Tiny Food Party!

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In case you didn’t know, I’m one of those people that loves things in miniature. And tiny food is pretty much at the top of my ‘things that are cuter in miniature’ list. A few years ago Paul and I had a daylong obsession with buying these themed sets of tiny plastic food. They came in a little set with maybe 5 different types of food. My favorites were the carnival set with funnel cake and snow cones and a fast food breakfast set that even came with the styrofoam tray and to-go lid. So funny! And the part that really sucked us in was that they came in a mystery box so you didn’t know which set you were getting. We bought one each at Urban Outfitters, opened them right outside the store and I think promptly went back inside and bought two more. I can’t remember what they were called and I can’t find them online, but maybe I’ll dig them up and take some photos when I’m back in Colorado! If you have any idea what I’m talking about, please let me know!

Ok, so tiny plastic food is awesome, but tiny real food is of course, even better. As I mentioned in the mac and cheese bites post, we had a tiny food party when I was home and it was so much fun. We all had at least one dish to make – even our brother put together the lovely caprese skewers! It’s always extra fun when everyone is assembling together. We used the Tiny Food Party book for the skewers, mac and cheese bites, crab cake sliders, and mini chicken and waffles. Yes, MINI CHICKEN AND WAFFLES! Can you believe it? Not only is it the cutest thing ever, but they were really delicious and a lot more convenient to eat. Our grocery store was out of mini waffles, so we just cut regular ones into smaller circles. I seriously can’t get enough of this book. I’m sure you will be seeing it make some more appearances in the future! How do you feel about miniature food? Cute or just annoying??

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Coconut Cream Ombre Rosette Cake

DSC_3996File this one under Mom’s Corner! I had basically nothing to do with this one other than the fact that it was made for my sister’s and my birthday. Oh, and I’m pretty sure I stirred the coconut cream for like 10 minutes straight! Ha, I can weasel my way into any accomplishment. But really, it’s pretty amazing that my mom took the time to make this because we had just finished making 200 cupcakes for a wedding two days before. It was super fun and I’ll probably post more on it later, but also kind of tortuous because I didn’t get to try one of the coconut cream cupcakes that everyone, and especially my brother, kept raving about. I missed out on the cupcake tasting and we had no extras. I tried each components separately and knew they were delicious, but mom said that wasn’t enough (yay!). She recreated the cupcakes into this beautiful, pink, girly masterpiece. Seriously, thank goodness she did. It really lived up to the hype. Luckily, she had been wanting to attempt an ombre rosette cake for a while – I think it turned out so cute (and the cut slices look like hearts)! The recipes she uses are down below. I included her notes for high altitude bakers since it has worked so well for her! It’s her go-to, especially for cupcakes.

Thanks mom for the beautiful cake and for always giving us such special birthdays!! DSC_3991 DSC_3994DSC_3999 DSC_4002 DSC_4017

Chocolate Cake

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa sifted
1 cup hot water
1 cup buttermilk (add 1 extra tablespoon for high altitude)
2 cups sugar  (remove one tablespoon for high altitude)
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil (add 1 extra tablespoon for high altitude)
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour (add 1 extra tablespoon for high altitude)
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup heavy cream

Add the sifted cocoa powder to a medium sized bowl and pour in the cup of hot liquid. Whisk until completely dissolved. Next add the buttermilk to cool down the mixture, then add the sugar and whisk until all is combined. Add the eggs, oil and vanilla and mix again.

In a small bowl, stir flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk this into the wet mixture until you no longer see any lumps. Stir in heavy cream until evenly mixed in. Divide into two cake pans and bake at 350 degrees F (375 for high altitude) for about 30 minutes or until done. Let cool and chill in fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Coconut Cream (Makes about 2 cups)

1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup Coconut milk
1 cup Milk
1 1/2 Tbsp of corn starch
1/2-1 cup of toasted coconut

Mix all ingredients, except toasted coconut, together and mix well.  Cook all ingredients together over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it begins to boil and thicken. Add the toasted coconut, if using, after the pudding has cooled.

Coconut Frosting

1 cup butter, at room temperature
8 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 tsp coconut extract

Beat the butter and half the confectioners’ sugar until smooth; add half the coconut milk, then the rest, and the extract, and the rest of the confectioners’ sugar, beating until you have a spreadable frosting. Cool completely before frosting.

Assembly

Spread coconut cream on top of the bottom layer (For an extra touch, add a small layer of chocolate buttercream too). Place the second cake on top of the coconut cream. Frost entire cake with coconut frosting.

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Mac & Cheese Bites

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Don’t you love it when a recipe goes way better than you imagined? I doubt it’s a secret that I love frying things (fried guacamole anyone?), but sometimes it can go horribly wrong. Food falls apart, sticks to the pan, burns, doesn’t crisp up, and don’t forget the inevitable oil splatter wounds. My mom often brags about the FryDaddy that she and her roommates had in college. Of course, the bragging always turns to regret about actually using it and how unhealthy that is…If it weren’t for that, I would probably own one right now. I mean, it would be so much easier and cleaner! I could fry everything…and yeah snap back to the reality of why owning one is a bad idea…

I was really excited to make these mac and cheese bites because it came in as kinda sorta my first request on the blog! And also because I had tried them at a restaurant fairly recently and they were amazing! For as much as I love mac & cheese, I can’t believe I’ve only tried it fried a couple of times. Thanks to Pass the Curds for asking me to do a homemade post on these after I mentioned the Trader Joe’s version! I knew as soon as I saw her blog name that I needed to be subscribed!

We made these as part of a “tiny food party” that we had while I was home. The party has become a really awesome memory for me, but more on that later. I promise I will share the rest of the adorable (and delicious) tiny food this week! Since this was a request, I tried to take pictures of every step! I’ve included the recipe from the Tiny Food Party book because it worked so perfectly for me. We didn’t make their mac & cheese recipe, but I’m sure it’s a good one. Check out the step-by-step below!

DSC_4006First of all, you need to use cold mac and cheese for this. A little planning ahead is necessary, but when is mac and cheese for dinner a bad idea? And for two nights in a row? Even better. DSC_4009Just have to show off a bit here. My sister and I picked mac and cheese topping bar for our birthday dinner. See, we really are obsessed. It was a bit of a throwback to another birthday I had with the same theme. New York deli style, buffalo chicken, southwest, and classic. Amazing selection! (Future post, maybe?)DSC_4032Ok, so your leftover mac and cheese should be nice and cold. Press it into your leftover container with a spatula until it’s really compressed. It should stay together in a cube when you flip it onto your cutting board, like this. DSC_4039Then cut the cube into triangle shapes. I got pretty excited when this actually worked! As long as it’s cold and compressed, the triangles should stay together without a problem. DSC_4040 DSC_4041Next, roll the shapes in flour. Once again, I was surprised the flour actually stuck to and coated the bites so perfectly! DSC_4043See? Perfectly floured. Now take a bath in the egg. DSC_4048And finally, roll them in Panko bread crumbs until fully coated. DSC_4050And…keep going until they are all coated in crumbs.DSC_4068Fry them in oil until they are a nice, dark golden brown. Sprinkle parmesan over the top. They turned out perfectly crispy and melty in the middle. It really was more than I was hoping for! And much better than frozen. DSC_4073Just a sneak peek of the tiny food party! It was so fun. I say try this! I really didn’t think it was going to go well – just the idea of getting anything to stick to cold blobs of pasta sounded impossible. I promise, it was so easy and a great party dish!

Tiny Mac and Cheese Bites (from Tiny Food Party, which is a new favorite book)

Like I said, we haven’t tried this mac and cheese recipe, but it sounds good to me! We didn’t have bacon in ours – let me know if you’ve tried that!

For the Mac
1/2 pound small elbow macaroni
2 tbs unsalted butter
1 1/2 tbs flour
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup gruyere cheese
1/4 cup grated fontina cheese
2 tsp dry mustard
2/3 cup cooked crumbled bacon
2 green onions thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste

For Frying
1 qt cooking oil
1 cup flour
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups panko crumbs

Make the mac and cheese, pour in a greased 8 by 8 baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oil to 350. Cut chilled mac and cheese into triangles. Put flour in shallow dish, eggs in a 2nd shallow dish and panko in 3rd shallow dish.  Dredge triangles in flour, dip in eggs and then toss in panko crumbs. Fry in small batches for 3-4 minutes until golden brown. Drain on paper towels, season with salt and pepper (I only sprinkled with parmesan).

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Indoor Birthday Picnic

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July was too hot for picnics. This was heartbreaking for me because picnics are definitely on my list of top favorite activities. I apparently don’t hide this fact either – last year for my birthday Paul and my mom almost got me the exact same picnic themed gift! My mom sent me an adorable, custom picnic kit and Paul said, ‘hey! I almost ordered a nearly identical basket!’ I didn’t get the set until the day after my annual birthday picnic, but don’t worry, it still got used! So yes, this year’s annual birthday picnic was a given, but the weather was just miserable. I have not adapted well to the Boston humidity…rather than sweating through our lunch we decided to try an indoor picnic. We kind of stumbled around the internet to see if there are any places you can go to set up an indoor picnic…we really weren’t sure how that would work or what we were looking for though. In the end, I thought a picnic at home with Mad Men sounded very pleasant! This was, I believe, the week that Mad Men stole my life. It was lovely and I’m glad we still kept up the tradition even when we were too stubborn to go outside. I was leaving for Colorado the next day, so it felt really nice to just chill out and enjoy the day before a busy travel day.

I also have to give a shout out to the prettiest birthday package (last photos)! I woke up and gasped at the sight of this beautifully wrapped box on my desk. Isn’t waking up to packages just the best feeling ever?? Birthday part two featuring the prettiest cake coming up soon!

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Dad’s Corner

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It seems like after every family celebration I get to write a post about how I surprised so-and-so with a visit. Sadly, this isn’t one of those posts. I didn’t buy a plane ticket home for Father’s Day even though I really, really wanted to! I’m trying to save up for future visits and such and I had just been home a month ago. I got to feel semi-included though with a FaceTime call and a group text convo complete with picture updates. Dad got a special meal, of course, but as always, the ‘puppy brother’ tends to take over everything. I tried to keep this balanced though and limited the puppy pictures to just two!

I mentioned last time I was home that there has been a casual competition to ‘make the blog,’ which I think dad has already won with his enthusiasm alone! SO, in honor of dad, this is Dad’s Corner. I missed a good meal! They barely had time to digest all of this before my mom and dad were off to ALASKA the next day! I’m so glad they got to go on a trip they’ve been dreaming of for so long to celebrate a very special anniversary. Us kids are so fortunate to have great parents that have taught us that it’s important to work hard and do great things but also how equally important it is to have a sense of humor and see as much of the world as possible! Oops, mom kind of snuck in on Dad’s Corner somehow! I hope dad can deal with that…I really wanted to include a picture of his famous (and probably record breaking) soft serve ice cream cone towers. The only one I could find from my own camera is the first one we ever took and it looks pretty wimpy. Since then, he has really perfected the art. Uh oh, I smell a Dad’s Corner part 2. 20130623-140616.jpg

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I had to throw in a cool picture from another past anniversary (I think) in honor of the most recent one! All you need is love. : )

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This is our puppy brother taking over the whole phone chat and looking right at me! haha! 20130623-140630.jpg

And here he is getting ready to be shipped off to visit me. Why so sad? No overnight shipping for this pup. : P

Extra Special

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Don’t worry, my mom isn’t mad at me for waiting so long to post about Mother’s Day…at least I don’t think she is! I was so happy to get to go home to Colorado last week. I thought I would be blogging a lot because I finished all of my class assignments and I always find tons of things to blog about when I’m at home with family. I did take tons of pictures, of course. And I started a few posts, but I don’t think I posted…anything. Oops! I just had such a nice time hanging out with everyone and enjoying the sunshine (for the last few days when it finally stopped raining).

I planned ahead way more than usual for this trip because it was an extra special one. My mom’s birthday was on Mother’s Day and I won’t say which birthday, but it was a good one. I already pulled a surprise visit for my dad’s, so I had to be somewhat clever with this one. I kept it a secret for a while, but eventually told her I would be coming…I just told her the wrong day. Yeah, totally not clever, but clever enough to work! I arrived a day before my parents returned from a little trip of their own and then us kids surprised her at the exact same place we surprised my dad – and almost the same exact table. See, so un-clever. And Perfect!

In my family, I’m not alone in the food obsessed department. Most of our occasions revolve around what food will be enjoyed. That was very much the case on this extra special day. And while I have lots of other things I could post about from that day, for now I’d just like to share the food! We had a lovely picnic at the park and then burgers and a milkshake bar (so awesome!) to end the day. I hope that I can always be home for my mom’s birthday/mother’s day. I know that I can speak for both of my siblings when I say that we are all so thankful to have such a great mom and friend. She’s always made every celebration fun for us and I hope that we can return the favor now that we are all grown up (sort of)! Love ya, Mom!

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So, everyone at the table was genuinely shocked that I forgot to take a picture of my burger before I ate it. That like, never happens. I was so excited to dig in. And I have to give credit to my dad and his ‘$50 burger.’ Ok, I’ll admit it – you did good.

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My flavor creation: vanilla ice cream, Nutella, cookie dough, and rainbow sprinkles. Plus chocolate whipped cream and more sprinkles on top! So good! We looked at the Millions of Milkshakes menu for inspiration (never been, but good ideas!).

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Classic chocolate for Dad. And props to my sister as well for blending up and beautifying our shakes! (Yes, they were both campaigning fairly hard to ‘make the blog’) Excellent work, my friends.

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With all these other people taking over my blog, I have to end with another picture of my contribution to the day. Breakfast sandwiches! P.S. Have you all seen this pretty amazing invention? No, I didn’t use it, but I wish.

A Video For Ozzie

It’s a very special day, y’all! Sorry, sometimes my southern roots come out when I’m excited. Today is Ozzie’s FIRST birthday. I can’t believe it! I remember the day he got to come home with us like it was yesterday. Of course, I haven’t gotten to be around him as often as I’d like, which could be why the time has flown by so quickly for me. We did spend a lot of quality time together when I was home in January though. I decided to test out the video on my camera and had a lot of fun following him around and bugging him with a lens in his face.

I’ve loved making videos ever since I was in elementary school. A neighborhood friend broke her arm one summer, so I spent practically every day making ‘movies’ (that were basically inspired by our favorite movies) with her since she couldn’t go to the pool. It wasn’t until I moved away for college that I started playing around with video editing again. I set video clips of my move to music and sent them to family so that they could see what I was up to. I have been really excited to start creating some video content for this ole blog. I have two others in progress and am glad that I finally got around to editing this snowy footage. I hope Ozzie likes watching himself and I hope he has the best day ever. I hear he might be making his first trip to the dog park! Wish I were going to be there to film what I’m sure will be an adorable and hilarious trip. Happy birthday, Ozzie! And now for a whole ton of pictures.

DSC_1268I kept catching a guilty Ozzie with these Christmas decorations!

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IMG_3693 Have to throw in my two favorite pictures of the real Ozzie. Digging for candy wrappers.

IMG_3695And here is how we calmed him down/punished him for punishing us with his craziness.