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Category Archives: party

Liverpool Leading Lady

I’m not as English as I once thought.

My father and I were talking about having corned beef and cabbage for Saint Patrick’s Day and I said that it would be worth the effort, “Even though there’s not an ounce of Irish blood in us,” to which my father replied, “I’m half Irish.”

Oh. Really?

Well, then we certainly should have some corned beef and cabbage and throw in a loaf Irish soda bread while we’re at it.

Now, I was perfectly justified in thinking that I was English. My great-grandparent and company were all born in Liverpool. Well, there’s a story behind that.

It just so happens that I am not the first actress in my family. My grandmother Kathleen was certainly one of the most dramatic people I knew, but her grandmother certainly takes the gold.

For many, many years being Irish was not nearly as grand as being English and my great-great grandmother thought she could do something about that. When the time came to give birth to each baby in her brood, she would go to Liverpool, have her child, and then go back to her homestead in Ireland. Doing this made her English (In her mind, of course). She did the baby act a few times and it was not easy, but the performance must have been worth it.

So, in honor of her and her wild antics, I adapted Nick Malgieri’s recipe for Irish Soda Bread Muffins. Don that green apron of yours and bake some up this weekend.

Irish Soda Bread Muffins

Makes 12 standard muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour     1 ½ teaspoons baking powder    ½ teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted    ¼ cup sugar    1 large egg    1 ¼ cups buttermilk

¾ cup raisins, currants, or cranberries tossed with 1 tablespoon flour

confectioner’s sugar    vanilla extract    half-n-half

  1. Set a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat to 350 F.
  2. Line your muffin tin with paper liners.
  3. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the butter and sugar. Whisk in the egg and ½ of the buttermilk. Gently stir in ½ of the flour mixture and then add the remaining buttermilk.
  5. Stir in the dried fruit and then the rest of the flour mixture.
  6. Spoon the batter in to the muffin cups and bake for about 30 minutes or until the muffins have a touch of gold and are firm to the touch.
  7. Allow the muffins to cool on a wire rack.
  8. Mix together a cup of confectioner’s sugar, two tablespoons of half-n-half, and one tablespoon of vanilla. Add liquid or sugar until you get a nice consistency. Drip the icing over cooled muffins and allow the icing to harden. The muffins should look glazed.
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Here a Gab…

Here a Gabba, there a Gabba…

Everywhere a Gabba, Gabba….

Who would’ve thought I’d be so involved with robots and monsters?

Little eyes and little lips…

Sophie is turning 3 soon. She wants a pink cake with purple flowers on it. That’s it. No eyeballs, no shaggy green hair. No 3-dimensional princess. She doesn’t even want Kipper on it.

A pink cake with purple flowers? What will I do with myself? (Besides make French baguettes…)

I think I’ll manage.

A Birthday and A Baby: A Sweet Story

Like anyone, Erica is complex. She can be soft and teary-eyed or wild and unashamed. (I can hear her shouting “Woo-woooo!” as I write.) She’s a beautiful person with a sweet tooth and a taste for the good stuff–chocolate.

And she just turned twenty-five.

Her husband needed a cake for her. A small, simple one for a casual dessert party.

We went with three layers of our wonderfully moist and deliciously decadent chocolate cake, our tasty vanilla buttercream frosting, and rich chocolate coating.

We chose antique rose for the base color and chocolate browns for the decoration.

Erica's cake

The cake was simple, yet elegant–very much like Erica.

Happy Birthday, Erica.

Speaking of birthdays, there’s a little baby coming soon. Baby Job is due to arrive on October 1st to parents-to-be Allie and Adam. Maddy Lu made the dessert table for Allie’s baby shower.

The menu was as follows:

miniature red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, miniature moist mocha cupcakes with cappuccino frosting, miniature vanilla cupcakes with blueberry buttercream frosting, chocolate peanut butter cake pops, blueberry pinwheel cookies made with our very own blueberry preserves, soft gingerbread drop cookies, and sugar cookie cut-outs.

Congratulations, Allie and Adam. We look forward to meeting you, Baby Job.

Birthdays and babies–lovely, lively parts of life.

Now, onto peach preserves…

It’s strange, but I’ve begun to feel naked without my apron on.

Ariel Cake

Little Sophie just woke up from a nap.

“What do you think it is, Sophie?” Jessica asked sweetly, pointing to the three-layer cake we were working on.

“Ariel’s,” Sophie answered.

Jessica looked up at me.

“We’ve got to change it.”

Sophie just woke up, she’s two, and everything has to do with a princess. Some days I’m Drizella and other days I’m Snow White. Asher is either Anastasia or Ariel, depending on how well he cooperates with Sophie’s scheming. We’re all princesses in Sophie’s book (or a prince. I’ve been a prince before.) and this cake is no different.

“The cake is great. I like the cake.”

“We’ve GOT to change it.”

“Fine.”

“If you don’t want me to…”

“No, it’s okay. Change it.”

“I don’t have to.”

“No, you’re right.”

“We can’t have Ariel’s cake.”

“You’re right.”

“Don’t be mad at me.”

“Just do it.”

“I don’t need to do it.”

“Just do it.”

“Okay.”

“Let’s take a picture first.”

There was nothing wrong with the cake. It had a lovely whimsical feel to it and the requested colors were there (orange, blue, and green), but they weren’t “wild” or “edgy.” The cake was too pretty and supposedly had an under-the-sea look.

So, we did it again. We stripped it right down to the moist three layers of downy vanilla cake. Jessica added a bright orange swirl to the outer layer of buttercream and we jazzed up the fondant decorations by adding some royal blue birds and other embellishments.

Kelsey, the birthday-girl and recent high-school graduate, loved her cake.

And when someone wants an Ariel cake, we’ll know just what to do.

Speaking of knowing what to do, do you know what you should do?

Order some rich chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter buttercream centers and buttercream frosting.

or perfect vanilla cupcakes with raspberry buttercream frosting.

Oh, I would.

Yo Gabba Gabba!

I’m still confused. What is it all about exactly? I asked a kid at the party if he liked the red monster and he was obviously appalled at my ignorance. But the red guy’s a cyclops, right?

Well, I hope you liked your cake, Kaleb. Happy Birthday to you.

Now reader, if someone told you that you reminded him of Foofa would you take it as a compliment?

Not that that happened to me…

A Toyota to Tom’s River

We packed up the Toyota and clink-clanked our way to Tom’s River. We could have hired a horse and carriage. A horse and wagon would have been more like it, actually. The clinking was the vase in the back and the clanking was from my practically strutless car. Why did we take it?

It seemed like a good idea at the time–just like the instant mashed potatoes and chocolate covered strawberries at midnight. Oh and Life cereal to get some whole grain in there. I heard later that Jessica was having a turkey hotdog on sliced bread with salad at that hour. I think she did far better than me even though she argues that there was an excessive amount of garlicky dressing on her salad. Boo-hoo. Slightly sweet cereal with powdery potatoes or hotdog and salad?

I did have strange dreams that night involving mashed potatoes and the letter V.

V is for Victoria. Victoria is getting married and Maddy Lu had the honor of putting together a dessert table for her bridal shower. The dessert menu was as follows:

fudgy mocha cake pops, miniature raspberry-lemonade cupcakes, miniature boston cream cupcakes, blueberry bread skewers, lemony sugar cookies, and chocolate covered strawberries.

And yes, we piped V on the strawberries and on the cookies.

Now, do you understand why I was eating chocolate covered strawberries at that hour and having nightmares about the letter V?

We had a great time setting up the sweet table. And I hear they had a great time eating our foods.

Love it.

Happy wedding, Victoria.