Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Dressing Up Dessert With Chocolate

One of my favorite ways to dress up desserts is to add chocolate. Who doesn't like chocolate? {Well actually my youngests child doesn't like chocolate but he's crazy. (:} Adding chocolate not only adds that extra special touch to make your treats look Fabulous, but it tastes great too!!

Here are a few of my go to teats that I like to use on my dessert tables.

Brownie Bites These are tastey on their own but when you add that little extra piece of chocolate it takes them to whole new level! Trust me when I say that your guests will LOVE them. The best part it that is so easy to do. Just melt some chocolate in a plastic bag, squeeze it into a chocolate mold, freeze the chocolate for 5 mins then attach them to the brownies with a little extra melted chocolate.

Chocolate Dipped Cookies Make a batch of cookies and dip half in chocolate. Such a quick and easy way to add some delicious color to your table.

Chocolate Covered Marshmallows  These are so simple but they add such a great pop of color to your table. I like to dip my marshmallows in colored chocolate then dip them in colored sprinkles. The sprinkles really make the color come alive.

Chocolate Covered Strawberries  These are not only delicious, but they are beautiful too. They add a touch of elegance to your table. The key to making your strawberries look like you spent a fortune on them is adding the drizzle. I dip my strawberries in the store bought container of dipping chocolate and let them firm up. Then I drizzle a second color over the top. To add the drizzle simply melt the chocolate in a plastic bag, cut a teeny, tiny hole in the corner and drizzle. {I like to practice drizzling on a paper towl first until I get my rhythem down.} Your guests will be AMAZED when you say you made them!

Four delicious ways to dress up your desserts. Which one will you try first?

Friday, July 27, 2012

DIY Napkin Rings

Theses burlap flower napkin rings are simple and inexpensive to make.

All you need is a paper towel tube, a scrap of burlap and a hot glue gun!

That's it!

Aren't they a great addition to the table? I love the pop of color they add.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Simple Fondant Toppers

I have shared some delicious semi homemade cupcake recipes with you, now I'm going to share a simple way to dress them up. Making your own fondant toppers can be a great way to add a little pizazz to your cupcakes for very little cost.

I like to make a simple marshmallow fondant. 4 cups mini marshmallows, 2 tablespoons of water, microwave 1 minute and mix in 4 cups of powdered sugar. Now before you get too excited, it is very messy and takes some effort to work the powdered sugar in but well worth it!  

Let me share some lessons I have learned the hard way.  :)
1. Divide your fondant into small sections before rolling it out. {I thought I would just roll it out like a pie crust. That does not go well!}
2. Use a thickness guide on your rolling pin. This will keep your toppers consistent and give you a more professional look.
3. Wear gloves when you color your fondant!  

Once you have your fondant colored you are ready to create your toppers. First, cut out your base circle. To add an extra detail you can poke holes with a toothpick to make a decorative edge. Next, use mini cookie cutters, letters or shapes to cut out a design. Finally, brush a little water on the back to attach your shapes to your toppers.

Using simple shapes and multiple colors can add a lot of detail and personalization to your dessert table without breaking the bank and they are guaranteed to put a smile on the guest of honor's face.

{He loved his Super Samurai Power Ranger Face Mask!}

Have fun creating!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Add Flair To Your Tablescape

Using chargers are a great way to add a little flair to your tablescape. They can help create the mood for your party and add that extra little detail to WOW your guests.

There are several different options when it comes to chargers:

You can buy them. I wanted a more formal look for this party so I opted to buy a decorative plate that accented my patterned plates. It gave the table a very modern and sophisticated look.

You can repurpose an old charger. I had an abundance of inexpensive gold colored plastic chargers from a Christmas party. I spray painted them yellow and used my cirlce dabber to add polka dots. They added the perfect touch to my summer table.

You can make them. I wanted to add a bit of fun and whimsy to my shabby chic baby shower. It was a chic theme so I chose to create my chargers with feathers. I used a round palcemat and hot glued feathers. Super simple but such a great addition to my rustic tablescape.

There you go. Three fun ways to add a little flair to your tablescape. Have fun and be creative!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Semi Homemade Chocolate Filled Cupcakes with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

Last week I shared my two favorite semi homemade lemon cupcakes. This week I am sharing my favorite semi homemade chocolate cupcake recipes inspired by a recipe I found in mixingbowl.com. They are sure to be more crowd pleasers!

Chocolate Vanilla Filled Cupcakes with

Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

What you need: a box of milk chocolate cake mix, unsweetened baking cocoa, vanilla, large box of vanilla instant pudding, vanilla bean paste, 8oz heavy whipping cream, 8oz sour cream, small bag of chocolate chips {2 cups}, stick of butter, 4 cups powdered sugar

Mix your cake mix according to the directions on the box. Add 2T unsweetened cocoa and 1t vanilla. Bake according to the box. Remember the key to a tasty cupcake is that it is not over baked. So I like to check mine at 16 minutes.

While your cupcakes are baking it's time to make the pudding. You will substitute one cup of milk for one cup of heavy whipping cream and add 1T vanilla bean paste. {I highly recommend the vanilla bean paste, but if you don't have a baking supply near by you can substitute vanilla} After the pudding is set, scoop it into a Ziploc bag.

Once your cupcakes are cooled, you will need to make a hole in the middle and fill it with the pudding. If you want to make them look a little fancier, cut them in thirds, swirl a layer of pudding on each layer then place the top back on.

Last but not least, the FROSTING!!! Like I've said, this is my favorite frosting. :)
Melt the butter and chocolate chips in a sauce pan and let cool for 5 minutes. Then, stir in the sour cream. Poor into a mixing bowl and slowly mix in the powdered sugar. Spoon into a Ziploc bag, cut off the corner and swirl on to your cupcakes. This is a great frosting for parties because it doesn't melt! Pop them in the fridge for 20 mins before your party then you can set them out on your dessert table and they will stay beautiful!!


Chocolate Raspberry Filled Cupcakes with

Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

Want a quick and easy alternative to the vanilla pudding? Use Raspberry Jam!
Follow all the same steps just substitute the pudding for seedless raspberry jam. Who doesn't love chocolate and raspberry?

That's it! Two more DELICIOUS semi homemade cupcakes that your guests will love!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Boy Bash on a Budget Jungle Dessert Table

I was so excited to be able to participate in Space Ships and Laser Beams' Boy Bash on a Budget Challenge. My challenge was to create a budget friendly Welcome to the Jungle dessert table using their ADORABLE Lion Printables.

I love any chance I can get to show that it is possible to throw a great party on a minimal budget. The key is DIY projects, semi homemade treats and a little creative thinking. :)

As soon as I saw the lion printables I fell in love with the adorable little lion and the fabulous bright colors! I knew that I wanted to create a table with natural elements and pops of colors. Burlap was a natural choice for the table cloth then I used the party circles to make a garland for the front of the table. I love the color that they added to the table.

I made a DIY frame with the same colors and patterns from the printables to showcase the welcome sign. It looks so great on the table!

To keep the color going I spelled out the word ROAR with paper mache letters and covered them with bright colored craft paper. I LOVE to add words to my tables so to save money I don't permanently cover them, I use double stick tape to attach the paper. Then I sand the edges to give them a finished look. This way I can easily reuse the letters!

Another one of my favorite things to do is to create one high impact item for my backdrop. For this party I used 4 grass skirt from the Dollar Tree and hung them upside down. I used a piece of twine across the top so the ends would bend over and look like the grassy plains. Then for my high impact item I created a giraffe from a piece of packaging paper also from the Dollar Tree. I added the details with scraps of paper I had at home. That's it $5 for the whole backdrop. Isn't the giraffe fun?

For the food I packed a simple sack lunch with a PB&J sandwich and a little pack of carrots with ranch dressing. I served them in an orange paper bag and added a bright piece of paper with a leaf pattern cut out to match the printables. I also served mini water bottles with the adorable printable labels from the collection.

The desserts were simple and semi homemade. To carry out the jungle theme I made treats with an animal theme. Chocolate pudding layered with whip cream to resemble zebra stripes. Green licorice for vines. Cupcakes wrapped in the lion cupcake wrappers. Brownie bites with a chocolate roar. Safari chocolates that my AWESOME hubby made for me and little bags of animal crackers with printable tags.

That's the whole party. You don't have to spend a lot of money to create a fun table that the kids will love.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Semi Homemade Lemon Cupakes

My friends and family all know that I to LOVE to bake so I am often being asked to bring cupcakes to events. But as a busy mom of 4 boys I don't always have the time or energy to bake from scratch. Over the next few weeks I am going to share my favorite semi homemade dessert tips, for the DIY mom, that are sure to impress your guests. 

First up are my two favorite semi homemade lemon cupcakes that I PROMISE you and your guests will love!

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

For the cupcakes you will need I box of Vanilla cake mix, a jar of lemon curd and 1 whole lemon.

Mix the batter according to the box direction then add the zest of your lemon and stir it in. Now, take a little taste of the batter. {I told you it was good.} To keep my cupcakes fairly uniform I use a 1/3 cup measuring cup, that a fill a little less than full, to fill my cupcake liners. The key to delicious cupcakes is making sure you don't over bake them. There is nothing worse than a dry cupcake! I only bake one tray of cupcakes at a time and I bake them for about 16 minutes. I have a convection oven so it cooks a little faster, but I would recommend checking them at around 16 minutes. Then I let them cool in the pan for 10 minutes before I remove them.

Once they are completely cooled, you are ready for step 2. The filling. I have a handy little corer tool that I picked up at Target for a couple of bucks and I highly recommend that you get one because you are going to want to make these again. :) However, if you don't have the tool, you can just use a knife to cut a circle and pop out the middle.

Once you have made your hole in your cupcake, fill it with a little scoop of lemon curd. Now what I do next is eat the pile of cores I pulled out, but that step is optional.

The final step is the meringue. You will need 4 egg whites and 1 cup of sugar. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the sugar a little at a time and beat until the sugar is dissolved. I like to add a little lemon zest for some extra lemony goodness. Spoon the meringue into a gallon size Ziploc bag, cut off the corner, pipe onto the cupcakes, place them on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 5 minutes or until lightly browned.  

Not enough time to make these? I have an even easier recipe for delicious lemon cupcakes that happens to be my personal favorite. 

Lemon Cupcakes with White Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

Follow the steps above but omit the lemon curd filling. Then, instead of the meringue topping I make a white chocolate sour cream frosting. IT IS TO DIE FOR!!!! It is hands down my favorite frosting EVER!!!

For the frosting you will need 1 stick of butter, 1 bag of white chocolate melting chips {2 cups}, 8 oz sour cream and 4 cups powdered sugar.

Melt the butter and the chocolate in a pan over low heat then let cool for 5 minutes and stir in the sour cream. {It is going to look separated and kind of like you did something wrong but don't panic.} Poor the mixture into a mixing bowl and gradually mix in the powdered sugar. Now take a taste. AMAZING right? Now spoon the frosting into a Ziploc bag, cut off the corner and pipe onto your cupcakes. The best thing about this frosting is that you can use the colored melting chocolates to create colored frosting.

There you have it two semi homemade lemon cupcake recipes that are sure to be party pleasers.