Monthly Archives: April 2013

Mayo Fiesta Birds

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May is almost here!!  We just had 2 days of blowing snow…and finally this afternoon the sun burst out and is turning the snow to puddles.

Today I started thinking about May, since it begins tomorrow.  In many countries of the world, tomorrow, May 1st is a holiday, but not here!!  On the weekend there is el 5 de Mayo, which is another holiday also not around here!  I’m late for holidays this year….but I did make some festive cookies today…kind of for May fiestas, but mostly for Lilaloa’s cookie challenge!!

The challenge is to think outside the box….or outside the cookie cutter shape!  There is a diamond ring cookie cutter that is popular for engagement cookies, and Georganne over at Lilaloa has challenged everyone to make something different than a diamond ring, using that cutter.  I confess that I have been thinking about it for a week (or more!) but just haven’t had the umph! to make anything, until today…inspired by the sunlight and the festiveness of May….I made some parrots.  (I also happen to have been thinking that a parrot would be the perfect pet for our household.  Years ago we had a green parrot and he had such a fun personality!!  Ok, ok, lots of feathers everywhere….but he was my little baby….anyways…)

Here’s the blank cookie shape….see that big diamond ring?denna's ideas: mayo fiesta fondant bird cookies

I saw parrots.  My kids saw swimming fish and little people in hoodies.  I was going to try and make everyone’s vision….but….well, maybe I should let them decorate their own cookies this afternoon…denna's ideas: mayo fiesta fondant bird cookies

denna's ideas: mayo fiesta fondant bird cookies denna's ideas: mayo fiesta fondant bird cookies denna's ideas: mayo fiesta fondant bird cookiesI’m liking the “1960’s filter” on these photos!  The lighting is so awful in my house….I have to try and edit to try and get near the cookies’ original colors… I know I complain a lot about the lighting…really I’m just not a great photographer and never use Manual 🙂

Get ready to have a great May!!

The Hello Kitty Party!! or “La Fiesta de la Hello”!

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Yes, we have finally come to the Hello Kitty party itself! 🙂denna's ideas: Hello Kitty Party Ideas

I had been thinking for a long time that a Hello Kitty party would be fun, but here are the two things that made me feel really inspired to go ahead and go for it!!

denna's ideas: Hello Kitty Party Ideas, chocolate

this Hello Kitty chocolate “Easter egg”

denna's ideas: Hello Kitty Party Ideas, mug

and this Hello Kitty mug!

denna's ideas: Hello Kitty Party Ideas, HK mug

My photos of the mug didn’t turn out so great, but really the mugs were my inspiration for the party.  The girls have had them for years, and I am always seeing them!  The mugs have Hello Kitty with ice cream cones and candy, and they are done in these pastel colors.  So I decided that the colors for the party would be mint green, pastel pink and red, oh! and chocolate instead of black!  And that it would be a Hello Kitty Sweet Shoppe kind of theme!  Following are some easy how-tos for some of the Hello Kitty stuff we did for the party.  Links to sources and how-to posts are in red letters, so just click on them!

(An Aside:  my friend over at Paper Glitter did a Fab-U-Lous Hello Kitty Sweet Shoppe party for her daughter! It’s amazing!  I decided to go with my mug-inspired homemade party this time, though.  If my printer had been working, I would have printed some of Paper Glitters’ gorgeous Sweet Shoppe Party printouts and this sweeeeet stationary set!  Linnette makes the most adorable things for parties!  But my printer is on it’s last legs 😦  )

So mint and pink and red….and a little white cat!  A package of pastel card stock from the dollar store made a quick and easy backdrop.   Just tape the pages onto the wall with painter’s tape so they won’t stick forever! (We were able to print out one black and white kitty and my youngest colored it in.  We found it on this site of coloring pages).

The lighting in our house in the winter is just atrocious, and so all my photos look kinda strange…they look very brightly colored, but really are softer pastels, oh well, I guess you get the idea….denna's ideas: Hello Kitty Party Ideas, easy Hello Kitty party backdrop

The little Kitty banner was so fast and easy to make. denna's ideas: Fast and Easy Hello Kitty Party Banner how toCheck out the How-To here for a quick and easy Hello Kitty banner.
denna's ideas: Fast and Easy Hello Kitty Party Banner from playing cards

A trip to Party City for a few little party favors, and a trip to the T&T Asian supermarket for some fun Hello Kitty packs of gum and box of cookies!
denna's ideas: Hello Kitty Party Ideas, Hello Kitty party favors

At the dollar store, I found this cute little book of painting pages….(I must say the kids weren’t the only ones who had fun painting them!)
denna's ideas: Hello Kitty Party favorsdenna's ideas: Hello Kitty Party Ideas, HK party gum favors

We set out a few of our Hello Kitty memorabilia to decorate…enna's ideas: Hello Kitty Party ideas, HK memorabiliaand something new….denna's ideas: Hello Kitty Party Ideas, HK lunchbox

And now for the party table set up!denna's ideas: Hello Kitty Party Ideas, bubble teaWe found some bubble tea in just the right colors…they looked super, but just are not my personal cup of tea!  I made a plate of Hello Kitty crackers…um, those weren’t so fabulous, but might work out with a different recipe.denna's ideas: Hello Kitty crackersSome easy party balloons in the shape of ice cream cones for the party table.  Just add some “cherries” and sprinkles!  There’s a quick how-to at the end of this post heredenna's ideas: Hello Kitty Banner and party ice cream balloonsEverything was finally put together….with the Hello Kitty Cake, too!

denna's ideas: Hello Kitty Party IdeasI made a Pocky Cake and added Hello Kitty peeking over the top!  Her whiskers are made out of Pocky, too.  I posted about what a Pocky cake is the other day, what a quick way to decorate a cake!!denna's ideas: Hello Kitty Party Ideas, Hello kitty dessert tableThe salad bowl was really a flash of genius, if I do say so myself!!  So fun and tasty, but super easy to make, too!

denna's ideas: Hello Kitty Party IdeasHere’s the post about the Hello Kitty Fruit Salad Bowl containing my favoritist sweet salad ever!  (I know that’s not a word! but it’s yummy)enna's ideas: Hello Kitty Party ideas, my girl

My birthday girl!!!  No girl is ever too old for a Hello Kitty party!!denna's ideas: Hello Kitty Party ideas, my girldenna's ideas: Hello Kitty Party IdeasSAM_0879It was a whole lot of sugary pastel colored sweetness, with a few Japanese and Korean treats thrown in!  The only things missing were these Hello Kitty strawberry treats!!  They were easy to make, but just didn’t make it to this party, haha!  The link for the how-to is here.denna's ideas: Hello Kitty Strawberry snacks

What is a Pocky Cake?

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Today I thought that someone somewhere might just be wondering what a Pocky cake is.  Was it you?  First of all, do you know what Pocky is?  Have you ever eaten this tasty little snack?  It is quite popular around our house.  🙂

Pocky is a Japanese snack food that is found all over the world, but especially popular in Japan.  This sweet snack is made of small sticks or “rods” that are almost the size of drinking straws (a bit smaller) and are made of biscuits covered in chocolate.  That would be biscuit in the European meaning, more like a crisp cookie dough.  I personally think that they are quite like pretzel rods covered in chocolate-like coating.  They are crisp and fun to crunch on.  I always like to check out what wikipedia has to say about all these types of things, haha!  So if you are that interested, click here: wikipedia to find out more about Pocky snacks, and even how to pronounce it!

Glico Chocolate Pocky 2.47 oz

Wherever you live, you can probably find and  buy Pocky at Asian supermarkets, or online, like from sites like this one: Asian Food Grocer, where they have all sorts and varieties of Pocky.  In Canada and the United States  they can also be found at other stores, such as HEB and Walmart.  That’s where I ended up buying them, Walmart. (Though they were also at the T&T Asian supermarket close by my house).  I found a very large bag of them at Walmart, more like “bulk” packaging, so I went for that instead of buying about 10 small boxes.  Here’s another photo from the Asian Food Grocer:

Pocky Sticks and Pretz

When I was looking up this Pocky stuff, I also found out that there is something called Pocky cake, which is a cake shaped to look like a Pocky stick. But that is not what I meant to post about today.  I actually mean a Pocky covered cake.  Have you seen one before?  I have seen photos of them going around on Pinterest.  Especially a pink Pocky covered cake that just looked so sweet.

For my daughter’s birthday, I decided that a Pocky covered cake would be so perfect, she loves Pocky!  It makes for a clean and simple looking cake…and a super easy cake too, I found out!  The photos I had seen online were of plain layer cakes, like with only a layer or two, so that when the cake was cut, you ended up with a regular piece of cake with these tall Pockies sticking up on the side.  It seemed a little strange to me, so I decided to make the cake as tall as the Pocky sticks.  I was testing things out a bit first, so had bought some strawberry Pocky and some chocolate.  I found out that they are not quite the same size, the strawberry is shorter.  Both snacks have a very strong smell.  Not being partial to strawberry smells, I went for the chocolate covered ones!  I acutally did some math for this one….I laid out all the Pocky sticks from one box and measured to see how much area they covered…then did primitive measuring and math to figure out how many boxes of Pocky I would need to go around my cake.  I was using a 6 inch cake pan…..anyways…..blah blah blah math blah…….it turned out that when I bought the bigger bag, all my figuring was in vain anyways….but it did just barely turn out, with not a Pocky to spare!  I think you would need about 10 boxes…maybe 12 to be on the safe side, though.  Or one bag from Walmart plus about 2 extra boxes.  Something like that!!  (I’m only going on and on about it in case you are reading this post because you want to make your own Pocky cake!)denna's ideas: how to make a Pocky Cake

It’s really easy, after you have all the Pocky bought!!  Bake a cake.  My cake was several layers high, and ended up measuring just over 5 inches high.  Stack the layers and frost with icing, such as buttercream.  Buttercream worked out very nicely because it wasn’t too gooey….it was just the right consistency to hold the sticks of Pocky, without bulging out between them.  Then start slapping on the Pocky!!  It was that easy.  They didn’t need to be supported nor held.  I decided to go with the cookie part at the bottom.  They are quite uniform, so I didn’t do any chopping or anything, just put them on…all around the cake.  It wasn’t necessary, but I decided to tie a ribbon around the whole thing at the end.

And there you go!!  (at this point many people type in Wa-la!!  But I will never do it!  I might think Voila! to myself, but prefer to type a less fancy “and there you go”)  Your cake is finished.  And it looks so cool!  And I have to mention that it smells wonderful!  The Pocky have a very strong chocolaty smell, so it was nice to have a cake that had it’s own powerful “perfume”!!  🙂

I think that was the fastest cake I’ve ever decorated!  But I never seem to just let things “be” I must always go for that extra little fussiness…that one extra little touch….so I added a Hello Kitty head to the top of the cake!!  More about that later…..denna's ideas: Hello Kitty Party Ideas and Pocky CakeP.S. One last little bit of Pocky trivia from wikipedia: The “Pocky Kiss” is the eastern equivalent to the western “Spaghetti Kiss”  bet ya didn’t know! 😉

Hello Kitty Crackers….fail?

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Hello Kitty Crackers….fail?

Back to Hello Kitty party stuff.  Here’s something I made for our party…but it looked like a fail to me (or failage, as my sons says, though not about the crackers necessarily).  Hello Kitty crackers seemed like a cool idea.  Something salty in the midst of so much sweetness.  I found several cracker recipes on Pinterest and decided to try this recipe for “homemade Ritz crackers” out, because it said if I halved the recipe I could fit it in a mini food processor.  Maybe that’s where the failage started…my mini processor was too full, so in the end had to lug out the bigger one.  And then I only had whole wheat flour, which of course gives things a different taste and texture (though I think we are used to that by now), and I thought it would be nice to add a bit of pink food coloring….anyways, the “crackers” seemed ok at first, but then I realized that they were kinda…weird.  I rolled them and cut them out…denna's ideas: Hello Kitty crackers

Then I used the cutest little Hello Kitty play dough stamp to stamp faces into the crackers.  I even tried stamping it with food coloring, which looked like it had possibilities, but didn’t actually work…denna's ideas: Hello Kitty crackersdenna's ideas: Hello Kitty crackersdenna's ideas: Hello Kitty crackers

The recipe said that holes should be poked in the crackers so they’d bake alright, so I did, poking Kitty’s nose and eyes with a meat thermometer (clean).

denna's ideas: Hello Kitty crackersWhen they baked up…they still looked a little weird.  And when I tasted them…I wasn’t impressed.  They really just tasted like very flat biscuits.denna's ideas: Hello Kitty crackersSome of them were kinda cute…though the pink color was strange.  I was surprised that the kids liked them!  The recipe might have been fine if I had not added whole wheat instead of white flour…. I definitely need to try this again, but will try a different recipe.  I think I’ll try a recipe that has cheese in it!

Hello Kitty Fruit Salad Bowl

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You just can’t get enough of that cute Kitty, I know!  So I thought I’d post just one more party food idea for your next Hello Kitty party.  This one turned out great and is super yummy, I promise!

One of our favorite “salads” is more like a dessert, I’m afraid.  It’s a marshmallow-fruit-whipped cream salad of yumminess…ahhhh.  Very easy, and it adapted itself perfectly to this Hello Kitty idea.  This food project needs to be made a day before your party.

Start out with a clean fishbowl.  You could call it a salad bowl, but it’s really a fishbowl…but ours has never even seen a fin.  (I bought it at Michael’s arts and crafts store).  I used one package of mini marshmallows for this recipe.  It’s not really a recipe, just kind of a throwing-together of ingredients.  I don’t think there’s really anything that you could do to mess this one up!

First whip up some whipping cream…the real stuff!!  (with a bit of sugar and vanilla, nice and thickly whipped)  Like maybe about  two cups.  (Or more!)  In a very large separate bowl, mix about half a bag of mini marshmallows and about half of the whipped cream.  It should be a thick mixture, not runny at all.  Now with a big spoon, start spooning this into the fishbowl, and coating the sides of the bowl, like this…denna's ideas: how to make a Hello Kitty fruit salad bowlThis is so that Hello Kitty will have a nice smooth-looking face, instead of  grape “beauty marks or warts” on her face!  Coating the sides of the bowl with the marshmallow/whipped cream mixture is quite easy.  Try to make it as thin as possible, so you have some more mallow for the salad!

Now to finish the salad: mix up the rest of the marshmallows with the whipped cream.  There’s a healthy short cut you can do here.  I added in plain greek yoghurt and/or plain vanilla yogurt instead of some of the whipped cream.  It works great….really, I think this salad could be made with only yogurt and no cream and it would be just great!  But I don’t think cutting out the marshmallows is an option!

Now cut up and de-seed some grapes.  A big bunch of grapes.  We like using the red grapes.  Make sure each grape is cut at least in half!  Add these to the mix in the big bowl.  Add some mandarin orange segments (maybe a can-ful or two).  (I didn’t have any, but you can add a can of pineapple chunks, too).  You kind of add what you have on hand, fruit wise.  Now it’s a fruity marshmallowy salad.  To give it a nice nutty crunch, add some toasted almonds now (might be a good idea to have these toasted before you start making the salad).

Almonds:  to peel whole almonds, put them in a bowl and pour boiling water over them.  Let sit for a few minutes, then start popping the skins off them…that’s the fun part that kids usually like helping with!  After they are all peeled, toast them in an oven or in a skillet on top of the stove….just a warm toasty brown, don’t let them burn!!  When they are cool, add them to the salad.

That’s about it for the fruit salad!  Mix it all gently together and spoon it into the fishbowl.  It made just enough to almost fill it. denna's ideas: how to make a Hello Kitty fruit salad bowlNow cover and refrigerate it.  The next day, right before the party, you can add the face and bow.  The bow was made from a paper napkin/serviette.  Cut a strip off one side, gather the large rectangle up, then use the strip to fasten around the middle and tape together.  Use a small piece of tape to stick it to one side of the bowl.

For the face:  melt a couple of cocoa candy melts (I use Wilton’s), or a few spoonfuls of chocolate chips.  Put into a plastic baggie and snip a tiny piece of the corner off so you can pipe the chocolate out there.  The fruit bowl is nice and cold so the chocolate will set up quickly.  Pipe the whiskers on first, then the eyes and nose….denna's ideas: how to make a Hello Kitty fruit salad bowlI think the eyes should have been down a bit….oh well, it took just a minute to do right before the party started.  If you mess up, you can just scrape it off and start again.  I found that the chocolate stayed on perfectly for a long time….the only problem was that the kids wanted to pick it off and eat it!!

denna's ideas: how to make a Hello Kitty fruit salad bowlRight before eating time at the party, you can gently mix the salad up, or even just mix it up as you serve it…so that there is fruit throughout the whole salad.  Mmmm, love this salad!!  And the Kitty, too!  I was especially pleased that this was my very own little idea…I didn’t “find it on Pinterest” like most of my ideas, haha!!

What to do with Chocolate Covered Almonds?

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What to do with Chocolate Covered Almonds?

I’m sure that you have asked yourself this question at some point…how many cool things can I make with chocolate-covered almonds?  Or more specifically, how can I make cupcake decorations and toppers for cupcakes with delicious chocolate coated almonds?  I know that I recently pondered that profound question.  And yes, please feel free to ask…why did I ask myself that question?  Maybe you have already guessed the answer, particularly if you have a child in school who at some point has suddenly brought a rather large cardboard box (with a nice handle) full of smaller boxes of chocolate-covered almonds and has announced that they must all be sold as an important school fundraiser.

Yes, we have chocolate covered almonds for sale!  I’m afraid that last time we went through this, we bought the whole box and ate them all.  For sure I don’t want to do that again, so I started looking around for ideas to use these candies….as decorations on cupcakes.  Surely there are many other ways to use them, but I’m only interested in bakedy bake baking stuff right now….so I checked around.  And I made a list.  Yes, I am weird that way.  And one day baked the cupcakes, and finally finally got around to testing out all the fun ideas.  All 13 of them!

I wanted you to have some cute ideas, so that you’ll buy chocolate almonds from us and we’ll get rid of the whole boxful.  Or better yet, order some cupcakes from me, and I’ll make sure that they have some chocolate almond toppers!!

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fly away little ladybug!

denna's ideas: chocolate covered almonds as cupcake toppers, creepy spider cupcake topper

here comes a spider!

denna's ideas: chocolate covered almonds as cupcake toppers, bee on a flower cupcake

busy little bee wants a taste of that delicious flower!

denna's ideas: chocolate covered almonds as cupcake toppers, picnic ant cupcake

the ants come marching one by one, hurrah!

denna's ideas: chocolate covered almonds as cupcake toppers, picnic critter cupcakes

our little picnic friends, waiting to come and play

denna's ideas: chocolate covered almonds as cupcake toppers, bee on a bee hive cupcake

this little bee is too busy to play…

denna's ideas: chocolate covered almonds as cupcake toppers, bee on a bee hive cupcake

“i must make some honey today!”

denna's ideas: chocolate covered almonds as cupcake toppers, sunflower topper

“let’s find a bright sunflower right away!”

denna's ideas: chocolate covered almonds as cupcake toppers, bird in a nest topper

tweet tweet, spring will soon be here!

denna's ideas: chocolate covered almonds as cupcake toppers, little marshmallow sheep cupcake

baaaa! spring is already here little lamb says

denna's ideas: chocolate covered almonds as cupcake toppers, football

but some have only football on their minds…

denna's ideas: chocolate covered almonds as cupcake toppers, moose head in sprinkles

“summer will be here soon, and time for camp!” says Mac the Moose

denna's ideas: chocolate covered almonds as cupcake toppers, choco cat cupcake topper

meow! says choco cat

denna's ideas: chocolate covered almonds as cupcake toppers, polar bear cupcake

sleepy polar bear can’t wake up

denna's ideas: chocolate covered almonds as cupcake toppers, north pole penguin!

“i’m waiting for winter to come again!” says litte pingu

denna's ideas: chocolate covered almonds as cupcake toppers, chocolate mouse cupcake

“eek! to that!” shrieks choco mouse!

And there you have some ideas for having fun with chocolate covered almonds.  I had fun yesterday, can you tell??

denna's ideas: chocolate covered almonds as cupcake toppersSome of my favorites…denna's ideas: chocolate covered almonds as cupcake toppers, choco cat cupcake topperdenna's ideas: chocolate covered almonds as cupcake toppers, polar friends cupcakesdenna's ideas: chocolate covered almonds as cupcake toppers, chocolate mouse cupcake topperIf you would like the how-to for any topper, just let me know.  They were all made with chocolate covered almonds, some had chocolate chips on them and some had nonpareils (for eye pupils).  They were all put together with candy melts, or melted chocolate.  Pretty easy!!  About half of them, like the mouse and the choco cat,  were my own brainwaves…oh, and the ugly moose…he needs some work!  Below I listed the  ideas I saw as photos pinned on Pinterest.  You can find the pin or blog link that I found each idea at by clicking on the highlighted words (none of them have instructions FYI):

ant cupcake toppers

footballs

bees, there are some really cute ideas on this blog

polar bear

sheep

penguins, there are a lot of pins for these penguins, but I found the blog source! there are a lot of other great ideas here too.