll be making my roasted kale chipotle dip to serve with them.

OVEN FRIED CAULIFLOWER

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets

Batter:
1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup water
dash Frank’s hot sauce (or your favorite)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp dried onion powder (I only use Penzey’s toasted onion powder!)

Coating:
2 T melted unsalted butter
dash hot sauce (more for spicier)
pinch smoked paprika
salt to taste

Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with non stick coating.
Whisk together batter ingredients in a large bowl until smooth.
Add all the florets and toss with a spoon or spatula until they are all coated.  (You should have the batter coating the florets without a lot of excess.)
Pour out onto baking sheet and spread out in a single layer. (If you had excess batter, remove the florets by hand so you don’t have a lot of extra batter on the baking sheet.)
Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, mix together the coating ingredients.
Brush the cauliflower with coating and return to the oven for 5-8 minutes.  Cauliflower should be crispy.
Serve immediately with dipping sauce, if desired.

Recipe adapted from Persnickety Plates

Roasted Beet Salad with Beet Greens and Feta

Beets and feta.   I’m kind of addicted to the combination.  I think it’s the sweetness of beets with the salty briny flavor of feta that makes it so good.  If you haven’t tried it before you have to.
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The greens will wilt up to much less than you thought, so if you want more greens in the salad I would add in some kale or other sturdy green and saute with the beet greens.
And if you don’t like/have feta, it’s still delicious without it. :)   You could totally do a citrus vinaigrette on this as well, but beet and beet greens are really flavorful and I think a simple olive oil and balsamic dressing is perfect for them.
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ROASTED BEET SALAD WITH BEET GREENS AND FETA

2 bunches beets with greens attached
Olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and Pepper
Feta cheese, crumbled
Balsamic vinegar (blackberry balsamic is my favorite!)
Sunflower seeds

Trim and peel beets.  Cut into quarters, then each quarter in half, so you have 8 skinny wedges per beet.
Toss with a drizzle of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Spread out in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast at 425 degrees for about 25 minutes or until golden and cooked through.
About 5 minutes before they are done start on the greens.  Trim out the stem from the greens and cut into 1/2 inch strips.
Heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium high heat in a skillet.  Add garlic and cook until just starting to become fragrant.  Add greens and toss in skillet, cooking for just a couple minutes until wilted.
Put the greens in the serving dish and top with roasted beets, feta, and sunflower seeds.  Serve with balsamic vinegar.

BBQ Bacon Burgers

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Not going to lie.  I could barely eat half of one of these.  Next time I might make them slider style.  My hubby had no problems polishing one off though.
My Dad couldn’t cook many things but he was the grill master at our house.  Summers were BBQ season at our house when I was a kid.  We didn’t have AC and if it was hot out he would grill dinner to keep the house cooler.  So I always feel like making BBQ food when the weather starts to warm up.  These are over the top burgers, great to make for Father’s day or a BBQ.
There is a trick to making the onion strings I’m going to share with you.  After you coat the onion rings in the buttermilk and seasoned flour let them rest for a bit on a tray.  The buttermilk starts to absorb the flour a little bit and you’ll get a better crunch.

BBQ BACON BURGERS

Green leaf lettuce
Sharp cheddar
BBQ Sauce
Onion strings (See recipe at end)
Hamburgers, grilled, or cooked in an iron skillet
Bacon, cooked crisp (Homemade for extra points!) :)
Hamburger Buns (Homemade for even more extra points!)

Form 1/4 to 1/3 lb ground beef into a patty, making an indent in the center of the patty.  Cook on a grill or in a cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Flip after a few minutes, when the first side is well browned.  After a couple minutes on the second side top with cheese and cover to melt.  Make sure to lightly butter the inside of the buns and toast in a skillet.  I usually do this before cooking the hamburgers and then set aside while the hamburgers cook.

For the onion strings:
1 onion, thinly sliced (white or yellow is fine)
2 cups buttermilk
2 cups flour
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
Oil, for cooking

Pour buttermilk over the onions rings and toss to coat well.   Combine the flour and seasonings in a shallow bowl.  Take a small handful of onion rings and coat in the seasoned flour, shaking off excess.  Place on a tray while you repeat with remaining onions.  Set aside while you heat a couple inches of oil over medium heat (or use a deep fryer).
Cook in batches until golden brown.  Place on a wire rack over a baking sheet when cooked, repeating with the rest.

DIY Bagel Dogs

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I have a secret to tell you… soft pretzels and bagels.. basically the same thing, just in a different shape.  Honest.  I have another secret.  Bagel dogs are the secret to a happy life.  Well, happy kids and that’s basically the same thing. ;)  I keep my freezer stocked with these at all times and they are a total life saver for crazy days when you need something quick for the kids (okay, some adults too).  When we have company over for dinner, no matter how nice of a meal it is, I will have some of these out for the kids too.  Often times kids won’t want to eat something new, especially when they are having fun playing at a friends house.  They are super easy and way better than what you’d get at the store.  Best part is you control the hot dog component so if you want them to be organic, chicken, turkey, heck even vegan, you can do that.  This dough is the same as the soft pretzel dough so you can even make some of each.  I usually make a double batch, and make half into bagel dogs, and the other half into soft pretzels.
Now let’s make some!
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DIY BAGEL DOGS

For the dough:
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 T sugar
2 tsp kosher salt
1 pkg active dry yeast
4 1/2 cups flour
2 oz butter, melted

10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
egg wash (1 egg yolk mixed with 1 T water)
pretzel salt, optional
24 hot dogs

Combine all the dough ingredients in the bowl of a standing mixer (you could mix this by hand as well of course).
Mix until dough pulls away from the side of the bowl.
Place in an oiled bowl and cover for 1 hour.
Heat oven to 450 degrees and bring the water to a boil with the baking soda (A wider pot will come in handy here too).  While the water is heating form the bagel dogs.
Divide the dough into half, then each half into 12 equal pieces.  For each piece of dough stretch into a rectangle and shape around the hot dog, leaving the ends exposed, and pinching well to fuse the dough together, making sure the dough is snug around the hot dog.
Place on a greased baking sheet and repeat with remaining hot dogs and dough.  (I used 2 baking sheets)
Working with a few at a time (I use a big pot so I can fit about 6, just make sure they have room and are single layer) place in the boiling soda water bath for 30 seconds.
Remove with a slotted spoon and place back on the baking sheet, leaving some room around each one.
Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with pretzel salt if using.  Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until golden brown.

To freeze, cool first then place in freezer bags or containers.  I’ve never flash frozen these and have never had them stick together.  Reheat in oven or microwave.

Strawberry Honey Cream Soda

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We are having an early strawberry season this year, and nothing makes me love living in the Pacific Northwest more than fresh berries! :)  Okay, there’s a few other reasons too.  But we are seriously spoiled when it comes to berries.  I’m not a fan of soda, but homemade sodas are a different story all together.  This one tastes like summer in a glass.  Honey and strawberries go so well together, it reminds me of this amazing cheesecake.   It’s super fast, and while I haven’t made it with frozen berries yet they should work just fine as well.  Just thaw them first.   There is no sugar in this, so it isn’t overly sweet, and of course you should adjust the honey depending on the sweetness of your berries and how sweet you want it.  I don’t like super sweet drinks so sometimes I use even less honey.  Happy (almost) summer!

STRAWBERRY HONEY CREAM SODA

1 pint strawberries, washed and hulled
1/2 cup milk (I use fat free, but any is fine)
1/4 cup honey (more or less to taste)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Seltzer water, to serve

Combine the strawberries, milk, honey, and vanilla in a blender and puree until smooth.  Strain if desired to remove the strawberry seeds.
To serve put about 1/3 cup puree in a glass and pour about 1 cup seltzer water over puree.  Refrigerate remaining puree.  Will keep a couple days in fridge.

Recipe adapted from Homemade Soda by Andrew Schloss

Favorite Places: Art Ala Carte

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My youngest loves anything… anything involving art.   Especially when she isn’t instructed and can just be free to have fun.  Enter her mothership: Art Ala Carte.

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It was created in 2012 by this genius, Aria Leighty.  The Vancouver location is newer, but there’s a Portland one as well that’s been around longer.  The Vancouver location is getting a bigger store soon (yay!)  and we are excited to see what they do with more space.
Basically how it works is your kid gets a tray and goes down the “art bar” and picks out what weird odds and ends (they take donations of all kinds, plus you get a discount for bringing a donation!) and art supplies.  Then they go to a table and create!  The first time we went I whispered to my daughter “Lucy… do you really need all those pipe cleaners?  Save some for the other kids.”
Then about 5 minutes later an employee came up to her with a pile of more pipe cleaners.. “I found more for you!” :)
Kids are free to create, find their own voice, glitter and all.
The open studio is open tomorrow so send your hubby and kids to create something for you for Mother’s Day and they can leave the mess behind!
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Art Ala Carte Vancouver is located at 5305 NE 121st Ave Unit #306 Vancouver, WA

 

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