Saturday, January 14, 2012

Fairy Magic!

Yesterday, we enjoyed a little fairy magic. It wasn’t really a party—just a pixie-sized play date that my first grader and her BFF dreamed up last summer. Since it took six whole months for their “fairy godmothers” to get it together and actually hold the play date, we sprinkled on a little pixie dust and made it extra magical.

We were firmly committed to not spending too much money. Much like fairies, we used a lot of found objects and left-over items from the girls’ real parties. My Passover décor is very natural and Springy; it made a perfect fairy garden. We picked pine cones, sticks, and other natural elements and used lots of stuff we found around our houses. We added a few dollar store wings and Sam's cupcakes. Of course, it is easy to do that when you a) have a huge arsenal of supplies from past parties and, b) have Pinterest giving you so many precious ideas!

We sent a digital invitation so it wouldn’t seem as formal as a real party.

When the girls arrived, they selected fairy names from envelopes that contained first, middle and last names to create fun combinations. This, in turn, determined what kind of talent each fairy would have, her wing color, seat assignment, and her team for the scavenger hunt. My little cuties ended up being Tulip Fern Bud (a garden talent), and Ladybug Feather Den (an animal talent):

Each girl wore her fairy nametag as we proceeded to feast on Magic wands (pretzel rods dipped in chocolate and sprinkles), Toadstool cupcakes, Strawberries, and Fairy Punch:

The adorable home-tree was crafted from cardboard boxes by the little hostesses (with help from the fairy godmothers). Plans for a similar cardboard tree-house are available on Disney’s Family Fun website.

As the girls ate, we talked about fairy lore and why each girl believed in fairies. The girls then went on a scavenger hunt that matched their talent (Light fairies’ clues were in the fireplace, lamp, and under light fixtures, while garden talents were directed to various potted plants). Along the way, they spotted some real fairy dust! With each clue, the girls got elements that would attract fairies to their own fairy gardens:

When the girls got back from the scavenger hunt, they got very busy making mason-jar fairy gardens, complete with adorable cardboard houses (cut on my Silhouette):

The day concluded with face-painting and, of course, some good old play. After all, it was just an ordinary play date! The total cost was around $40 (and I’ll need new mason jars when I put up the garden next year), but the afternoon was priceless.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


I turned cotton candy cones leftover from a Sweet Shoppe Party, seen here:

Into This:

Reusing what you already have? Now that's sweet!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Recipe Recap--Delicious Desserts

I used this recipe at our holiday gathering and it was awesome, so I wanted to repost with credit to its owner:

We also had my old standby Mini Cheesecakes from a Memphis Les Passees Cookbook:
24 Ounces soften cream cheese, 1 1/4 cups white sugar, divided, 5 eggs, 1 cup sour cream, 2 teaspoons of vanilla and preserves or pie filling. Mix together cream cheese, eggs, one cup of the sugar,and 1 teaspoon on the vanilla with an electric mixer. Pour into small foil cups and bake on a cookie sheet at 300 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Mix the remaining vanilla and sugar with the sour cream. Top the cheesecakes with this mixture and bake 5 more minutes to set. At this point you can either top with preserves/pie filling and serve or freeze. If yuo freeze add the preserves when you are ready to serve. This is a great make-ahead dish!!!!

This year we also added mini parfaits to our line-up. They were the true stars of the show, and were made from nothing more than a bunch of pudding mixes, whipped cream and crushed up stuff. My four and six year olds helped. It was the awesome serving cups that gave them the wow factor. I got them at Smarty Had a Party :
I filled them with the following:
Shooters (the adorable cups from make these awesome)
1. S’mores: Crushed grahams, choclate pudding, marshmallow cream, and mini chocolate chips/marsh on top
2. Grasshopper—crushed thin mints- chocolate mousse with drop of mint extract, , fresh whipped cream, and andes pieces on top
3. Banana pudding—graham cracker crumbs , banana slices, 'Nana pudding, real whipped cream, with a few more graham crumbs sprinkled on top.

Elegant Appetizzers

I am a big fan of pairing the formality of food with the formality of the affair. When I am having a grown-up cocktail party, here are four of my favorite canapes:

1. Fricco (Parmesan Crisps) with Goat Cheese Mousse

Heat a non-stick skillet to medium-high heat, drop parmesan cheese onto the skillet by rounded tablespoonfuls. Let the cheese melt and then slightly brown on the first side (better a little brown so let it cook –don’t be scared). Flip—when the second side is finished, drape over a small inverted muffin tin or shot glasses. Cups will keep two days in airtight container. Fill with salad or whatever. In this case, I used goat cheese mousse: 6 ounces soft goat cheese, 1/4 cup heavy cream, herbs, salt, pepper.

2. Gazpacho shooter with smoked shrimp

(I roughly used Ina Garten's recipe but just sort of used whatever ingredients I could get from Sam's.)
Roma Tomatoes (big package from Sam’s)
A red onion
1 English cucumber, halved and seeded, but not peeled
2 jalapeno cored and seeded
Garlic (again from Sam’s), Lemon Juice, kosher salt and pepper to taste

Roughly chop the cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, and red onions and put in blender and pulse until it is smooth, reserving some vegetables to finely chop. Mix puree and finely chopped vegetable in a large pitcher and add the garlic, lemon juice salt, and pepper. Mix well and chill before serving. The longer gazpacho sits, the more the flavors develop. Turns out my smoked shrimp from the trial run weren’t that smoky, so I just used boiled.

Tuna Tartare on Wonton Square

1 tablespoon of vegetable oil or Pam
12 wonton wrappers, cut into quarters
10 ounces of sashimi-quality tuna, diced into 1/8-inch pieces and chilled
3 tablespoons of chopped green onions (green only)
3 tablespoons of pine nuts
1 tablespoon soy sauce,
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
1 ½ teaspoons of chopped jalapeños with the seeds removed
1 teaspoon of grated and peeled fresh ginger
Toast wonton quarters, brushed with oil or Pam in oven at 375—goes quickly—these can be saved for later in a ziplock. Mix all other ingredients and top wontons—serve ASAP! Can make cups Thursday

4. Hot Dates--wish I had a picture, but they flew off the plate!
Bacon-Wrapped Dates: (combination of I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook Recipe and one from Martha Stewart Living)
• Pitted dates (we use the TJ's fresh packages)
• Marcona Almonds (again TJ's)
• Manchago Cheese
• Good-quality bacon, halved crosswise
1. Remove Pits from dates,
2. Stuff each date with and almond and a small piece of cheese.
3. Lay a stuffed date on top of each bacon slice; wrap to enclose. If not using immediately, freeze up to 1 month. (which we did)
4. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and cook at 400 degrees. Bake until bacon is crisp, about 10 minutes, flipping each wrapped date after 8 minutes. If frozen, bake at 400 degrees.for 10 minutes; flip, and bake 10 minutes more. Transfer wrapped dates to paper towels to drain. Serve with toothpicks. I never flipped!

Pinterest is My Friend-terest!

In 2011, I used a new tool (aka: my new bestie), Pinterest, to make my peacock party even pluckier. If you aren't using Pinteret, you totally should. Here is why: it is a great time-saver for planning. I admit, it can also be a fun time-suck...But once you really get down to planning it can save you time and money. I used it to pull together my old favorite ideas (fricco cups, tuna tartare on wonton squares, hot dates, tenderloin, and latkes) all in one place. My recipes were right at hand and I could see how they all looked together on a virtual buffet. Then, I saw what was missing and asked a few new friends to the party (peanut butter pretzel balls and mini-parfaits anyone?). I knew up front that they would go well and look great together because I could actually see it. Same for my beloved peacocks--I have always loved them but now they live in glittered branches. Glittered. People. I love pinterest so much that I have to decide what to give it for Valentine's Day next month. Bet I know where I can get some ideas!
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