It’s Wedding Season, Kid!

I don’t know about everyone else, but my Facebook news feed has seemingly transformed overnight. The days of browsing through study abroad pics and fraternity formals are forever gone.  These pictures have been replaced with professionally filtered photos filled with peonies, lace, and a whole lotta mason jars. Everyone is getting hitched. And everyone is posting about it. Now if you’re someone who says, “I’m so sick of everyone posting about their rings, and their engagement photos, and their weddings and their babies. No one cares!” you’re a liar. You care. I care. Let’s be real, we all care. If you’re not stalking your Facebook friend’s acquaintance’s wedding pictures, you’re not doing it right. (Or you just have more productive things to do with your time, but either way you should! It’s fun.)

mason jars

Now I don’t want anyone to get any ideas, I’m not in any rush to get married. Mom has plenty of time to plan that cake ;). I do not do this kind of stalking for research. I do this out of sheer curiosity and fascination, the same reason I watch 4 Weddings and Say Yes to the Dress. It’s fascinating to see such a large event in someone’s life play out. From the ring to the table settings, it is all very interesting to me. It becomes even more interesting when you’re actually asked to be a part of someone’s big day. 2 years ago I found out I was going to be a bridesmaid in one of my best friend’s wedding parties. This was my first time as a bridesmaid and I wanted to do it right! As a bridesmaid there are two very important pre-wedding events to plan: the Bachelorette Party and the Wedding Shower. The latter is the event I actually remember clearly, so that is the one I’m going to share with you all. KIDDING Mom! I’m writing about the shower, because it featured one of Mom’s most fancy creations…obviously.

Ashley's cake

The dessert spread

When we were delegating shower responsibilities, I went ahead and volunteered to take care of the food. SURPRISE. In doing this I figured I would graciously volunteer my mother to make the cake. She graciously accepted. Mom was already day dreaming about creating a bride shaped cake (veil and all), when I had break the news to her that this shower had a theme, and the cake had to follow suit. Try explaining “Rustic Chic” to someone. It’s tough! After a quick consultation with Pinterest, I somehow brought her up to speed. She had a plan that included twine, ribbon, and canvas flowers, so all systems were a go.

ashley's cake 2

Rustic Chic Cake

AS you can see the end product was awesome. She got so many compliments on not just the appearance, but the taste. I was beginning to write a detailed description of how my mom made this one, but then I realized writing about the memories that came with her cake is so much more fun. By the time of the shower it really hit all of us that one of my closest friends I’ve known since pre-school was getting married.  HOW CRAZY IS THAT?  It was pretty surreal for all of us. It seems like just yesterday we were at each other’s houses in our pajamas filming our own Jessica Simpson music videos and baking cookies. (We had really crazy Saturday nights in High School.)

titanic

That one time we stayed in and reenacted the titanic on the computer chair…I’ll never let go Jack.

Fast forward to the day of the wedding: We got to the venue early in the morning to prep everything and get ready. I had seen enough Bridezillas episodes to know something was going to go wrong, so I prepared myself for anything: a freakout, a sobfest, someone telling off the planner because napkins weren’t straight enough. NOTHING. She was so cool, calm, and collected. It was her day, her time to be a diva, and yet she was anything but. We had a blast prepping for everything. We all enjoyed a little champagne, getting pampered, hair and makeup done- a feat for my poor makeup artist. She had to deal with a rogue eyelash issue I was having. That’s a story for another day. Today was about Ashley.

Ashley Wedding

Byootiful Bride. Also, notice how skinny i’m attempting to make my arm look.

Right before she was about to walk down the aisle, I think the enormity of everything finally hit her. And by I think, I mean she started breaking down into tears, so it definitely hit her (happy tears obviously.) She looked so beautiful and so happy, and it felt so wonderful to be a part of it all. The ceremony itself was short and sweet, which everyone can appreciate. Because after the party, it’s the after party. That’s right, reception time. If you know Ashley(and I’m sure most of you do, because my family is the only one who reads this,) she loves to sing, so she had no issue convincing the DJ to hand over the mics for some karaoke. While Ashley was blessed with a voice that doesn’t sound like dying cats, my other best friend, Danielle and I cannot say the same. I would like to genuinely apologize to everyone who was smiling so politely when Danielle and I regaled everyone with our butchered version of Mariah Carey’s “Always Be My Baby.” Ash- thanks for having our backs. I’m genuinely surprised guests didn’t complain or throw things. This does not include my Dad. When I asked how we sounded he replied, “It would have sounded a lot better if you didn’t have a microphone.” I’m going to chalk that comment up to the open bar.

wedding singers

If anyone is hiring wedding singers…hit a sister up.

Ashley is now very happily married living with her hubby and two precious angel pups. I couldn’t have asked for a better wedding to be a bridesmaid for the first time. I’m so happy for her, and so thankful we got to be a part of it. From the engagement, to the festivities, to the wedding itself, we made so many wonderful memories. Bring in on wedding season, bring it on.

Ashley sparklers

Happily Ever After 🙂

 

 

*Wedding photos by Stephie Joy Photography

#TBT Who Lives in a Pineapple Under the Sea?

SPONGE BOB SQUARE PANTS! My brother and I loved loved loved Spongebob and the gang. If it was on, you could not tear us  away from the TV. Being that we were 6 years apart, it was rare to find a show we agreed upon, and somehow Spongebob fit that mold. This was no good for Mom. I don’t think she had anything against the show itself. Her problem was Spongebob’s laugh. Every time Spongebob laughed I think a small piece of her soul died. Her biggest mistake was telling us this, because we never missed out on an opportunity to sneak up behind her and release the loudest, most annoying Spongebob-esque laugh we could muster. (Dad was the best at this.) Despite our antics, she knew she was fighting a losing battle, so she embraced the inevitable, and did what she does best: baked some cakes.

sb

Spongebob cake for Nick’s 7th birthday

She found the Spongebob gummy in the candy aisle, and felt inspired. She used pixie sticks for the sand and the water color. For the treasure chest, pirate ship and masts she used the backside of a Hershey bar and drew lines on it to make it look like wooden planks. She cut up a fruit roll up for the sails and the flag at the top of the ship. The treasure was made of Sweet Tart chews. The Swedish fish and gummy octopus were a great touch!

sb2

The chocolate on his face says it all!

The chocolate on his face says it all!

Years later Mom baked another Spongebob cake for my cousin’s birthday. Ashley requested a Spongebob cake for her 18th, further proof of Mr Squarepant’s universal appeal. She used marshmallows for his teeth, Twizzlers for his arms, circular gummies for his pores, and miniature chocolate bars for his belt. The rest she did with icing and voila!

sb1

So lifelike it’s scary.

As time went on and we grew up, our tastes changed and Spongebob was slightly less of a fixture in our household. That being said, we still find time to annoy my mom with a good old fashioned Spongebob laugh every now and again, just for old times’ sake. 😉

 

Aunt Mia’s Patriotic Punch Drunk Cake

What better way to celebrate Aunt Mia’s 40 somethingth birthday and America’s 238th birthday than with a boozy cake? I have a feeling she wouldn’t appreciate me sharing her approximate age much less her picture, but I don’t feel too bad about it because: A. It’s better to ask forgiveness than permission, and B. She doesn’t look a day over 12 years’ old.  Both  Mom AND Dad refuse to go to the grocery store with her anymore because the cashiers always refer to her as their daughter. I for one, feel their pain. It’s tough when you have a sibling who looks eternally 12. Once, when I took my little brother to get a haircut (He was 15, I was 21) the hairstylist asked me how I would like to pay for my SON’s haircut. I stood in open mouth shock, and I almost had a panic attack on the spot.

Alright, alright, was I wearing sweatpants and Crocs that day? Maybe I was. Was I popping an aspirin because my head hurt a little from the night before? Maybe I was. Was I reading good housekeeping? Maybe I was! Even so, I was insulted. I had laughed before when my Mom told her Aunt Mia grocery store tales. Now, I truly felt her pain. Anyway, despite our younger siblings’ Benjamin Button magic, we do not begrudge them birthday cake…

Red, White, and Booze

Red, White, and Booze

Mom  got a Booze Cakes book a year or two ago as a Christmas present from one of her favorite nieces (usefil tip: the key to giving a gift like a cookbook is to make sure you’re around to benefit from the cooking), and she was excited to use it. The recipe is as follows:

Punch Drunk Marble Cake
1 16oz can fruit cocktail in light syrup
¾ c light rum, divided
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
½ c orange juice
¼ c lime juice
½ c milk
4 c all-purpose flour
2 tbl baking powder
¾ tsp salt
Several drops of different shades of food coloring (to suit the occasion)

Spiked Whipped Cream
3 c (1pint) heavy cream
5 tbl sugar
2 tbl Curacao (or other liqueur)

Finishing
½ c sprinkles

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Grease and flour 3 9-inch round cake pans.  Set aside a punch bowl larger than the cake pans.
  2. Soak fruit cocktail in ½ cup rum.  Cover and refrigerate.
  3. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar 3 to 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs.  Mix in orange and lime juices, milk and ¼ cup rum.  Minx in flour, baking powder , and salt.  Pour batter into pans.  Add a few drops of food coloring to each pan; swirl coloring through batter to create a marbleized look.  Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
  4. For the whipped cream:  In a mixing bowl, beat cream and sugar until stiff peaks form.  Gently fold in Curacao.

Place one layer of cake in the punch bowl.  Layer cram and rum-soaked fruit on top.  Repeat with the next two layers.  Top with sprinkles.  Serve in individual punch cups with big spoons

Punch Drunk sparkler

Punch Drunk done right.

What Mom did to make it her own Patriotic Punch Drunk Birthday Cake:

“Since it was summer and the fourth I purchased the fruit cocktail with cherries, peaches, and pears, I added fresh blueberries (about ¼ cup) and   the Bacardi.

I substituted sweetened lime juice and added a little (1 TBL.) fresh lime juice to it.

I used Simply orange/tangerine juice.  Since it was the fourth of July I went with red, and blue food coloring and left one pan without.  I added about 16-18 drops and swirled with a chopstick.

I baked 25 minutes.

I whipped the cream and sugar.  I folded in 1and ½ tablespoons blue Curacao.  To the other 1/3 topping I added 1 tablespoon Coconut rum.

I placed the red layer in the bottom of the bowl and used a toothpick to poke a few holes in it.  I added 1/3 of the fruit and poured 1/3 of the syrup. Then spread a third of the whipped topping (with Curacao).

I added the white layer and repeated the holes/fruit/topping.

I added the blue layer and fruit with the whipped topping (coconut rum)

Punch Drunk cake

YUM

I used crystallized sugar and red sugar to sprinkle on top.  The firework swirl of fresh blueberries exploded from a cherry center.  Additional fresh cherry halves accented the sides of the cake.  I placed it in the refrigerator until the celebration.  The rummy syrup absorbed into the layers.  When it came time to server I sliced it vs. scooping it.  Extremely festive and enjoyed by all!  The next time I do this I’ll use all fresh fruit with simple syrup.  I think it would totally work!”

-Mom

Aunt Mia and Mom

Mom with the ageless wonder, herself.

I don’t know about everyone else, but for me booze + cake, when done right = my happy place. Hope everyone had a Happy 4th of July, and Happy Birthday Aunt Mia!

#TBT in Honor of the 4th

This holiday always tends to sneak up on me. I’ve been dying for summer all winter long, and now June is already gone! The assortment of cake photos Mom and I have been digging through are a testament to how quickly time flies. We have both been scouring our highly organized official family archives (aka 2 Tupperware boxes filled to the brim with pictures that have no assorted rhyme or reason to them) to find 4th of July cake pics, and to be honest we couldn’t come up with much. I think this is for 2 reasons: 1. My Aunt Mia’s birthday is July 1st so we usually celebrate with a birthday cake around this time of year. 2. The 4th is a time for watermelon and Popsicles and summertime treats(Check out my last post if you want to make some Amerikabobs for the 4th), so we don’t usually celebrate this one with a cake.  That said, we did end up finding a  #TBT  worthy 4th of July cake circa 2000.

Happy 4th

4th of July Kids’ Cake. (That red blob is a firework, people. )

Mom gave us the reigns on this one, and let the kids decorate our very own firework cake. Nothing too fancy, although at the time a double layer cake was a big deal for us.  I asked Mom if she helped us at all to decorate this one, and she said that we did it all on our own. I find that hard to believe from the woman who  artistically constructed all of my poster boards and planet dioramas throughout elementary and middle school, but I’ll take her word for it. Even with help from Mom, for an 11 and 5 year old it doesn’t look half bad!  If I were home in Florida for the 4th this year I would force my little bro to recreate this bad boy with me to see what we came up with. I don’t think it would improve too much, but you never know. 

#TBT

#TBT Wasn’t he the cutest???

As for this year, I’m going to be spending my time watching the fireworks in the city, trying to hit up everything I can on this Thrillist list and praying to the Big Man that the rain holds off enough for me to enjoy a roof party or two.

Fireworks over the Hudson for last year's 4th

Fireworks over the Hudson for last year’s 4th

watermelon

How I plan on spending my day tomorrow weather permitting!

Hope everyone has a happy 4th, and stay tuned for Aunt Mia’s birthday cake!

USA USA USA!

How about that game, right? Best loss ever? While we didn’t win, according to my sources we made it to the next round. So, Go USA!

I have no problem admitting to be a bandwagon soccer fan for this month along with MOST everyone else. I have been chanting, OOing and AHing at every play, and constantly asking my boyfriend questions. What’s a goal differential? Why did that guy do that? So what has to happen for us to go through to the next round? What happened to Landon Donovan? What happens if you get a red card? Are you allowed to bite people? Is that a thing?

In my mind the only biting during the world cup should involve delicious game time snacks. Enter, mom.  As I was having a few beers with my friends watching the big game in a packed bar in St. Mark’s Place, my mom was texting me pictures of her World Cup inspired treats. 

USA Score

1st Half: Cheezeballs de Brazil

World Cup Brazilian Cheese Rolls

Mom came across these amazing cheese rolls at ourbestbites.com -Original link here

Her modified recipe:

1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup tapioca flour/ starch- according to ourbestbites, no substitutions
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 C grated shredded cheese (Mom used mexican cheese because she had  to finish off a bag, but cheddar works too!)
1/4 C grated Parmesan cheese

Optional:  Mom added some rosemary on the top.

Mom followed ourbestbites’ recipe pretty closely. First preheating oven to 400 degrees.  Blending egg, milk, oil, tapioca flour, and salt in blender.  Adding cheeses and pulsing twice.Then she sprinkled a bit of parmesan cheese on top along with some rosemary.

She baked for 15-20 minutes until golden, and served em fresh out the oven just in time for kickoff!

These made about 16 rolls, but she used 7 to plate in the form of a soccer ball. The soccer ball string is green pepper slivers, USA is sweet ‘lil red peppers (they happened to be in just the right shapes to cut the way she did), the SCORE is cut from All American cheese (those letters are cookie cutouts she has), the soccer net is Snyder butter pretzels.  The original recipe suggests to eat the cheese balls in one sitting because they don’t keep well, but Mom will take a soccer ball to the face, before throwing food away. The woman doesn’t do it. She figures out a way to reuse every leftover. In this case she reheated the leftover cheese rolls in the toaster oven with some american cheese toasted on top.  To each their own!

And now for a little something sweet for the 2nd half…

USA

Second Half: Amerikabobs

…How about some Patriotic Fruit Kebobs ? These are a treat she made last year, but I figured they were very apropos given the particular patriotic World Cup vibes we’re all feeling right about now.  This one is so easy, even I could do it! All you need is some fresh blue berries, raspberries, marshmallows, and kebob sticks. 

Happy Snacking and GO USA!

Mom in Rare Form for Father’s Day

I live more than 900 miles away from my family. I Googled it. That said, I understandably get severe FOMO on fun family events I cannot attend. FOMO= Fear of Missing Out, and it is something that has plagued me my entire life. I am going to take this a step further. With my family living so far away, and being so awesome at cooking/baking it is not uncommon for me to suffer from a form of FOMO I just invented called FOMOOF, or Fear of Missing Out on Food.  To give you a few examples: Co-workers get sushi without me? FOMOOF. Roommates get fro-yo and no invite? FOMOOF. Family makes delicious Father’s Day feast while I’m not living in the same state? Major FOMOOF.

Cuz Dad totally rox

Cuz Dad totally rox

As sad as I was to be missing out on Father’s Day celebrations and FOOD, it made me so happy to hear how everyone contributed. My little brother made his card on the computer, because, let’s face it, Hallmark is trying to bleed us all dry holiday by holiday. Mom was in charge of not just the cake, but the shrimp stuffed shiitake mushrooms and bacon mashed potatoes. According to my little brother, once you go bacon, you never go back, so apparently bacon mashed potatoes will be the only kind in our household from now on. No complaints here! And while Dad spent the afternoon in his domain grilling his favorite, ribeyes, Mom was inspired to create a steak of her own. In other words, a steak cake. Yes, a cake shaped like a steak.

“For a Rare Dad! Happy Father’s Day!”

Obviously she used red velvet, since Dad likes his stake medium rare (or as he says “still moo-ing.”) She had some frosting in a can in the fridge already, so she added some cream cheese to it, because as we all know, you can’t have red velvet cake without cream cheese frosting. She melted some chocolate chips and marbled it into the frosting to give it its steak-like color. She also mixed in a bit of red icing for some added pinkish tone. She cooled the steak portion of the cake on a broiler pan to give it some grill marks and used a toothpick to accentuate the lines. The bone is made of a rice crispie treat and the marrow is crushed up peanut butter Oreos. She also crushed up some some oreos and pecans for the salt and pepper seasoning. She used green Dots as parsley for the garnish. Dad was sure to take the finished product  out to the grill to get a picture of the cake in its natural setting.

Medium Rare

Medium Rare

After the feast it was gift time.

My Dad is not tough to shop for. There are 3 important questions I ask myself when I’m picking out a gift for Dad:

1. Does this gift have anything to do with Florida Gator Football?

2. Does this gift relate to beer or the act of drinking beer in any way?

3. Is this gift a Webber grill?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then I am good to go. Gift purchased, no more questions asked. To give you an idea, Dad’s ultimate gift would probably be some sort of fusion between a Webber grill and a Kegorator that played the UF fight song every time you opened it. (Patent Pending?) Maybe next year Dad…For this year part 1 of his gift was a pair of brand new Birkenstocks. Birkenstocks are his go to shoe, and I can’t blame him. They’re comfy and they match just about everything. Dad is also one of those really classy guys that tends to accessorize his Berks with white tube socks- a real treat for the eyes.

Look out ladies! Here he comes!

Look out ladies! Here he comes!

However, the highlight of the night had to be part 2 of his gift which were ZZ Top tickets for him and the little bro. As he opened his card and the tickets fell out he attempted to read them sans bifocals, which caused some initial confusion. The only font big enough for him to see was the Lady Gaga advertisement on the bottom of the ticket, so for 30 seconds he was slightly worried. To his relief, my brother explained to him that they were not going to be seeing Mother Monster, but rather they were going to see ZZ Top.  He was VERY excited. Success. When I asked Dad why he would’ve been so disappointed in Lady Gaga tickets, he replied, “Well she’s no Gwen Stefani.” Duly noted, Dad. Duly noted.  

You can't tell in this picture, but they too are wearing their Birkenstocks with sandals.

You can’t tell in this picture, but they too are wearing their Birkenstocks with sandals.

steak cake 2

“Grilled to Confection” -the caption Mom suggested for this one.

I created this blog mostly to display my Mom’s cakes, but partly to suppress the family FOMO that creeps up on me sometimes. Whether or not you got to spend this Father’s Day with your families, I hope everyone had a happy one. And if anybody is craving some steak cake, head over to Mom and Dad’s. They assured me they had leftovers! 🙂

Like Mother, Sort of like Daughter: My Short-lived Pastry Chef Career

A few years ago on this very day, the fam and I threw Mom a luau for her SURPRISE 50th “30th” birthday party. It was pretty incredible. Everyone pitched in. The Aunts decorated, Grandma hosted, Dad cooked, and the family partied. Oh and did I mention? I was in charge of the…CAKE. I know what you’re thinking, I had a big apron to fill.  Apart from the cake it was my job to keep Mom busy on the big day while the whole family prepared for her arrival. I envisioned the classic surprise scenario where I walk Mom up to the front door, and when we open it family and friends jump out of their hiding place screaming SURPRISE!!! Classic, right? To my dismay, my dad could not  multitask. It was too much for him to coordinate the whole everyone hides their car situation while he was also getting his BBQ on. I was  LIVID. What is the point of a surprise party if there is no big surprise reveal moment?!?! Whilst Mom was very concerned about her laundry, completely unaware of the looming birthday bash, I called/texted dear old Dad to have a little chat.  It went something along the lines of, “Sure fine, no one needs to hide you know with it being a SURPRISE PARTY and all.” Textbook passive aggression. (Like Mother, Like Daughter.)This passive aggressive chat soon turned aggressive, and I am not proud of the crazy party planner lady I had somehow transformed into at that moment.

Surprise5

Kebab Master Extraordinaire

I should really have more faith in my family. Dad, here is your apology not only in writing, but on the internet no less! I’m sorry. My beautiful family ended up turning the traditional surprise method upside down. They completely embraced the summer block party vibe. The line of cars surrounding Grandma’s house, instead of ruining the surprise, made it way better. The family made huge poster boards with decorations, everyone was wearing leis and flowers, and Dad was right out front manning the grill like Bobby Flay. When we drove onto the scene mom saw the crowd and pumped the brakes in shock at the sight of what was essentially her own parade. Everyone was screaming SURPRISE and HAPPY BIRTHDAY and YOU BROUGHT THE BEER, RIGHT?!  That last one liner had to be from one of my Grandpas, I’m sure with a beer already in hand. They’re hilarious. Surprise4 Anyhoo,  I wholeheartedly recommend this approach as an alternative to the traditional surprise method. Especially if hiding 15 cars in a driveway is nigh impossible. It knocked my initial vision out of the park, and my mom was genuinely floored. Word to the wise, though: if the individual you’re surprising is prone to violence, arm yourself with padding. I think I still have a bruise from my mom’s punch (yes…punch.) for tricking her. Surprise1

Surprise2

Oh,  and in case you missed it, I was in charge of the CAKE! I opted for a strawberry flavored Duncan Hines mix (Mom swears by Duncan, sorry Betty!) with homemade vanilla frosting. This cake made me realize how much hard work my mom puts into these things. Good Lord, I spent about 3 hours at Grandma’s just frosting this bad boy. In lieu of the theme, I made a hula girl cake. Publix Bakery offers a service where they will turn any photo into an edible photo. My mom is camera shy, so it was pretty tough to find a head on glamour shot. I ended up opting for her senior high school yearbook pic because it was the only one I could find and it made me LOL.

homemade vanilla buttercream frosting, sprees, airheads, nerds, twizzler straws

homemade vanilla buttercream frosting, sprees, airheads, nerds, twizzler straws

I then created a hula girl using frosting (a mix of yellow and red food coloring gave her that lovely golden skin tone you see there.) I used nerds for her lei and dots for her bathing suit top. The hula skirt was made out of a giant green Twizzlers creation I found on the candy aisle. I lined the side of the cake with sprees for some color and did my best attempt at a wavelike texture with the icing. The surfboard and flowers are made of air heads flattened and cut out with scissors.

Mom (left) Aunt Cris with her cupcakes (right)-please note coconut bra.

Mom (left) Aunt Cris with her cupcakes (right)-please note coconut bra.

Like mother like daughter? Eh, not quite. I know Mom would’ve been a bit more patient than I was, making sure every line was straight and every detail was perfect. She probably would have also found a way to avoid her arms resembling a yellow mutant, but hey, I tried, ok? The problem was, my eye was on the prize, and when the prize is cake, it can be pretty tough to focus on the intricacies of pastry art.   The point is we had a blast, and everyone enjoyed the cake and the memories that came with it. Happy Birthday Mom, and here’s to many more Luaus! 😉