Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Pink and Gold Princess Party Cake

One of my good friends planned and decorated a beautiful princess party for her daughter's fifth birthday last weekend, and she asked me to make the cake and cake pops in a pink and gold theme.  The two tiered cake is frosted in buttercream of the palest pink and white, and decorated with edible gold sugar pearls and little fondant cutouts I brushed with gold luster dust.  The only non-edible piece is the crown topper, and the whole cake is lightly sprinkled with luster dust for a sparkly sheen.

I made coordinating cake pops dipped in pale gold candy coating, and decorated them with sugar pearls, tiny piped buttercream roses and sparkling sugar.  I especially love the gold wired ribbon ringlets tied around the paper straws.

Katie is a fantastic party planner, and she really outdid herself with the beautifully set table, the invitations, the pretty decorations and the crafts for the little girls.  I'm sure all the little princesses at the party had a magical time!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Getting ready for Thanksgiving...

It's looking very fall-ish around here as I've gradually been getting the house ready for Thanksgiving.  My in-laws will be arriving on Thursday and staying through the weekend, and it will also be their first time to meet their new grandson.

Other than Christmas decorations, I don't have much seasonal decor, so our house pretty much looks the same year round.  But I love to make the holiday special, and that starts with setting the table for dinner, because a holiday shouldn't feel like every other day of the year.  My husband designed and built our beautiful dining room table last year, and I collected the mismatched chairs, mostly from antique stores.

Like I did last year, I dried a handful of leaves from the trees in our backyard before the wind stripped them completely bare, and scattered them down the length of the table.  A few branches cut from our maple tree, leaves still clinging stubbornly and arranged in a vase in the center of the table is really all the centerpiece I want.  After Thanksgiving, I'll keep the same arrangement for Christmas, and hang a few ornaments from the branches.  I think it's dramatic and beautiful in its simplicity.

The rest of the fall touches throughout the house are simple.  The red lantern on the coffee table.  Warm quilts and vintage wool blankets.  Pretty copper mugs, cinnamon sticks and mulling spices on a silver tray, all ready for mulled wine.  My kitchen chalkboard that I doodle on each season.  Bowls heaped with fruit and vegetables for Thanksgiving dinner.  Candles, nuts for cracking, and homemade rhubarb liqueur that I made in the summer and is now ready for pretty pink cocktails on cozy evenings by the fire.

Although our baby boy occupies most of my time during the day, as I have a few minutes here and there, I've been trying to get ahead on the meal preparations for anything that can be done in advance.  I simmered cranberries and raspberries with sugar and spices for a wonderful, jammy cranberry raspberry sauce.  I cooked the custard base for molasses ice cream, to which, after churning, I'll add a buttery brown sugar swirl.  I think the ice cream will pair beautifully with the pecan pie and blueberry crumb pie I'll be baking tomorrow.

And lastly, our menu!  We're pretty traditional, although I rarely make pumpkin pie, because it's just never been my favorite...
  • Turkey, of course (My husband is in charge of the turkey prep, brining, seasoning, roasting, etc.)
  • Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
  • Cranberry Raspberry Sauce
  • Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Streusel (never with marshmallows)
  • Cabbage Rolls (This is a traditional North Dakota dish my husband makes every year, that his grandma made every year...  cabbage leaves are steamed until soft, filled with a mixture of rice, bacon and vinegar, then rolled up and baked.  It's delicious.)
  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Leeks
  • Stuffing?  still undecided, since it's not a dish I usually make...  Same with rolls - they seem unnecessary to me with all the other wonderful side dishes to eat...
  • Upside-down Cranberry Chocolate Cake
  • Pecan Pie
  • Blueberry Crumb Pie
  • Molasses and Brown Sugar Swirl Ice Cream

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Winter Coconut Cake

We've been enjoying a warm, beautiful autumn, but two days ago our first snow came, and now my mind is on all things wintery and Christmasy.  On that note, I would call the color of the buttercream on this cake winter pink.  It came about by accident, as I was going for various shades of purple, but I wasn't thrilled with the color and in adding some pink food coloring to the purple, ended up with this, which I thought was pretty after all.  I especially like the swirled lowlights and highlights of color and the texture of the buttercream topped with a light snowfall of coconut.

The cake is coconut, and I haven't posted a recipe in this blog post because I already have two wonderful coconut cake recipes in my blog index if you'd like to try them.  One uses a box mix to start, and can be found here, and the other, a from scratch white chocolate coconut cake, is simply to die for.

It's almost Thanksgiving, and we have so much to be thankful for this year.  We have a perfect little baby boy who's growing more every day, and life is wonderful.

Who else has had their dessert menu planned out for weeks?  We will be having pecan pie and blueberry crumb pie, as well as an upside down cranberry chocolate cake which I'm so looking forward to making.  I love the holidays.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Almond Poppyseed Muffins

Almond pastries are something I never tire of.  Sweet almond treats are, and always have been, one of my favorite things to eat, and something I can never resist.  Last month, while we were getting ready to have our baby and before we left for the hospital, I baked a few batches of muffins.  Besides a batch of banana chocolate chip muffins, I made these almond poppyseed muffins.

We ate a few and froze the rest, as I suspected that when we came home from the hospital, I'd want to have some things to eat but no time to cook or bake, and I sure was right.  Taking care of a newborn is exhausting!

It's been wonderful being able to grab one of these muffins from the freezer and warm it up in the microwave for a quick breakfast for myself while I'm feeding my baby.  I just finished the last one yesterday, actually, and I'm sad they're gone.

The muffins are light and fluffy, moist with sour cream and filled with a sweet almond paste filling, then topped with crumbly streusel.  Aren't the poppyseed speckles pretty?

Almond Poppyseed Muffins

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 can almond paste
  • 6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon poppy seeds
Preheat the oven to 350 and line a muffin pan with 12 paper liners.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, poppy seeds and sugar until combined.  Add the eggs, sour cream, oil and extracts and mix just until moistened.  Spoon half the batter into the muffin pan, filling them just 1/3 full.

Remove the almond paste from the can and divide into 12 portions, rolling them into balls.  Place the almond paste balls on top of the batter, then spoon the remaining batter over the almond paste, filling the muffin pan full.

For the topping, use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the sugar, flour, salt and poppy seeds until crumbly.  Sprinkle over the batter.

Bake the muffins for 17-20 minutes, until done.  Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then serve warm.

Yields 12 muffins.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen