Best Caramel Corn Ever

Pinkleton's Caramel Corn with Orange Cardamom and Scotch.  OMG Yum! // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comYou know you have good friends when they gift you the world’s best caramel corn ever.  Well I mean, I think my recipe is the best caramel corn recipe ever, but prepackaged this is the stuff.  Kristin picked this Pinkleton’s caramel corn up on her recent vacation to Portland and knowing my love of snacks, caramel corn and cardamom, she knew I needed to try it too.  The flavor is outrageous.  It is at once bitter and sweet with subtle and bold flavors.  It’s the perfect crunchy texture.  And I didn’t want to share it.  I also knew that if I wasn’t careful, I would end up eating the whole bag in one sitting.  I ate some on the beach during a family picnic.  I packed this in my suitcase for my New York trip (I never like to be snacky in a hotel with only a mini bar available) and brought the rest home with me.  This would make a great gift for the foodies and snack lovers in your life.  I’m dying to try the other flavors too!  I mean – salted vanilla, salted molasses and spicy mexican cocoa?!  Order some for you summer vacations.  You’re welcome.  And thank you, Kristin, for knowing me so well!

 

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!

Bright and Yummy

I love to look at rock candy.  But hate to eat it.  This is the perfect solution.  It’s a candy chandy.  And I love it.

image via

 

Spiced Clementine Margarita with Izze Soda

Before you get to see the recipe for the margarita, you must go vote for my craft first!  It is the one called “The Dangling Glacier” because, well, it sort of looks like that and I’m really terrible at coming up with names for things.  I appreciate your support!

In the middle of our crafting session for the above mentioned craft challenge, I decided to use Lauren as a tester for a cocktail recipe that had been floating around in my head.  In talking to my pal, Julie G., she suggested a margarita since we are straight up west coast after all and our holidays are much warmer than other parts of our country.  I decided that to make it more winter-y, it needed to be spiced and with that as the base, I began shimmy shaking up cocktails.  In the middle of the afternoon.  So.

The ingredients are simple.  Izze Sparkling Clementine (one of the easiest to find flavors – your welcome), a fine tequila, such as Camarena, and warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and clove.

I made this a few times and think you will need to tweak the spices to find your sweet spot.  For Lauren and I, we liked the clove to stand out.  But if you are not a fan of cloves I suggest starting with a pinch and adding on from there.  Here is the recipe:

Spiced Clementine Margarita with Izze Sparkling Clementine Soda {serves 2 ish}

2 oz. Tequila

1 oz. lime juice (I used the cute little green squeezey bottle from the store as lately my limes have been looking super sad but I would prefer fresh lime juice)

5 oz. Izze Sparkling Clementine Soda

1 oz. agave syrup (it is a sweetener in liquid form.  I love to use it in drink recipes as you don’t need to stir until any granules dissolve.  It is easily found at most stores and Trader Joe’s also has a great version)

1/8 tsp. cardamom

1/8 tsp. cinnamon

1/16 tsp. nutmeg

1/8 tsp. clove

In a cocktail shaker add the tequila, lime juice, agave syrup and spices.  Shake it up.  Add ice to the top and shake again.  Add cold Izze Clementine Soda and give another, gentle shake {note:  this is a carbonated beverage.  It will blow the top right off the cocktail shaker if you are not careful.  If you prefer, you can stir in the soda instead of potentially producing a soda volcano}  Pour through the strainer in to two glasses.

I am a total lightweight but I think next time I make this I will up the tequila a bit.

You guys, this is super yummy!  In fact, I’m going to have another one or three tonight.

I also decided to try a cocktail with the Izze Sparkling Blackberry Soda.  But I didn’t have any more of the soda to shoot photos of the cocktail so the above will have to do.

Izze Sparkling Blackberry and Rosemary Margarita

2 oz. tequila

1/2 oz. lime juice

5 oz. Izze Sparkling Blackberry Soda

1 oz. agave syrup

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

cheesecloth (just a little square, enough to cover the strainer part of the cocktail shaker)

Add tequila and lime juice to cocktail shaker.  Take rosemary off the stem and add to cocktail shaker.  Muddle the rosemary (HINT TO FAMILY:  I really hope someone gets me an actual muddler for Christmas.  I felt really silly using the end of my ice cream scooper in front of Lauren).  Add agave syrup and ice to shaker.  Shake it up.  Add blackberry soda and gently shake or stir {again, use caution, the carbonation will wreck your world if you aren’t careful}.  Place the cheesecloth over the shaker strainer and pour in to two glasses.

If you try these let me know if you made any modifications!  I think they are pretty delicious but I am by no means a seasoned cocktail creator.

Thank you to Izze for inviting me to be in their craft challenge!!

Remember this craft I did with Izze previously?

Sharon

all photos are mine

I was given Izze soda.  All opinions are mine.  I can’t be bought with soda.