Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Fashionable Peep DIY Brunch Bunnies

Happy Easter and Passover week!

I’d like to share with you what the latest in fashion accessories is for Peeps this spring season.

DIY Peep Decorations

…but before we hit the runway…

Did I tell you I was in the Chicago area over the weekend?  I attended a fabulous conference at Wilton Industries where I met fellow Sweet Team Members, members of the Wilton School of Cake Decorating, toured the headquarters (incredible) and did some hands-on decorating.  I can’t wait to show you the latest trends in decorating and baking but that will have to wait until my phone is fixed so I can grab all my photos.  You can get a sneak peek on my Instagram page.

Back to the fashion show, I had this crafty DIY idea of making Easter Bonnets for Peeps before I left for my trip.  I wanted my Peeps to be girlie and fun and something to use as a garnish for dessert dishes and beverages. 

Peeps DIY Decorations Easter Bonnets-6598text

Rolled fondant makes it easy to cut-out a round ring to use for the hat and a daisy fondant plunger cutter creates the cute little flowers.  Make extras to use on the green coconut/candy melts grass and for cupcakes or for other baking projects this spring.

Here’s how to make the bonnets:

Peeps DIY Decorations-6555text

Color fondant daisy centers with Wilton’s Food Writer.

Wilton Food Writer

To save time and materials in not making a batch of icing when I needed only a couple tablespoons, I used Wilton’s Ready-to-Decorate Buttercream icing in a piping can.  I’m really surprised how much I loved the taste.  It tastes very good, like you wouldn’t mind if your entire cupcake was covered in it.  That’s my taste test.  It was convenient to have on hand when I just needed a touch to adhere the fondant daisies to the bonnets and to make a tiny amount of icing to use for the lips, eyelashes and bow for the back of the bonnet.  The icing comes in nine colors and has four interchangeable tips.  I think it’s…

Wilton Ready-to-Decorate Icing

Back to the bonnets…

Peeps DIY Decorations Easter Bonnet-6564text

To place the fondant ring over the bunny ears, work from the under side gently tucking the bottoms of the ears up through the center hole.  If you try to pull the ears upwards from the top, the marshmallow will stretch and tear.

TIP - To take care of those open marshmallow wounds on the sides of the Peeps that occur when separating the marshmallows, take sanding sugar in the same color as the Peep and dip it into the sugar.  Regular granulated sugar can also be tinted with decorating colors. 

Peeps DIY Decorations-6565

The edible grass is made from flaked coconut that has been tinted using a bright green decorating color.  Melt Wilton’s Key Lime Pie Candy Melts and mix it into the coconut.  Holy moly!  These little limey green discs are good!  No, they are incredibly good.  No wait!  They are unbelievably good!  Boy, are they good.

Wiltons Key Lime Candy Melts

And because a gal’s got to look her best for Easter brunch, cheery pink lipstick and mascara is a must!

Peeps DIY Decorations Brunch-6612-2

Pink martinis, anyone?  Well, just one to be polite.

Peeps DIY Decorations Martini-6626

Peeps DIY Decorations-6631text

Still hungry?  Brunch is served!

Disclaimer: I received the Peeps, Key Lime Pie Candy Melts, Ready-to-Decorate Icing, and Food Writers from Wilton as a Wilton Brand Ambassador.  This post was something I created for my own pleasure and I hope it gave you some ideas to dress up your Easter brunches.  All concepts, commentary, photography and product opinions are my own.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Whimsical Springtime Brunch

You might think I’ve gone down the Easter bunny hole or have spring fever but when I saw the Spring Flower Cupcake pan from Wilton, I immediately thought of quiche flowers for a springtime brunch and not cupcakes!  Hard to believe, I know.

Wilton Spring Cupcake Pan Brunch

With the beautiful tulips, lilies and freesias that grace my table, I wanted to add a touch of the garden to everyone’s plate but in a whimsical and unexpected way. Using the cupcake pan is a fun way to do it.

Wilton Spring Cupcake Pan Brunch

Hopefully, this post will give you some ideas for your springtime entertaining.  Red rose

I made a delicious smoked salmon quiche recipe without the crust and ladled it into each cup. 

Wilton Spring Cupcake Pan Brunch

They popped right out! 

“Ta-Da!”

Wilton Spring Cupcake Pan Brunch

Since I used the white part of the leeks in the recipe, I decided to try out an idea I had.  My thought was to blanch the remaining green leaf parts of the leeks and cut out leaf and stem shapes to add decoration to the quiche.  It worked great!

Wilton Spring Cupcake Pan Brunch

To do this, detach each leek leaf keeping it as wide as you can by finding the notched part of the leaf and running a swallow cut from the notch towards the root end.  The entire leaf will peel off perfectly without any tears.

To create the leek leaves:

Place leaves one at a time in boiling water, rib side up.  I used a large frying pan so the leaf could lay flat.  Pressing lightly on the back of the rib also helps to open up the leaf as the curve of the leaf relaxes from being wound around the others.  In a few seconds the leaf will lay flat.  Remove from the water to a cutting surface.

Take the tip of a sharp knife or scissors and cut out leaf and stem shapes.  If you want to do this at a later time, store the leaves flat on a plate, covered, in the refrigerator.  Cutting the shapes can also be done a day or two ahead and stored as described.

Wilton Spring Cupcake Pan Brunch

To add a little more fun to the quiches …

Wilton Spring Cupcake Pan Brunch

I piped on tinted cream cheese with a #14  star tip.  Sour cream or crème fraiche could also be used depending what would blend with the quiche ingredients. 

Wilton Spring Cupcake Pan Brunch

I also dressed up mini bagels decorated to resemble daisies to add yet another touch of whimsy to the table. 

Here’s the steps -

Wilton Spring Cupcake Pan Brunch

1.  Place whipped cream cheese into a pastry bag fitted with a plain round #11 decorating tip and pipe petals.

2.  Take a knife with a rounded tip and press each ‘petal’ towards the center of the bagel.

3.  To finish, cut a round of smoked salmon with a cookie cutter and place over the center of the bagel.  Top with a few capers.

Brunch is served!

Wilton Spring Cupcake Pan Brunch

Although I didn’t show it, I’d recommend a garden salad with shredded carrots and a light herbal vinaigrette to accompany the quiche along with big, juicy, sweet strawberries which weren’t available when I wrote this post.  Red grapes and blueberries had to suffice and, I have to say, were equally delicious.  :)

Disclaimer stuff– You can probably figure this out but, as a Wilton brand ambassador, I receive compensation for my Wilton sponsored posts and in addition, for products I might choose to feature.  With that said, I choose products that I think you will like and of course, I really like them too, in fact I get giddy.  All concepts, commentary, photography and opinions are mine.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Graduation Party Styling and DIY For Shutterfly

What do music themed cake pops with DIY washi taped covered sticks, DIY pennant cupcake toppers, DIY saxophone floral arrangements, Shutterfly graduation party announcements, thank you notes and “To Do” list party favors all have in common?  They’ve all come together today on the blog to throw one swell party and you’re invited!

Graduation Party-

Can you believe it’s time to start planning for graduation celebrations? Last week I was very busy baking, styling and photographing a project in collaboration with Shutterfly to mark these momentous occasions in our children’s lives.  It’s such an exciting time for everyone and the graduate should be made to feel special with plenty of pomp for all their accomplishments and commitments and for a job well done! 

When Shutterfly approached me to style a party to celebrate graduation I went directly to their graduation announcements page to gather my first piece of inspiration.  I quickly got into the school spirit upon seeing the Petite Lemon announcement card, Formal Band, with a pennant and banner in its design.  It spoke “marching band” to me and fit perfectly with my idea of honoring all those who participated in the marching band during their high school years.  I know first-hand how dedicated these musicians are to working as a team!

Graduation Announcement confetti-6200

It was really fun creating my own card.  I uploaded my own photo, (yes, that’s a pic of one of two drum majors in our family but the name has been slightly changed as requested by the model, as was the address :) Next, I chose the text – “Strike Up The Band” and all the pertinent party information that followed.  I also chose the font style and was able to try out different looks to preview.

I love the back of the card as much as the front.  I wrote “He did it!” and uploaded a more casual photo.  I could have chosen a patterned background on the card but a solid ground with those three simple words just seemed to suit my son perfectly.

Shutterfly Graduation Announcements
Shutterfly Facebook page

Thinking what the next step ahead will be for the graduate , I chose Special Tassel note cards with envelopes because of their classic and masculine feel in design, with the purpose of writing those thank you notes that graduates should do within the week of receiving a gift.  When that week is up I start giving those friendly motherly reminders, if needed.  Please tell me I’m not alone!  :)

Shutterfly Graduation Thank You Notes

And since fellow graduate friends always drop by for a party, why not give them a little party favor to help them organize and prepare their collegiate  “To Do’s” and “To Buy’s” specifically “For College”?  I chose Colorful List 5x7 Notepads. It was easy to add “For College” when choosing my text and font to the pads.  Maybe I should have had the pad read, “Plan ahead and shop early so you’re not running around at the last minute buying stuff for your dorm the night before you leave causing your mom to go a little nutso.” but I don’t think that would have fit but that’s what I was really thinking.  :)

Shutterfly Colorful List 5x7 Notepad

So, strike up the band! With the graduation announcements, thank you notes and thoughtful party favors all ordered it’s time for the party to begin!

Graduation Decorations Party Table final-

The marching band theme fit perfectly with a spirited old-school styling for the dessert table with the school’s colors of red and blue.

  • The Back Drop  - created out of twisted crepe paper
  • The Floral Centerpiece – my son’s alto sax served as the DIY floral center piece (I’ll show you how to put this together without damaging the instrument)
  • Cake Pops – placed on long DIY color-coordinated sticks to resemble mallets and decorated with treble clefs
  • High-top frosted cupcakes baked in paper cups with DIY pennant toppers
  • Striped paper cups in red and white surround the punch bowl (punch bowls are making a strong retro comeback lately)
  • Academic medals, scholarship tassels and the Drum Major’s whistle add to the table decorations
  • 1” round DIY confetti in red and blue
  • DIY Pennants to hang on the front of the table
  • White balloons
  • and room left open on the table to hold gifts that guests will bring

DIY Musical Instrument Floral Arrangement

DIY Musical Instrument Floral Arrangement Saxophone

Things You’ll Need -

  • Saxophone or belled instrument
  • Styrofoam cup
  • Floral foam
  • Scissors
  • Flowers
  • Ribbon (optional)

DIY Musical Instrument Floral Arrangement Saxophone

Take the styrofoam cup and cut it to fit in the bell of the instrument.
Cut floral foam to fit in the cup.  Soak the foam in water 5 minutes.  Add it to the cup and begin to add flowers.

DIY Musical Instrument Floral Arrangement Saxophone

Using hardier flowers such as carnations, the arrangement can be made a couple days ahead.  Take the cup out of the instrument and store it in the refrigerator to maintain freshness.

DIY Musical Instrument Floral Arrangement Saxophone

DIY Music Themed Treble Clef Decorated Cake Pops

Cake Pops are always fun to have at a party.  Placing them on long sticks makes for a more dramatic presentation and using washi tape adds to your decoration and it couldn’t be easier to do…

DIY Music Themed Treble Clef Decorated Cake Pops

Music Cake Pops sticks-1

Music Cake Pops bite-1

DIY Music Themed Treble Clef Decorated Cake Pops

DIY Pennant Flag Cupcake Toppers

DIY Pennant Flag Cupcake Toppers

DIY Pennant Flag Cupcake Toppers

DIY Pennant Flag Cupcake Toppers

DIY Pennant Flag Cupcake Toppers

DIY Pennant Flag Cupcake Toppers

Shutterfly has great gifts for the graduate too – blankets, mugs, wall art, books, iPhone and iPad cases and all with your photos.  They give you the ideas to help you make a memorable gift.

Acknowledgments – Thank you to the Tesoro High School Music Boosters for the use of the Tesoro Entertainment Units shako and plume for the photos.  It brought back such great memories of my years serving in the ranks as a “plumer”.  My appreciation and thanks to Shelly Stephan for securing the contra-“band.” xoxo

Friday, March 21, 2014

Wilton’s Twist Quick Coupler Set – A Review

All good things come with a twist – a dance, a game and of course a twist in one’s cocktail.  Here’s another one -

When I opened my generous box of Wilton goodies with cake and decorating supplies, I was very intrigued by their product called the Twist Quick Coupler Set so I decided to give it a try and write a review.

Wilton Twist Quick Coupler Set-6075ps

If you’re new to using decorating tips with a pastry bag or even a parchment cone, a traditional standard coupler comes in two parts – the threaded part that goes inside the decorating bag and protrudes slightly from the cut end point of the bag, and the ring which twists onto the threaded coupler holding a decorating tip in place on the end of the coupler.  This system allows the decorator to change decorating tips and therefore design patterns.

Wilton’s Twist Quick Coupler is much larger than a traditional standard coupler due to it’s half turn locking mechanism. 

Wilton Twist Quick Coupler Set-6085pstx

This set also has an ‘extra’ part compared to the traditional coupler.  The tall middle part, in the above photo, is like a go-between to the threaded coupler part that goes inside the pastry bag and the ring that secures a tip.  On the Twist Quick Coupler, the ‘ring’ of the traditional coupler is replaced by the purple cap.  

The little bumps inside the purple cap fits with the spiral grooves of the tall part of the go-between coupler thus enabling a half twist to lock and release.  I was surprised how much I really did like this.

Wilton Twist Quick Coupler Set-6050

Here’s the quick coupler all ready to decorate!

Wilton Twist Quick Coupler Set-6052Wilton Twist Quick Coupler Set-6057

It also comes with an additional purple cap that twists onto the coupler end, without a tip, to store the icing in the bag for a later use.  Although this is a good idea, personally, I think the storage cap should accommodate the decorating tip to still be attached to the coupler.  The cap should be able to go over the tip and coupler combo.  Just my preference.

Wilton Twist Quick Coupler Set-6042

Otherwise, I’m doing this -

Wilton Twist Quick Coupler Set-6068ps

…sticking a toothpick in the end of the tip that I plan on still using.  It’s a quick fix  because I don’t want the opening of my tip to dry out.  The toothpick trick just works for small round openings but it’s the tips I usually work with.  If the storage cap was just a little longer it would at least take care of one tip no matter what size opening the tip had. 

So here is my recap.

The things I like about the Twist Quick Coupler -

1.  It really does allow for quicker changes of decorating tips when working with a single color.

2.  If ease of finger and thumb dexterity is a challenge, then this makes it much easier than the repetitive motion of twisting a standard coupler ring on and off.

3.  Sometimes marrying the standard coupler and ring can get wonky.  This is completely eliminated with this set.

4.  The tall ‘in-between’ coupler piece, as I call it, secures the icing in the bag like nobody’s business when attached to the internal coupler.  I can’t foresee any icing making its way out of that connection.

5.  A storage cap is included with the coupler set to seal the icing in the bag for later use.

4.  Removing the internal coupler to clean is easy with just a squeeze at the end of the bag in the opposite direction (towards the top of the bag).  This isn’t always an easy thing to do with a standard coupler.  I’m all for quick and easy clean up at the end of a project.  Yay!

5.  Because it’s larger, it’s less likely to end up in the garbage disposal by accident.  I can’t tell you how many tips and couplers I’ve ground up not knowing they had fallen into the dark abyss where only my hand fits to retrieve it.  Yuck.

My only improvement is what I stated above -

1.  Make the storage cover long enough to accommodate a decorating tip still attached to the coupler.

Of course, the unit costs more than the little 2-piece standard coupler and takes up more room to store but it is nice to have at least one or two in your decorating arsenal.

I hope this review was helpful to you.  :)

So, tell me, what do you think of the product?  Here’s a link from Wilton to see the Twist Quick Coupler Set in use.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Wilton Sweet Treat Team

I’ve got some news that I’m pretty proud of.  I was asked by Wilton, to be one of a dozen bloggers chosen to be a Wilton Ambassador and a member of their Wilton Sweet Treat Team!  Yay! 

Sweet_Treat_Team_Image

This is a huge thrill and honor for me since I’ve been using their products for over thirty years! Yes, I know this dates me but I feel I’m in very good company. 

Before I was married, I learned cake decorating using their techniques and products.  The Wilton Yearbook was my decorating bible.  I bought one every year and I’d spend hours slowly combing through the pages.  I’d teach myself new techniques that I hadn’t learned in class and just from being familiar with the basics, new tricks were easy to pick up.  It was my inspiration that started my passion for baking, decorating cakes, cookies and desserts.

So, what does it mean besides that I get to proudly display their cool logo on my side bar and what does this mean for you, the readers of my blog?

Well, for the next year, I’ll have the fun of creating all things yummy with new and existing products that Wilton sends me which I’ll post on the blog.  Every box is like Christmas morning!  I have no idea what’s in it until I open it. It also means we can create together as I’ll be hosting some awesome give-aways sponsored by Wilton just for you!

Wilton Sweet Treat Team

I’ll be giving my honest opinions and recommendations regarding products that I have an opportunity to work with and to show you.  I could never do anything less and Wilton insists! 

I’ll share with you one thing right away - if your’re a candy maker and use Wilton’s Candy Melts, the Dark Cocoa Raspberry is out-of-this-world.  Having the bag open in the kitchen is heaven scent.  You’ll find yourself going over to the counter just to take a little sniff now and then.

And take a look at those pastel sprinkles!!  That’s what I call Springtime!

So are you ready to find about some products you may have not known about before, get some creative ideas (no pressure there) and enter some terrific give-aways?

I am… with YOU!

What would you like to see in our first give-away?

Leave a comment and tell me!

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