wild west inspired sweets

wild-west-cowboy-cakes

So I’m planning a wild west hoe down for a very excited little boy turning three in a few weeks {can’t believe my little one is almost three years old!} and I came across these while looking for cake inspiration.

The first is from Edibly Divine. I love the use of the handkerchief and denim. The second is from Sugar Diva Cakes and my favorite part is the cow hide {I won’t even attempt the cowboy hat}. And the third is from The Mixing Bowl. These are obviously the easiest to pull off since I have cookie cutters (available in our shoppe) for the longhorn cattle and the boot. I like the idea of a normal yummy frosting and then a fondant die cut that can easily be removed if the guest doesn’t care for it.

If you want to see the invite and table decor (complete with tin wares and denim placemats) we’ll be using, check out our wild west birthday theme.

UPDATE: The Sugar Diva shared more detail on how to make her beautiful cake. Here’s what she had to say:

“The hat cake is a 5″ round, 3″ high. I carved off the sides a little to make it look more oval, then I carved the middle top “V” and rounded the sides off a little too. The brim is a 9″ gumpaste/fondant mix circle that I had dry on top of a real hat brim (upside down). I covered the hat with plastic wrap so that the fondant wouldn’t fall through and let it dry there. I actually took the idea from here, but I made my own twist to it because I think that one is taller and flatter at the top than I wanted. I textured it before it dried with a new textured foam mat, like the one you’d use to put babies to play on, the ones with the letters. The other cakes are 8″ (Cow print) and 10″ (Corral).”

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lollipop & panda bear cookies

lollipop-panda-bear-cookies

My oldest son’s last day of preschool was this past Friday and I volunteered to provide the end of year treat. His class was loving called the Panda Bear class so I, naturally, wanted to make Panda Bear cookies. I had everything ready. I baked the lollipop cookies a day in advance and I had all my cookie decorations ready to go… or so I thought. Long story short, I fell asleep Thursday night while reading the boys a book and didn’t wake up until 12:30 a.m. {Oh yeah!}

After a large cup of coffee I pulled out all of my decorating supplies to find that the black icing I needed for my panda bear was in fact gel… it came out slimy! So plan B was quickly devised. I had just enough black icing to make one panda bear and the rest became lollipops. {This is precisely the reason you don’t promise anything specific when baking for these types of things!}

Okay, okay, so down to business. Both kinds of cookies started out the same way. I used the lollipop cookie pan from Wilton; just make sure your dough is only about half the size of the indention as the cookie will spread. And, make sure that your cookie is fairly thick so that your lollipop stick will hold the cookie up once it cools.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Can cream cheese or vanilla icing
  • Colorful sprinkles
  • Tube black writing icing (for the panda bear)
  • Mini Oreo cookies (for the panda bear ears)
  • Chocolate chips (one for each panda bear eye; use dairy free for kids with allergies)
  • Brown M&M (for the panda bear nose; use dollop of chocolate icing or leave off for kids with allergies)
  • Resealable (freezer weight) bag
  • #4 icing tip
  • Icing tip connectors (available in craft and baking stores)

And here are the easy steps:

  1. Snip the corner of your resealable bag, insert your connector and add on your icing tip.
  2. Place about two large spoonfuls of icing into the resealable bag and pipe an edge around each cookie. (Tip: Go slowly so that your icing clings to the edge of your cookie. Sometimes when they cool they’ll become concave.)
  3. Place about four large spoonfuls of icing in a microwave bowl and heat for 15-17 seconds. The icing will be a little soupy, but will pour easily into your cookie and will dry flat.
  4. Once your icing has set completely, at least one hour (less if refrigerated), you can decorate.
  5. For the lollipop, simply take your icing bag with the #4 connector and pipe a spiral on the top of your cookie. Immediately apply your crystal sprinkles.
  6. For the panda bear, pipe two dots and apply the Oreos as the ears. Next, using the black writing icing, draw the black eye area and the nose/mouth area (using the picture as a guide). Quickly apply the chocolate chip eyes and M&M nose.

As for packaging, make sure your cookies are allowed to dry for at least four to five hours before inserting them in clear cello bags and tying them with colorful ribbons.

My son’s class seemed to enjoy them and I hope you will too. Happy baking!

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creative pirate party ideas

pirate-birthday-party-invitations 

Aargh! If you’re looking for a modern twist on the ever so popular pirate party, you’ve come to the right place. Round up your crew and take a look at these:

The pirate ship invitations and pirate skull invitations are both our exclusive designs. And not only do we offer vibrant colors and personalization, we designed the back of our invitations too… plus we offer color envelopes all for as low as $22!  

The table décor is a blend of high quality paper product designers. We just loved the paper crepe placemats {I’ve used mine more than once!}, the red polka dot napkins, the red stripe plates and cups {running out of breath}… you get the picture! And of course we offer all of them in our shoppe.

The ship is a real wooden toy from Step 2, complete with five pirate figurines. {My sons love it and it’s quite sturdy.} And the pirate flag in the background can be created without sewing a stitch. Read our step-by-step instructions and watch a how to video!

And the pirate pop, well… that is my creation {blush}. Those who read me often know that my youngest son has severe food allergies. So when my oldest wanted a pirate party, I had to create something fun that didn’t have milk or egg in the recipe. The rice crispy treat is of course the perfect answer and then I just embellished it with my favorite cream cheese icing. Read all the details on how to pull this fabulous treat off for your little pirate.

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American flag cupcakes

We should all treasure our American holidays: Memorial Day, July 4, Veteran’s Day. I’m proud that as a country we celebrate those who serve to protect us and those who have fallen to save us. 

These cupcakes are my (small as it may be) way of saying thank you to those in my family who have served (my grandfather, several great uncles, my hubby, all of his brothers, his dad and our neice and nephew; the two youngest in Iraq). I hope you enjoy them and make them for your next American celebration!

Here’s what you’ll need to decorate your cupcakes:

  • Red, white and blue icing (remember that gel food coloring work best)
  • #46 icing tip
  • Lollipop sticks
  • 2 resealable plastic bags
  • 2 icing tip connectors

And here are the simple steps:

  1. Once cooled, ice your cupcakes with white icing {cream cheese is my fav!}.
  2. Color some white icing red and some blue. You’ll likely use several drops to get even a small amount of icing bright enough.
  3. Snip the corners of your resealable bags and insert your connectors.
  4. Spoon your red icing into one bag and your blue into another.
  5. Apply your #46 icing tip to your blue bag and using the flat side pipe three stripes (1/3 the length of your flag) and then another stripe from the top {see picture}.
  6. Take your icing tip off the blue bag, clean it out and apply it to the red bag. Pipe the red stripes starting at the top of the flag using your blue stripes as a guide to keep them even. Make sure you skip just below the blue as that should be a white stripe.
  7. Finally, cut a lollipop stick in half and apply it to the side of the flag for your pole.

Have a wonderful holiday and as always, I hope you’re inspired to craft, bake and create!

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cool summer treats

cool-summer-treatsCool down this summer with these fun treats:

Ice cream cone cupcakes – I love the thought of serving ice cream in the summer, but keeping it from melting is such a challenge. Well not with these adorable cupcake ice cream cones from BrightIdeas.com; there is actually no ice cream involved, but don’t they look cool!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 box (18.25 oz.) yellow cake mix
  • 2 cups chopped SNICKERS® Bars
  • 2 cans (16 oz. each) vanilla frosting
  • 2 cups M&M’S® Brand Chocolate Candies
  • 24 ice cream sugar cones
  • Red food coloring
  • Sprinkles
  • 24 paper cupcake liners
  • 2 12-cup standard size muffin tins

And here are the easy steps:

  1. Prepare a yellow cake mix according to the package directions. Fold in SNICKERS® Bars before transferring the batter to cupcake paper-lined muffin tins. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Cool completely.
  2. Tint the frosting pink with a few drops of food coloring, set aside
  3. Fill each sugar cone with 1 tablespoon of M&M’S® Brand Chocolate Candies.
  4. Remove the paper liners from the cupcakes. Top the cones with the cupcakes, and cover with pink frosting. Decorate with M&M’S® Brand Chocolate Candies and sprinkles.

Life Preserver Cookies – I thought these were fun, especially if you’re planning a pool party. You can find them at sugarbowlcreations.com.

Snow cones – Okay, so this just made me think of summer when I was a kid {plus it’s from Southern Living Magazine… remember, I’m southern!}. You can read the complete article with recipes here.

Fruit popsicles – And last but not least, let’s keep it healthy when we can. Let’s face it, kids, especially when not given a choice, will love these popsicles made of real fruit just as much as they would a fudge pop. Read all the facts at rd.com.

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ocean birthday party ideas

ocean-party1I’m like a proud momma when it comes to our invitation designs and the décor we’ve chosen to coordinate with each. And just like a momma, I don’t have favorites… but I can have an “oh you’re just too cute today.” Right? {giggle}

So if you’re looking for some fishy fun, grab your snorkel and dive in to this bright and fun ocean birthday party theme. The invite is ours, of course. {wink} You can have a closer look at the invite, thank you, wave plates and more by visiting our “deep sea” birthday party theme in our shoppe.

The cupcakes are ours too. We simply tinted our icing an ocean blue and whipped it on with a spatula for a little wave effect. As for the embellishment, we cut out wave shapes from a blue cardstock to made a cupcake wrapper. As for the life preserver, we used a cirlce gum drop and piped on the stripes with the flat side of a #47 icing tip. Too cute huh!

And last but not least, the cake pan is from William-Sonoma. Love how they used Smarties as the suckers on the tentacles.

Happy planning.

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M&M baseball cupcakes

baseball_brightideasThis idea is from BrightIdeas.com and I simply love it! It is so easy; I only wish I knew where they got the cupcake liners. No fear though. If you can’t locate something similar I would go with a white baking liner (use a white cake mix and egg whites… and maybe substitute apple sauce for the oil to keep the liners crisp) and red and white grosgrain ribbon.

Here’s all you need:

  • 1 box (18.25 oz.) yellow cake mix
  • 2 cups chopped MILKY WAY® Bars
  • 2 12-oz. cans whipped vanilla frosting
  • 3 cups M&M’S® Brand Chocolate Candies
  • 2 12-cup muffin tins
  • Paper cupcake liners
  • And here are the simple steps:

    1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
    2. Prepare the cake mix according to the directions on the package. Fold the MILKY WAY® Bars into the batter.
    3. Line the muffin tins and fill. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool completely before spreading with whipped frosting.
    4. Following the photograph, decorate the cupcakes with single color M&M’S® Brand Chocolate Candies to create the baseball seams.

    Happy baking!

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    flip-flop ice cream cake

    flip-flop_cake_bhgI’m loving this too fun flip-flop cake creation from BHG.com. This is perfect for a sleepover birthday party theme or for a pool party {note to self, create a beautiful invite for you}.

    Here’s what you’ll need for one flip-flop (double for pair):

    • 1  10-3/4-ounce frozen pound cake, thawed
    • 3/4  to 1 cup desired-flavor ice cream
    • 1/2  of an 8-ounce carton frozen whipped dessert topping, thawed
    •   Pull-apart licorice twists
    •   Bright-color candy wafers and/or round candies
    •   Graham cracker crumbs (optional)

    And here are the super simple steps for one flip-flop:

    1. Halve pound cake horizontally. Using a serrated knife, cut off the rounded top of the cake so each layer will be level. Cut each half into a flip-flop shape. (TIP: Trace the bottom of a child-size flip-flop (needs to be 7 to 7 1/2 inches long) on a piece of paper. Cut out shape. Place paper, clean side down, on a piece of clean cardboard or sturdy paper; trace shape. Cut out shape. Place cardboard shape on top of one cake half and use a small sharp knife to cut around shape and through cake. Repeat with other cake half.
    2. Place ice cream in a small bowl and stir to soften. Spread softened ice cream over one of the cakes. Top with second cake. Place ice cream-filled cake on a baking sheet. Cover and freeze until firm (2 to 3 hours). Spread with whipped topping.
    3. To decorate, cut the ends of two twists at a diagonal. Insert a toothpick on the underside of each twist. Arrange the two twists with the cut ends together to form a V-shape, inserting toothpicks in cake to hold the twists in place as straps. Arrange candy wafers around base of flip-flop to decorate. Cover cake loosely and freeze until serving time. Serve on a platter sprinkled with graham cracker crumbs as sand, if desired.

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    sweet owl cupcakes

    owlcupcakes_hellonaomiHow adorable are these owl cupcakes from Hello Naomi! They are perfect for our owl couple baby shower theme or for our owl fun sleepover birthday party theme with a few color tweaks.

    Naomi doesn’t provide instructions, so I’m going to give you a few tips on how I think you can pull this one off without the use of fondant. Here’s what you’ll need:

    • 1 white cake mix (don’t use the yellow of your eggs and bake them in white baking cups)
    • 2 cans icing {cream cheese is my favorite!}
    • Gel food coloring {the others are too watery in my opinion}
    • 2 resealable bags
    • 2 icing connectors
    • #2, #3 and #6 icing tips
    • Toothpicks

    And here’s what you do:

    1. Bake your cupcakes so that you have a muffin top (filling the cups ¾ way full).
    2. While they cool, tint your icing. The image shows a light pink which works great for our owl fun sleepover birthday theme, but you might want a nice yellow for our owl couple baby shower theme… unless you want to show off the gender! {wink}
    3. Now, microwave your tinted icing in intervals of 7 seconds, stirring in between, until it is a little bit like soup. It will harden back up quickly so you’ll have to remicrowave it between every other cupcake or so.
    4. Take your cupcake and dip the muffin top in the icing, being careful not to get it on your baking cup. Slowly lift it out and spin the cupcake allowing the excess icing to drip off. Place it immediately on a cooling rack to allow the icing to dry. (Tip: If you have a little point in your icing where the last dripped off, quickly, and gently, shake your cupcake back and forth so that the icing will settle before it dries.)
    5. Now for the owl, tint a half can of icing the color you want your owl to be and set aside.
    6. Take a resealable bag, insert a connector and attach a #3 tip. Fill the bag with half of the tinted owl icing.
    7. Outline the shape of the owl on the cupcake.
    8. Change your tip to a #6 and pipe on your branch and dot leaves.
    9. Now to fill the owl, microwave the remaining icing, minus a heaping tablespoon for the eyes and noses, and carefully fill the owl outline. Smooth the icing to the edges with a toothpick. (Tip: Plastic icing bottles are great to control spilling, but you can do it with a spoon if you’re very careful.)
    10. Allow the owl to dry completely.
    11. For the outer eyes and nose, take another resealable bag with a connector and a #2 tip. Pipe your circles and triangles on each cupcake and then microwave the remaining icing to fill them in. Once dry, use the bag with the #6 tip and pipe the inner eyes.

    For presentation, I love a tiered cake plate, but if you’re fresh out, buy some coordinating gift wrap tissue paper and line your serving tray. And if you have a pair of scalloped scissors to trim the edges, all the better.

    Happy baking!

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    cowboy boot birthday cake

    cowboybookcake_parentsIf you’re planning a roundup of your favorite cowboy buckaroos, this cake from Parents.com is the perfect cake for you… plus it is a cool addition to our wild west cowboy birthday party theme.

    Here’s all you’ll need:

    • 1  box (18.25 ounces) yellow or devil’s food cake mix
    • 1  can (16 ounces) vanilla frosting
    • 1  can (16 ounces) caramel frosting
    • Red food coloring
    • Boot cake template (will have to sign up on Parents.com)
    • Boot piping template (will have to sign up on Parents.com) 

    And here are the simple steps:

    1. Grease and flour a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Using the pound-cake variation on the side of the box (add instant pudding and 1 extra egg), prepare the cake mix according to the package directions. Bake and let cake cool completely.
    2. To make the boot, print out the boot template. Place it on top of cake, angling so that the template fits. Using a food-coloring marker, draw the outline of the boot pieces on the cake, and cut out pieces with knife. {Love the tip about the food coloring marker!}
    3. Spoon 1/2 cup vanilla frosting into a freezer-weight resealable plastic bag, and snip off a small corner. Tint remaining vanilla frosting red. On a serving platter, attach cake pieces together with red frosting to make shape of boot. Cover entire boot with a thin crumb coat of red frosting. Once dry, apply a thicker coat and freeze the cake for one hour.
    4. Next, frost the heel, toe, sole, and top of the boot with caramel frosting. Place 1/4 cup caramel frosting in freezer-weight resealable plastic bag, and snip off small corner. Pipe a line down the center of the boot.
    5. Print out the piping template. Cut it out and place it on the boot, tracing the outline with a toothpick. Flip the template and repeat on other side of boot to create mirror image. Pipe white frosting over scored outline for stitching. Pipe white lines around edges of caramel top and toe of boot.

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