Fruit Desserts for Summer and a Giveaway!

*This post is sponsored by Rich Products as part of their Give Bakery Because program.  A grocer’s bakery is the convenient and ideal location to purchase delicious baked goods that can be customized for any gift giving occasion.  Rich’s and I encourage you to head to your local in-store bakery the next time you need delicious, sweet treats – or just because.  But all these opinions are mine.

Summer entertaining made easy with fresh fruit and store-bought cookies for dessert. #givebakery #ad // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comHow is 4th of July in a little over a week?!  Life is moving too quickly for my taste.  I think we all just need to slow it down and make sure we are taking time to enjoy life and spending it with the ones we love.  I’m really looking forward to our annual block party on Independence Day.  It starts with a city-wide parade where the kids participate by riding their decorated bikes and throwing (and subsequently picking up) lots of candy.  Then we chill for a few hours and then head down the street to hang with the neighbors and a HUGE bounce house/ water slide/ ER-visit-inducing contraption.  Everyone is supposed to bring items to share.  I hate just bringing chips.  I always feel so lazy setting those down when the cute gals from around the neighborhood show up with crazy delicious homemade brownies and cookies, etc.  And while I want to step up my potluck game, I still don’t want to spend a lot of time on it.  The perfect solution is starting with a store-bought base and then adding my own touches.  This year I’ll be bringing a berry, basil dessert bruschetta (served on the perfect store-bought sugar cookies).  Boom.  Fruit desserts are perfect for summer.

Fresh fruit and store bought cookies makes a super easy treat for your summer parties. #givebakery #ad // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comYou only need a few ingredients for this dessert and they are so yummy!  I also love that you don’t really need any serving utensils for this and they are super easy to grab.  Start by cleaning your fresh berries (for this I used strawberries and blueberries but of course you can add others – raspberry seeds freak me out and their color is not patriotic enough for me but if you want to use them, I guess YOU can) and rinse your basil (Mint would be another good option but use your favorite fresh herb.  I find that the fresh herb helps to cut the sweetness of the berries and cookies a smidge).

Fresh fruit and herbs make this sugar cookie and fruit bruschetta perfect for 4th of July and summer entertaining. #givebakery #ad // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comI chopped my strawberries and put them in a bowl.  I decided to keep the blueberries whole for their color and have you seen the insides of a blueberry?  Off putting.  It makes me think of zombies.  Which is not super appetizing in terms of dessert presentation.

Fruit bruschetta with basil will delight your party guests. And it's so easy to make with store bought cookies! #givebakery #ad // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comOnce your fruit is prepared, and you have added your chopped herbs (mine are chiffonaded because I’m fancy like that.  I also make up tenses of words) toss it altogether and grab your store-bought cookies.  In this case, I added some store-bought whipped cream to the cookie first and then piled on the berries.  If these are going to sit out at all, though, you might want to let guests add the whipped cream themselves as it can melt.  These could easily be set out as a “station” so people could make them themselves.  For a do-it-yourself bar, I would put the bowl of berries on top of a bowl of ice and keep the whipped cream in a wine chiller.  Then set the cookies and a spoon and your job is done. [Read more…]

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Chic Cookie Exchange Party Inspiration

cookie exchange party for girls nightI haven’t been to a cookie exchange party in a really long time.  I think they are such a nice way to hang out with some girl friends, get to try out some new recipes AND have cookies to share with your family after the party.  I’ve only hosted one cookie exchange before.  It was before I had children and not only did my best gals come bearing delicious cookies, but we also played several rounds of poker.  Super fun.  If I get a chance to host another cookie exchange this one would be much more chic.  It would involve dressing up, sipping some bubbles and listening to good tunes with my girls.  And cookies.  Of course cookies.

champagne tray . chocolate chip cookies . chocolate truffles . dancing girls . pistachio cookies . champagne goggles . cookie decorating . cookies in Weck jar

Let’s Celebrate! Birthday Dessert and Cocktail Ideas

All the MarthaCelebrations at JC Penney products featured in this post were provided by the Editors at Martha Stewart Living, a team that loves a good party and deeply admires the bloggers who throw them.

Adult Birthday Party using the new Martha Celebrations line #neon #silver #LetsCelebrate

HBD.  It is a much cooler way to say Happy Birthday, don’t you think?

With two little boys, I get to throw several fun kid parties a year.  But there is way less opportunity to throw a killer adult birthday.  I designed this fun dessert and cocktail party with several of my friend’s in mind.  But why would you need to throw a party, you ask?

martha celebrations avilable at jc penneyOne day an email arrived to my inbox and I thought I had died and gone to heaven.  The editors of Martha Stewart Living had put together a fun opportunity and they wanted me to be a part of it.  Wait, what?!  Me! And it gets better!  Each blogger they chose would receive a box of some MarthaCelebrations goodies, you know, the new line of party products at JC Penney to design a party with.  This is totally right up my alley.  I said yes (duh) and then waited rather impatiently for the box to arrive to see what I would get to work with!  I was SUPER excited when my box showed up.  It was full of silver and white party supply items in a wood grain and star pattern.  There was a bit of sparkle, it was a bit cool and I knew I could put my spin on it.

gin and tonic bar for adult birthday partyI focused the party decor on the dessert table and cocktail “cart” area and cleared out the rest of my dining room to create an open dance floor area.

Happy Birthday Sign with plastic tablecloth ruffle garlandI have been wanting to do an HBD party for some time so this was the perfect opportunity.  In this age of hashtags and text language, it just seemed right.  Since I can’t quit neon, I knew that neon orange had to be a part of the design.  And an old tapestry (not quite vintage, thank you very much) from my high school days inspired the use of the batik fabric. (Using fabric can be tough but I found this great product at the craft store called Phoomph, that helps to keep it stiff and able to better hold shapes.)  I also knew that I wanted to use my plastic table-cloth ruffles (and some fringed ones too) to add texture to the walls.  I think they added a subtle, feminine touch.  I wanted the sweets to be spiced without being spicy so I kept a loose international influence throughout with hints of cardamom and nutmeg as well as citrus and nuts.

cardboard cupcake stand from Martha CelebrationsOne of my favorite products is this cardboard cupcake stand.  The tiers are actually reversible so you can choose which pattern you want showing!  What a cool idea.  I used a neon orange paint pen to edge the stand for a fun pop of color.  And as I was going through the box I was thrilled to see the pricing on each item.  The cupcake stand is only $12!  Totally affordable.  I wanted to keep the party focused on sweets (have you heard about my sweet tooth???) so I filled the stand with delicious vanilla cupcakes by Meringue Bake Shop and pistachio rose popcorn balls that I made, wrapped in the silver wood grain cupcake wrappers from part of a MarthaCelebrations kit.

custom invite from Carta SocietyTo get the party started right, I asked my friends at Carta Society to create a custom invitation for me using the printable invitation/menu card set.  I love how they were able to capture the fun yet classy feeling I was going for and incorporate the patterned fabric.

faux bois paper napkins by Martha CelebrationsThe prints that are available for all the paper products (not just the set I got) in the MarthaCelebrations line are the best I have ever seen.  I don’t know why it has taken so long to get good prints on disposable products but I am so happy it has finally happened.  I think they really elevate the look of a casual get together.  I added in some of my Philippe Starck designed plastic cutlery with my favorite disposable heart fork/knife/scoops.

silver paper chandelier detailMy dining room has very high ceilings and are not conducive to hanging chandeliersKristin suggested I hang it on the wall somehow which led me to what I think is very dream catcher-esque wall hanging.  I added a small macrame touch to the center, which like neon, I can’t stop.  I really like to knot things.  Is there a 12 step program for those things?  Can someone please stage a friendtervention?

silver favor boxes by martha celebrationsThese gray favor boxes were super easy to put together and the perfect thing for the spiced donut truffles Kristin, of Meringue Bake Shop, created.  I added a little bit of sparkle with this amazing silver ribbon.

silver wrapped chocolate hearts from Martha celebrationsSince Martha knows how OCD we party ladies can be about our matching colors, she even has color coordinated candies available to go along with her collections, like these silver wrapped chocolate hearts.  She thought of everything.  Duh.  She’s Martha.

succulent favors with faux bois wrapsI added a touch more silver to the wall decor with the silver metallic circle dot garland.  The hint of orange mixed in with the white tablecloth ruffles was flagging tape I found at Home Depot.  The flowers were a simple way to add more color to the table and I added a second “favor” item in the potted succulents.  I wrapped the pots in the wood grain cupcake sleeves.

spiced bundt cake for dessert and cocktail partyI fell in love with the sparkly, spiky, silver gift toppers and knew it was the perfect thing to add to my spiced bundt cake.

candied kumquat panna cotta by Meringue Bake shopI felt like we needed a custardy type item to round out all the baked goods so Kristin suggested a panna cotta.  I candied some kumquats to add to the top and they were the perfect addition to the table.  The vanilla bean panna cotta she created was velvety with a touch of sweetness and paired perfectly with the tart but sweet citrus.  AMAZING.  I wish you all could have tasted them!

silver neon orange and blue batik adult cocktail partyI really love how the table came together.  I love the color combo and felt like I was able to personalize the MarthaCelebrations items to fit my style.

bar for adult birthday partyFor the other focal point of the party, I created a Gin and Tonic bar and provided fresh fruit to muddle and custom syrups to try out.

macrame bar recipes and plastic tablecloth ruffles and fringeI tied in the decor to the main party table by once again using the plastic tablecloth ruffles and silver garland.  I used some leftover invitation/menu cards to print out the specialty gin and tonic recipes and used macrame knots to create a way to display them on the wall.

gin and tonic bar for cocktail partyI used the tags that came with the favor boxes to make labels for the bar syrups.  I love using fresh herbs and produce in a bar set up.  Not only does it bring the fresh flavor but is another way to add vibrant color.

grey and white star cocktail napkins from Martha CelebrationsThe star patterned cocktail napkins paired really well with the glass and silver elements on the bar table.

silver cocktail picks for gin and tonic barI used the silver picks from the cupcake kit for the cocktail garnish which I made using flavors from the specialty recipes I printed.

blackberry and meyer lemon gin and tonicThe gin and tonic recipes were: the perfect gin and tonic, sweet cherry lime gin and tonic, blackberry meyer lemon gin and tonic, strawberry basil gin and tonic and elderflower gin and tonic.  Delicious!!!!!

martha celebration gift bag and wrapping paperNot only does MarthaCelebrations do party decor but they also do gift bags and wrap.  It is hard to tell from this shot but the white paper is embossed and absolutely stunning!

I am beyond thrilled that the Martha Stewart Living editors asked me to be part of this fun project!

And you have a chance to win your very own MarthaCelebrations party-in-a-box!!  From now (June 7th) until June 14th, just head to the #LetsCelebrate Pin Party Board and repin your favorite party images.  Use the hashtag #LetsCelebrate on each pin to be entered to win.  The blogger with the most repins will win a feature on MarthaStewart.com!!! and win a JC Penney gift card.  So for the love of Pete, repin my party! :)  I’ll be your best friend.

Huge thank you to Dez and Tam for the GORGEOUS photos (and syrup label lettering).  Thank you times one million to Kristin of Meringue Bake Shop for providing beautiful and delicious treats.  And special thanks to Carta Society for working with me on the invitation.  I could not have done it with out you guys!

I can’t wait to check out all the other parties!

SprinkleBakes inspiring food artists everywhere

How in the world had I not known about SprinkleBakes Blog before I got this cookbook?  I mean seriously.  This Heather gal is ridonkulously talented.  Not really sure what that word means, but according to my husband it means, like, way better that ridiculous.  Not only is Heather’s blog freaking gorgeous, she makes some pretty outstanding sweet treats.  And she just came out with a book.

When I first flipped through the book I thought I would ever be able to make anything from it.  My lack of baking and decorating skill almost blinded me to just how amazing this book is.  Just as I was ready to hand over the book to my more-talented sister-in-law, I decided to take one more peek.  Aside from the pure eye candy in the book and completely unusual recipes, Heather also has tons of helpful tips throughout.  For people like me.  I can handle something like making icing.  Decorating with it is still another story.

I can promise you that I don’t own any other cookbooks, especially of the baking variety, that include chapters on sculpture.  One of the reasons that I am so drawn to Heather, and am now an avid follower of her blog,  is that she is a true artist.  I’m guessing she could knock out some pretty insane art on a canvas.  But how awesome is it that her works of art are made of sugar!?!  And she shares her techniques with us.  I’m just going to pretend that these sections that are a little out of my league are a magazine where I can gaze at the pretty, pretty pictures and not be expected to take any action.

I mean!  How fun does that recipe sound?  I may attempt something like this if I had a baking spotter with me in the kitchen.  This is one of the most gorgeous cookbooks that I own and it is super informative while being completely inspiring.  This would make a great gift for your girlfriend who is awesome in the kitchen and has a playful side to her.  I’m sure upon reading this book they would want to step their game up even more.  And I’m not telling you when, because I don’t want you to hold me to it, but I’m going to try my hand at making some meringue.  I just know I could nail it from the way Heather wrote the recipe.  So am I the only one who didn’t know about her blog?  The styling of her posts is is my favorite!

Buy SprinkleBakes

SprinkleBakes Blog

*I was sent a copy of this cookbook for review with no other compensation.  All opinions are mine.  This book is so pretty!