Thursday, March 27, 2014

Cute Bowling Party Ideas

 
Anyone who has ever hosted a sleepover party for a dozen 10-year old girls knows this: 
A bowling party is SO MUCH BETTER!
 
When Arielle turned 11, we invited her friends to some Friday Night Bowling.
 
Advantages:
  • No need to clean the house
  • 16 friends is not a crowd!
  • Easy cleanup!
  • Mom gets a good night's sleep
  • Everyone has fun!
  • Add a few cute details and you still qualify for the cool mom award! 

 
First Thing:  Make some cute iron-on bowling T's.
Matching T-shirts are great for crowd control AND the girls loved them!
 

Michael's is a great resource for inexpensive T's. I downloaded this cute bowling design from Scrapendipity Designs on Etsy.  The design cost only $2.50 and I was able to fit two images on each iron-on transfer sheet.


I ordered these "Bowling Ball" Cupcakes from our local bakery, but you could easily make them yourself.  Chocolate cupcakes with chocolate icing dipped in chocolate sprinkles.  Mmmmm. I do love chocolate.  White icing creates finger holes for the bowling ball.  How simple is that?

 
White dots from an office supply store transform black balloons into bowling balls!
 
 
For party favors, glass milk bottles from Michael's are a ringer for bowling pins with the addition of a little red tape, Fill them with hot chocolate mix and lots of marshmallows!


What better way to transport them than in a milk crate!
 
 
All in all, I'd say it was a strikingly good birthday!


Monday, March 17, 2014

The Annual Green Lunch



The St. Patrick's Day "Green Lunch" started as a family tradition many years ago when the kids were little and we lived in Atlanta. #momhumor.  I made sure that I was on school lunch duty when they first opened their "all green" lunch.  I couldn't stop laughing. Tears streamed down my face when I saw their puzzled expressions. #ithinki'mfunnierthanireallyam. The big surprise came only once, but even now they still remind me, "You're going to pack us a green lunch on St. Patrick's Day, right?" #familytraditionsrock.


Happy St. Patrick's Day!

xo
Rachel

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Pineapple Upside Down Cake


Life is full of surprises. Like when my 11-year old chose Pineapple Upside-Down Cake for her birthday this week. It's not your typical kid birthday cake fare.  Where's the chocolate?  Where's the sprinkles? Where's the purple dinosaur? Oh, wait. She's 11. Nevermind.

Perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised.  I'm pretty sure she came out of my womb as a full-fledged 13-year old. She had attitude. She had style. We ate Chinese food together. Why wouldn't she want a grown-up, retro-inspired piece of the past?


I found this particular recipe by Paula Deen and I have to say, it had me at buttermilk. In my opinion, any baked good recipe containing buttermilk is a guaranteed winner. Despite growing up in a family that avoided butter, eggs and any other type of saturated fat at any cost, I followed (most of) the recipe. Do you see that brilliant yellow color?  That's from 2 sticks of butter and five eggs. Sigh. It really is the most delicious thing.



After creaming all the good stuff together, alternate the buttermilk and the flour mixture.


 This keeps things from getting too lumpy.


Once your batter is complete, prepare the pan.  First with non-stick spray and flour. Then with brown sugar (I used less than the original recipe.) Then with more butter.



Next comes the fun part - making that beautiful pineapple design.


 Top the bottom (or is it the top?) with the batter, half in each pan.
Another tip:  Bake the cakes on a jelly roll pan so that when if they bubble over, your oven doesn't billow with smoke from the sugary pineapple juices that have turned into a black, solid crust on the bottom of the oven. Ahem.


After the cakes have cooled for roughly 20 minutes, invert them on a serving platter, stacked two high.  I like to put parchment around the edges to keep the platter clean while I frost.  But that's just me.


Frost with Pineapple Cream Cheese Frosting.  Yes, I even found a way to get my favorite cream cheese frosting onto pineapple upside down cake.

I have to admit.  
Even in the year 2014, rings of pineapple with maraschino cherry centers is still a beautiful thing!



Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
Adapted from Foodnetwork.com

Ingredients:

3 cups cake flour
1 cup butter, softened
2 1/4 cups sugar
5 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 20-ounce cans pineapple slices in juice (reserving juice)

Pineapple Cream Cheese Frosting (See Below)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 2 9-inch round cake pans with cooking spray and lightly dust with flour.

In a large bowl, beat 1 cups butter until creamy.  Gradually add the sugar, beating until fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time.  Stir in vanilla.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix dry ingredients.  Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, alternating with the buttermilk.

Sprinkle 1/2 cup brown sugar in each round pan.  Drizzle 1/4 cup melted butter in each pan.  Arrange pineapple slices on top, adding a cherry in the center of each.

Pour equal amounts of batter in each pan.

Place cake pans on a jelly roll pan and bake for 40 -45 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool for 10 - 20 minutes

To assemble, place four thin strips of parchment on a serving platter, leaving the center open.  Invert the first cake onto the serving platter making sure that the parchment  is sticking out of the sides.  Allow time to cool.  Invert second cake directly on top of first cake.

When both cakes are completely cool, frost the sides only with pineapple cream cheese frosting.

Pineapple Cream Cheese Frosting

1 stick butter
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
2 Tablespoons pineapple juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Cream butter and cream cheese until smooth.  Add pineapple juice and salt.  Gradually beat in powdered sugar until smooth.







Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Birthday Girl!


It's my brown-eyed girl's 11th birthday! When we lived in The South, March 4th always marked the day that the daffodils bloomed. Clearly, we are not even close to blooming here, although despite the fact that we have had some 50+ days of below zero (Fahrenheit) temperatures this winter, the Farmer's Almanac is predicting a turn toward spring.  I love the Farmer's Almanac.  How can they always be right?  As you can see, we are attempting to bring some spring into our day with our brand new spring birthday outfit (Thanks, Aunt Rita!) and this very spring-like gum cake!  A Sugar Free Gum Cake is as close to dessert as school allows.  Leave it to Arielle to make a more beautiful cake than her mother!


You can get some step by step instructions HERE!


And as long as we are reminiscing, How about this sweet photo of Arielle and Ella?
They were little flower girls in cousin Sherah's LightHouse Oregon Coast Wedding.
For the record, I am so glad I bought the dresses.


These sisters still share a room.
I think I finally tossed the sippy cups.  Last year.


Happy Birthday, Sweet Girl!


You are so very precious to me!

xo
Mom