Archive | February, 2012

Pancake Buffet

26 Feb

I’ve been wanting to celebrate food holidays for a while now and excitedly got the chance to have a food holiday party this Saturday thanks to Food Buzz!

You know I got to be a part of their amazing 24×24 program on New Year’s Eve, which may have been one of my best parties to date, and I got to participate again – this time with a pancake buffet!

Food Buzz picks the day and submit the proposal, so for me, I used this opportunity to google what February 25th means in the food world – and it’s the end of National Pancake Week!!

So to celebrate a bunch of my friends came over and we had the ultimate pancake buffet – complete with multiple flavors and mimosas, of course.

At a regular brunch buffet, you get your mix of entrees, but do you ever get your choice of pancake mix-ins and toppings? That was the goal with my party. I wanted to make every guests pancake dreams come true – success.

First I set up the buffet with an assortment of fruits, syrup, whipped cream, pecans, powdered sugar, cinnamon and for the sweet tooth, chocolate chips.

While we mixed up our mimosas,

I baked up an apple dutch pancake. It was my first attempt of a baked pancake, and in the future I might bake the cake at a lower temp because I burned the top a bit and felt as if the middle was a little soft, but it was still a great mix of apple slices and fluffy dough. Yum! I’m sure my dad would like that the next time I’m home.

Next I whisked together the wet and dry ingredients of a basic pancake recipe. You know I’m only a fan of boxes when they contain brownie mix, so pancakes had to come from scratch as well – and they were cute and perfect. I decided to make little guys because, well because my cookie scoop was the perfect size!

My guests then picked from my topper buffet and dressed up their baby cakes!

Everyone loved that they could customize their plates and mix and match – especially with both salty and sweet options!

I’m so excited that I got to have this party and send a huge thanks to Food Buzz – hope to participate again soon!

PS – thanks to Jenn for the awesome PJ flair!

Ohh – and Jordan for making sausage patties to add to the table!


Delicious Resourcefulness

21 Feb

I love decorating cakes.

Of course I’m a huge fan of inventing cookies, covering stuff in chocolate and eating brownie batter from the bowl, but when I started dabbling in desserts in was to quench my creative thirst, and I did that with cake.

I can’t draw for my life, I can’t paint my own toe nails, even stick figures are difficult for me to get on paper, but I’m a really creative person. I’ve always loved artsy things as long as it involves being messy – enter cake flavor combining and designing/decorating. I used to spend hours in class drawing birthday cakes and picking the perfect combinations for my friends and family, and I got to revisit that love this weekend with my surprise visit home to celebrate my mom’s birthday.

I lied and told her I wasn’t coming, but that I was planning to order her a cake from a fancy bakery so she wouldn’t miss any deliciousness. She requested graham cracker cake, which was perfect because it was already what I was planning to bake.

My graham cracker recipe is one of my favorites, it pairs so well with chocolate, whipped cream or fruit filings and really any frosting. I’ve of course made a s’mores cake with it and quadrupled it for my college graduation party cake. Since I’m dessert free til Easter starting tomorrow, I was happy to make my favorite cake for her.

I wanted to mix it up a little so I researched how to make salted caramel filling and soaked my cakes in them. My mom said it was the best flavor addition she’d ever had – and she and my dad dipped marshmallows in the extra filling, which is the best compliment I could get.

You can watch my make the filling here – and it’s only 1 minute 45 seconds! It’s really simple and versatile.

Next I whipped up a frosting recipe I found on Pinterest – I think the first time I actually made something from there. It was amazing, but also amazingly way too much. (and I feel terrible because I didn’t pin or bookmark the recipe – oops!) I had to freeze half the batch because I couldn’t imagine throwing away so much chocolatey buttery goodness. Yes, buttery. There were 5 sticks of butter in the recipe. Which I guess should have clued me in on the amount, oh well, someday someone will come across that container in the freezer and be in chocoholic heaven.

Then came the resourcefulness. I said before I love drawing and planning cakes. Well this time I had some other things to plan, like getting on a flight with only sleeping for 4 hours or more importantly, not telling my mom I was coming home, so the cake sketches didn’t happen. Instead I ran upstairs to room #2, aka The Oz Room, and stole some stuff from my mom’s shelves.

And the cake looked ridiculously awesome. In fact the fluffiness of the frosting worked really well with the decor I chose. And, of course, the cake was really yummy and devoured and I was so so so so so happy to be there for her to make the cake and to surprise her for her birthday – which is actually tomorrow. I also covered some more kiwi in chocolate – I think I’m addicted to the sweet and sour combo.

And we had chocolate mint martini’s in honor of her love for wicked…

Happy Birthday, Mom – Love you!

(P.S. no matter what Dad says, your birthday doesn’t trump Ash Wednesday, have a drink and dessert tonight – there’s frosting in the freezer 🙂


Triple Treats for your Sweet

19 Feb

Ahh, Valentine’s Day. Flowers, romance, fun…

forget that, I’m just concerned with the chocolate.

In preparation for the sweet holiday, I decided to make three desserts for my roommates (and me) last weekend.

There was the simple dark chocolate kiwi, the sticky cookie dough truffle bars and the swirly strawberry puree champagne.

They were all delicious.

The kiwis were so simple and so cute, unbelievably cute actually. I peeled and sliced and then tried to stick candy sticks in the fruit. Some of them didn’t hold so well, but they were all able to be doused in melted dark chocolate. I’m not kidding when I say these were amazing. I’m pretty sure I ate them all and I’m also pretty sure I’m dipping some more kiwi in chocolate this Saturday to celebrate my mom’s birthday.

Chocolate covered cookie dough balls were equally as chocolate drenched, but a little more difficult, but only really due to my impatient-ness. Mixing the dough was fairly simple. Basically, you make your favorite cookie dough recipe but sub a can of sweetened condensed milk for the eggs and baking soda and/or powder. This makes the dough salmonella-free. Then the patience part came. You should really keep these balls in the fridge or freezer for an hour. I just didn’t want to wait that long to continue my chocolate dipping, and my Sweet Talk episode, so a few of my cookie dough balls were melty when dipped. I managed to wait a bit longer for the rest but the shape was a little droopy because of my insistence to continue. Still a fun activity and twist on the popular cake ball trend.


Finally, something sweet to drink! Take some frozen strawberries, puree them in a blender or mini blender or any way you can puree them, pour in a glass and then add the bubbly. Champagne over strawberries took a new, delicious twist.

I hope you all enjoyed your holiday! Happy Valentine’s Day!


9 Feb

Maybe a little fumble, but it was recovered.

I love ANY occasion to throw a party, and honestly not just because I can make a dessert… or 2 or 3… but because I like people getting together for fun. Sounds corny, but it’s true and I bet most of you who read this agree.

We didn’t throw a Super Bowl party, but I baked some football party sweets anyway. You can’t pass up the decorating possibilities of sporting events. Plus, we are having a dessert swap with our landlords (and their 7 kids) lately, so they got a set of these guys to cheer on the players.

From my years as the best Secret Charrelle ever, I always think brownies when I think football desserts. There’s just that timeless football field green frosting on a super choco-filled brownies that screams “Go Team!” and that’s exactly what I did last weekend. Green buttercream frosting atop adorable square brownies, decorated with extra white frosting and toothpicked with a paper football. The perfect addition to a party, even if you go to a bar for the game.

That was the touchdown, the fumble came with my greek yogurt inspired dip. You see, I’m trying 2 things here, 1) to break out of my comfort zone (new year’s reso!) and 2) to find some suitable non-dessert snacks for lent (less than 2 weeks away).

I thought maybe the super yummy new Chobani flavor, Apple Cinnamon, could be an ingredient. I later realized that it’s kind of already a dip, and that Greek yogurt is thick, and when you mix it with dry pudding mix, it just gets thicker.

I ended up using three yogurts and still didn’t get anything creamy and actually dippable. I did still eat all of the pita chips and the yogurt throughout the weekend, but I ate the “dip” with a spoon. Therefore, I would try it again with thinner yogurt, or just dip the chips in the yumminess that Chobani already perfected. Oh, well it was a good try. Go Team!


Baby Feet

2 Feb

There is one little baking feat leftover from my time at home this winter that I forgot to mention – Nicki’s baby feet.

Nicki is one of my best friend’s (Elizabeth) sister, and a very happy, excited, glowing mother-to-be. She lives is Mississippi, but most of her friends and family are still in the Chicago-land area. When she was home for Christmas, Elizabeth and Nicki’s best friend threw her a surprise baby shower.

I, of course, asked if I could do anything to help, but secretly just wanted to bring a dessert. We decided on baby feet sugar cookies. I made these for Marilee’s shower (yikes almost 5 years ago!) before Madeline was born, so I have the perfect little cookie cutters. Plus, my mom and I were already planning sugar cookie day, so we just doubled the recipe (holy moly over 150 cookies) and added the baby feet to the bunch.

Sugar cookies really always work well at a party, they’re great as a decoration, party favor or just a plate of colorful cookies for dessert. Nicki is due in April (when all awesome babies are born), and I wish her best of luck with the little girl’s arrival!


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