Girly Dinosaur 4th Birthday Party

DSC_0887

 

DSC_0876

 

Dinosaur party for my little girl? Hell, yeah!

Kind of a last minute idea, kind of easy, and a lot of fun! Didn’t need much preparation, which was essential this time, since we just bought our new house (literally got the keys 2 days prior the party), and we are in the middle of moving.

 

DSC_0835

 

Before my daughter’s birthday, I organized another event at her preschool. We made a Fairies and Elves party as a fundraising event, that needed much more prep work, but then it was a party to host a larger number of kids. With so much going on lately, I haven’t really baked anything for us, hence the lack of posts. And another reason for not baking is that my husband is gluten intolerant, and we just found out several weeks ago, so ever since then I haven’t really baked anything. I definitely need to try out gluten free baking soon, but first things first, we are moving! Yaaaay!

 

DSC_0836

So,  as I said, we just got the keys of our house on Friday, and we hold ourselves back for another week or so before we get all of our stuff over to the new house, which luckily is only two streets away from the old house. In the meantime we have had one more last birthday party in the old house, and once everyone went home, I grabbed the fist cardboard box and started packing 🙂
DSC_0838
I am so glad we went for the dinosaur theme! Nothing was decided for quite a long time, because my daughter kept changing her mind like five times a day! Kid you not! Even regarding to have a party or not to have a party. She was messing with me, I’m telling you that 🙂 Mum, I dont’ want a party! … Yes, I want a party! … Mum, I don’t want any of my friends to come here! … Ok, I want only two of my friends, and plus her, plus him, and this and that to come….but actually I won’t have a party at all! ….She was very picky about who to invite, or who not to invite, and eventually we settled with 9 of her friends to make a round 10 with her included. In the end there were a lot more children, because some of them came accompanied with older siblings instead of parents, and my older kids were there too, and also my older daughter’s friend spent the day with us spontaneously.
DSC_0919
I must say I am not a fan of large parties. My kind of birthday parties are 6-8-10 children top, including the birthday girl or boy, and I already call this a big party. This is how I like it,  small, private, to know everybody by name, to interact with everyone, to be able to offer a cup of coffee or tea, and chat with our guests etc. I like to make a birthday party special and memorable, something different, and for me a smaller group of kids and parents are more manageable opposed to a classroom size crowd where is physically impossible to talk to everyone and to be a good host and be present everywhere. And my kids like it this way, too.

DSC_0892

DSC_0901
When we first talked about her having a birthday party, she was still doing ballet, so I started planning a ballet party, but one day she decided she won’t go to ballet classes anymore, which also meant ballet party was off the list.
However….did you notice that some of the dinosaurs are wearing tutu skirts? 🙂 This is how I combined a bit of ballet into the roaring Jurassic world! Perfect fit I’d say, isn’t it?
DSC_0896
To make the food labels I used the Picasa software.
DSC_0841
I made different coloured tutu skirts for a few dinosaurs (which we borrowed from our preschool, as we only have 6-7 dinosaurs at home) and I used some other little Barbie accessories to dress them up, like sunglasses, headset, guitar, little photo camera, etc.
For the desert table I carved a watermelon to look like a dinosaur head. Never done this before so I am pleased with the result, looked good on the table.
DSC_0906
I made simple vanilla cupcakes with raspberry cream frosting and decorated them with dinosaur cupcake toppers bought online.
DSC_0825
Recently I discovered these savoury crisps, which we served as Unicorn horns at my older daughter’s Unicorn Party few weeks ago, and now they did the job brilliantly as dinosaur teeth.
DSC_0833
We also served little dinosaur shaped ham&cheese sandwiches. I love this cutter, as very little bread and filling is wasted. You can cut two dinosaurs with one cut, and the two of them uses up almost all of a large sandwich, so no waste there.
DSC_0851
These are dark chocolate pudding with two layers of brownies in between. I had the little plastic cups left from store bought deserts. I put some hard sugar candy stones on top, which my son thought were real stones.
DSC_0909
I also bought Kinder Surprise eggs, unwrapped them, but shortly after putting them on the table they started to melt, so I quickly shoved them in the fridge before the party guests arrived.
Do you think I forgot about them and never gave any to the children? Make your guess……Right! 🙂
DSC_0884
I wrapped and labeled chocolate eggs as dinosaur eggs. Good thing that they’re not selling these only for Easter 🙂
DSC_0846
My favourite from the table were the sugar cookies, which we made together with my little daughter few days prior to the party. We used one of the big dinosaurs to imprint his footsteps into the cookie dough. We had fun doing them and the cookies were delicious.
DSC_0896
The cake was very simple, White Chocolate Cream cake. This is our “to go” cake for the kids birthdays lately, they love it and ask for it again, and again, and again!
DSC_0903
We served green Kubu (pears, kiwi and banana drink), although they were not too keen on drinking it 🙂
DSC_0843
For the party bags I ordered plain white paper bags online, then decorated them with cute little dinosaurs which I found and printed myself, and cushioned the bags with  rainbow colored tissue paper.
DSC_0882
We set up a dinosaur dig area for them to search for fossils. I bought a set of 12 little dinosaur skeletons and hid them in the sand pit. They had to dig them up and clean them with brushes. They loved this!

DSC_0921

 

 

 

 

The older girls applied dinosaur tattoos on the little ones.

 

P_20170611_165046

 

 

 

 

Another fun activity was to eat little donuts off a string without touching them with hands.

 

 

P_20170611_170540 (1)

 

 

 

 

We also had frozen dinosaur eggs which I made by inserting little dinosaurs in water balloons, filled with water, then put them in the freezer. We then poured warm water over the eggs to discover the dinosaurs when the ice was gradually melting off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DSC_1283

 

After everyone went home late afternoon, my little 4 year old (who’s birthday was actually on the day of her party) stayed out and played on her own at the sand pit for a good 20-30 minutes. After all the excitement she needed some time alone to cool off, process everything and take it all in….Happy Birthday my sweet Darling!

 

 

 

 

Blueberries and White Chocolate Chips Cupcakes with Pink Meringue Kisses

dsc_9583

 

 

My daughter and her friend baked blueberry-chocolate chips muffins on Thursday, and I put aside a few. They took care of the rest, meaning they decorated them and eat most of them. They did a very good job, and the muffins were delicious. The best part of all was that they genuinely had lots of fun in the kitchen!

 

dsc_9592

I had two egg whites in the fridge from the previous day so I thought I will use them to make meringue kisses. I don’t remember ever making them before, and there sure is room for improvement. They cracked, and I need to be more careful next time, although I’m not sure why it happened. But, they look adorable nonetheless, and tasted wonderful, so it’s not all that bad after all.
dsc_9596
dsc_9585
Ingredients:
-125 g butter, softened at room temperature
-1 cup brown sugar
-2 eggs
-1+1/3 cup flour
-1/3 cup milk
-2 teaspoon vanilla extract
-pinch of salt
-2 teaspoon baking powder
100 g white chocolate chips
-200 g fresh blueberries
Frosting:
-300 ml whipped double cream
-2 egg whites
-150 g white caster sugar
-pink food colour
Method:
Preheat the oven. Line your cupcake pan with the cases.
In a bowl, use an electric mixer on high speed to cream the butter and sugar together until it’s light and fluffy. Add the eggs and mix well.
Add the vanilla, flour and milk, and beat with the electric mixer until combined, but be careful do not over-mix, because it will become dry and sort of a bread.
Add the chocolate chips and blueberries and stir until it’s all incorporated.
Use an ice cream scoop and divide the mixture evenly in your cupcake cases,  fill them only 3/4.
Bake them for around 20 minutes, half way through you can turn your tray in the oven, but don’t open the oven in the first 10 minutes of baking, this is important!
Take them out from the oven, and you can leave the cupcakes in the pan for about 5 minutes before you transfer them on a wire rack.
Whip the egg whites adding the sugar above a pan of hot boiling water. This way the sugar will dissolve quickly and you get a shiny, smooth mixture. Transfer into a piping bag, cut the end (about the size of a 5 pence) then pipe the egg cream on a roasting pan lined with baking paper. Bake until it’s dry and comes off easily from the paper.
dsc_9577
dsc_9598
dsc_9600
dsc_9561
dsc_9563
dsc_9567

Espresso Chocolate Cake

dsc_9521

This is a white chocolate cream cake with the taste of coffee. If you love chocolate and you love coffee, then what could be better then a chocolate that tastes like coffee? A chocolate cake which tastes like coffee, maybe…? Right. You came to the right place.
dsc_9506
I brought this delicious espresso chocolate from Hungary thinking that I will not just eat it, but bake a light sponge cake then fill it with espresso ganache. I was very pleased with it, and the family appreciated it above expectations, even the kids (because we all know how kids approach coffee….) .
dsc_9518
Ingredients:
5 large eggs, separated
5 Tbs flour
5 Tbs white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
salt
(I put a few drops of yellow food colour to get this yellow sponge – optional)
Filling:
600 ml double cream
150 g espresso white chocolate
Decoration:
whipped double cream and food colour of your choice
dsc_9513
Method:
You need to prepare the filling for this cake one day before baking and decorating.
Warm up 600 ml double cream in a sauce pan, add the espresso chocolate broken into small pieces. Don’t boil it, just keep on the stove stirring continuously until the chocolate has melted completed.
Next day:
Preheat your oven. In a large bowl start whipping the egg whites with a pinch of salt adding the sugar. Whip until you get a firm consistency.
Add the vanilla extract and egg yolks one at a time, whipping a few seconds after each one.
Add the flour (first mix with the baking powder) carefully. Don’t use the electric mixer anymore, just a large spoon to combine the egg mixture with the flour. Once ready, divide the batter equally in 4 baking pans, or large paper baking cases, like I did. This way I didn’t have to cut layers after baking, because I had them all four ready made.
I baked two layers first for about 20 minutes, then the other two. Let your cake cool completely.
To cover this cake, I divided double cream in five portions and coloured them each individually. I started applying the top layer first, the yellow, then went to the bottom and put the dark purple, followed by light purple, blue, green, and finally more yellow. Then I carefully blended the colours here and there. No need to be too accurate here, be creative, even a little messy and you’ll get a lovely, ombre or rainbow coloured unique looking cake.
This cake is light, is creamy, it tastes like coffee with cream, it’s perfect, and I couldn’t ask for more!
dsc_9508
dsc_9504
dsc_9509

Nostalgia – Time travelling to the past

dsc_7845

 

dsc_7854

 

I got a few vintage crochet lace mats and doilies from my mother which she got from my grandmother, which she got from my great grandmother, who made them…..yeah, we’re talking about old stuff here, very old! And beautiful 🙂

 

dsc_7849

 

 

dsc_7840

When I saw them, I knew I have to use them as a background for a batch of shabby chick cupcakes. I’m not all into this vintage design, but sometimes it feels good and relaxing to go through old black & white family photos, remembering our dear relatives who were around when we were kids, and those who we never met but we were told countless stories about.

 

dsc_7848

 

 

dsc_7849

Here is my great grandmother, standing in a white dress on the right of the framed photo. She died before I was born at the age of 82. She was 16 when she posed for this photograph….I never knew her, but I know she was the mother of my dear grandfather, and I LOVED her, and I treasure her photograph, which is in fact my absolute favourite of all the old family photos we have. The photo was taken in 1906, and every time I look at it, makes me wonder about that particular day….what was she thinking, how did she spent the rest of her day, how was she feeling, did she ever imagined that one day her photo will end up in her great granddaughter’s wall who she will never meet, but will think the world of her nonetheless….

 

dsc_7838

 

dsc_7846

 

No recipe here today guys. I only baked these for the sake of remembering and reflecting on the old times.

Very therapeutic 🙂

 

dsc_7854

 

 

 

 

 

Light Summer Cupcakes with Elderflowers

dsc_7692

 

Although it is officially Autumn already, I bring you these light and fluffy elderflower cupcakes which is a classic representation of the Summer. But, as you might notice, I way away for pretty much the whole season. My last post was sometime at the beginning of July. Not only that I haven’t posted anything during these weeks, but I haven’t baked anything either. Too much going on, and we were away for our annual holidays abroad, plus we were not really craving sweet cakes. That’s one good thing about the summer amongst the endless other things 😉 Oh, how I wish it would be always summer!

 

dsc_7675

 

dsc_7693

 

Back to the table, I present you these easy, light, little cakes. As innocent as they look, they have a strong character when you taste them. I put lots of fresh elderflowers in the batter, I picked them myself from the bushes in front of the house. And also used elderflower cordial to flavor the frosting cream. They are a must try for those who like the taste of elderflowers.

 

dsc_7689

 

I used my basic vanilla recipe and threw in lots of small flowers. I didn’t wash the flowers to keep all the flavors, but I picked from a place where there is no road traffic, so they were relatively clean, then I just cut of the little flowers from the stem.

 

dsc_7695

 

Ingredients:

-125 g butter, softened at room temperature
-1 cup brown sugar
-2 eggs
-1+1/3 cup flour
-1/3 cup milk
-2 teaspoon vanilla extract
-pinch of salt
-2 teaspoon baking powder
elderflowers (1/2 – 1 cup)
Frosting:
-300 ml double cream
-2-3 Tbsp elderflower cordial
Method:
Preheat the oven. Line your cupcake pan with the cases.
In a bowl, use an electric mixer on high speed to cream the butter and sugar together until it’s light and fluffy. Add the eggs and mix well.
Add the vanilla, flour and milk, and beat with the electric mixer until combined, but be careful DO NOT OVER-MIX, because it will become dry and sort of a bread (take Laura Vitale’s word for that🙂)
Sprinkle in the flowers and stir until it’s all incorporated.
Use an ice cream scoop -if you have, and divide the mixture evenly in your cupcake cases, but fill them only 3/4.
Bake them for around 20 minutes, half way through you can turn your tray in the oven, but NEVER open the oven in the first 10 minutes of baking, this is important!
Take them out from the oven, but leave the cupcakes in the pan for about 5 minutes before you transfer them on a wire rack.
After they are cold, whip the double cream adding gradually the preferred amount of cordial.

dsc_7694

 

dsc_7691

Walnut Cream Cheese Cake

DSC_7761

 

I had three layers of thin walnut cake in my freezer, and all I did now was whip a pack of Mascarpone cream cheese with double cream and few tablespoon of ground walnuts and sugar. Oh, and some vanilla extract to make it even better 🙂
This cake was gone by the evening…
DSC_7765
Ingredients for the filling:
250 g pack of Mascarpone cream cheese
600 ml double cream
pinch of salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
5-6 Tbsp mixture of ground walnuts and brown sugar
I actually might have put more than that, because I wanted lots of walnuts in the cream, but everyone can adjust the quantity to fit their personal preference.
DSC_7771
Ingredients for the cake:
-2 2/3 cups flour
-2 cups brown sugar
-1 tsp Mixed spices
-1 tsp ground cinnamon
-1 tsp baking powder
-1 tsp baking soda
-1 tsp sea salt
-4 large eggs
-1 cup coconut oil, melted
-2 tsp vanilla extract
-3 cups freshly grated carrots
-1 cup chopped nuts
-1/2 cup yogurt
This quantity will result in a pretty big cake, with thicker layers than mine here. So, if you want thin layers then you should use only half of the ingredients. I had mine baked weeks ago, and when assembling my cake back then I had to cut of the excess since it would have been much thicker then I wanted for that particularly cake. I freezed those cutoffs, and now only took them out and made a filling.
Method:
Preheat the oven. Prepare your baking pans, grease them with little butter or greasing spray. I used giant paper cases.
In a large bowl, mix the flour with the spices, baking powder, baking soda, salt.
In another large bowl, mix the eggs with the sugar, vanilla. I actually never use my electric mixer when I make carrot cake, instead I only use a large hand mixer.
Stir in the carrots, then add the flour mixture, finally the chopped pecans. Stir well until everything is combined.
Pour equally in the prepared pans and bake for 20-25 minutes.
DSC_7772
DSC_7766

Happy Fathers Day!

DSC_7536

 

 

DSC_7544

This is a no-bake desert, but very rich and full of flavours. I meant to try for a long time to use After eight chocolates to make little square boxes, but I didn’t really know how until I found the little Millionaire’s squares in the store. It turned out they were the perfect match, same size.

 

I only whipped some double cream and threw in some gold chocolate sprinkles with fresh strawberries to create the picture perfect.
Happy Fathers Day!

DSC_7554

 

DSC_7539

 

DSC_7547

 

DSC_7544-2