Search results for 'jamie'

Churro Cupcakes for a Surprise 60th Birthday Fiesta!

4 Feb

I threw my mom a surprise party to celebrate her big 6-0 last month with my extended family – about 20-25 of us in all.  Given her East Los Angeles roots and inherent love for Mexican food, I decided to give it a fiesta theme.  I ordered a taco bar style set-up from a fantastic family-owned Mexican restaurant near us and of course a portion of their fantastic mole (mom’s favorite).  I made Tomatillo Salsa, pico de gallo, guacamole, and three desserts for the party – Key Lime Bars with Pistachio Graham Cracker Crust (sans compote), Aaron Sanchez’s Mexican Chocolate Brownies, and these Churro Cupcakes.

Taco Bar - Who's Hungry?

Taco Bar – Who’s Hungry?

It’s been crazy busy at work the last few months, so I parceled out my time spent on crafting/planning over the course of about six weeks. For decorations, I found a few fun colorful pieces on Amazon that livened up our otherwise intentionally monochromatic home – paper buntings, serapes, festive patterned tablecloths, and pom poms.

Photo Backdrop

Photo Backdrop

Kevin and I also ended up hosting Christmas dinner which was two weeks before the party, so we had to hide everything away before she came over.  All of the streamers, party utensils, napkins, and plates were from Party City in every sort of bright color. I also bought a couple of cute craft kits from Paper Source – a mini pineapple pinata and a DIY set of six paper cacti. I used a white gel pen to add some “texture” to each cactus as well!

Cactus Kit

Cactus Kit

Jamie let me borrow her set of acrylic paints so I could add some color to the terra cotta pots I bought for the party favors.  They held the miniature cactus candles.  I also found some colorful candies to fluff up the favor bags.

Painting Pots for Favors

Painting Pots for Favors

Since Kevin and I had to go to a family wedding the morning of the party and with how long it takes to make cupcakes, I made these late the night before.  I was worried the crunchy topping that the original recipe suggested would get soggy overnight, so I skipped that component completely. Here is the recipe as adapted from Lady Behind the Curtain, without the crunchy topping!

INGREDIENTS:

For Cupcakes:
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
For Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 (8 ounce) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 5 cups confectioners’ sugar

DIRECTIONS:

For Cupcakes:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.
  2. Whisk together both flours, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until fluffy.
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla, and reduce speed to low.
  4. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of milk, and beating until combined after each.  Fill each cupcake liner three-quarters full. Bake for 20 minutes.

    Cinnamon-y Cupcake Batter

    Cinnamon-y Cupcake Batter

  5. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes.

    Cupcakes

    Cupcakes

  6. Top with cinnamon cream cheese frosting.

    Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

    Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

  7. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Set out 20 minutes before serving
For Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting:
  1. In a medium bowl, beat butter and cream cheese until light.
  2. Mix in vanilla and cinnamon; add confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time until all is incorporated.

    Churro Cupcakes

    Churro Cupcakes

Not having the time to actually paint anything, I searched online for some watercolor pieces to incorporate into the DIY dessert toppers, the invitation, favors, and more.

Dessert Trio

Dessert Trio

I had to keep the surprise from my brother as well until he came over, since he cannot keep secrets.  My mom thought she was meeting at my place and carpooling with me to a restaurant nearby.  I wanted to make sure I recorded her entrance, so I had my brother let her in the community gate when she arrived.  Right before she walked in, he asked, “Are you ready?”  Good thing she wasn’t already suspecting anything!

"Which dessert do you want?" "ALL THREE!"

“Which dessert do you want?”
“ALL THREE!”

My mom was really surprised and had a wonderful time, and it’s always great to spend time with my rambunctious family!

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Pintuck Apron

21 Dec

For Jamie’s birthday nearly two years ago (yes – still drowning in a sea of backlogged posts), I made this fun little pintuck piece since she’d told me she was in the market for an apron.  I found the tutorial on Wholly Kao, and wholeheartedly accepted the challenge.  And boy, was it a challenge!

I don’t think I’ve made something this difficult since those baby booties a few years ago.

Here’s the tutorial as adapted from Wholly Kao, but having the diagrams she drew in her tutorial will really help you:

ITEMS:

  • 1 yard fabric for the apron
  • 1/2 yard coordinating muslin (for the waist strap and ruffles)

INSTRUCTIONS:

MAKE THE TOP:

  1. Measure the distance between your armpits to get the width of the chest. Take this width and subtract 4. This new number will be how wide your top part is at its widest point. Measure from your chest to your waist to get the height.
  2. Take your patterned fabric and measure out a piece that is slightly larger than the width and height dimensions you just measured. Fold the fabric in half width-wise.
  3. Using a Sharpie, draw your top shape onto the folded fabric. This shape should look like a heart with a flat bottom. The widest point of this ‘heart’ is your (chest width minus 4 inches) measurement. Cut along your Sharpie line. You’ve now got your top piece! You can measure it against yourself to make sure it’s not too wide. If it is, trim it accordingly.

    “Heart” chest piece

MAKE THE BOTTOM:

  1. Measure out a piece of fabric for the bottom part that is 36-inches wide. The height for this can be as tall as you want. For instance, if you want the apron to hit mid-thigh, measure the distance from your waist to your thigh and use this number as the height. Spread the fabric out and cut out the corners so that they’re rounded. (see diagram)
  2. Now it’s time to make the pleats along the waist. Take the fabric at the top of the wide side and fold it accordian style and pin it in place. Do this only in the middle, leaving 6-inches on either side of the folds. Next, sew the folds in place, 1/4-inch in from the edge (see red dotted line in diagram).

    Tuck and Pin

    Tuck and Pin

  3. Pin the top and bottom part together on the wrong side. Sew the two pieces together on the wrong side, 1/4-inch from the edge.

    Coming Together

    Coming Together

MAKE THE WAIST STRAP:

  1. Cut a strip of muslin fabric (I chose a coordinating periwinkle shade) that is 5-inches tall and as wide as your bolt of fabric. Sew the ends of two of these straps together on the wrong side, making one really really long strap that is 50-inches long (This piece will tie around your waist, so you want to cut the length to fit you).
  2. Fold the strap in half, making a 2.5-inch tall piece. Pin the ends together, then iron the fold flat.
  3. Sew around the edges of the strap (red dotted line in diagram), 1/4-inch from the edge. Be sure to leave an opening on one side, so you can flip this piece inside-out.
  4. Flip the fabric so that the raw edges are now on the inside. Then sew the open edge shut (red dotted line in diagram).
  5. Now take the apron fabric and cut two strips that are 3-inches tall. Sew these together to make one long strip 50-inches long.
  6. Fold each edge in 1/4-inch and pin in place. Iron flat. Center this strip on top of the white strip and pin.

MAKE THE NECK STRAP:

  1. Cut a strip of apron fabric that is 2-inches tall for the neck strap. (The length of this depends on you: if you want a strap that is easy on and off, you can always put a buttonhole/button in the middle of this neck strap.)
  2. Fold the strip in half, making a 1-inch tall piece. Pin the edges together, then iron flat. Sew along the edges, making sure to leave an opening on one side. Once you’re done sewing, flip the fabric inside out.

MAKE THE RUFFLES*:

*If you want, you can just buy pre-made ruffles by the yard at the fabric store instead. If you do that, skip to “Assembling the Pieces Together”.

  1. Take the muslin fabric and cut it into strips that are 2-inches tall. Sew three of these together, making one really really long strap. Fold the strap in half.
  2. Make small pleats all along the fabric, pinning them in place as you go.

    Pleat, Pin, Repeat

    Pleat, Pin, Repeat

  3. Sew the ruffles in place, using the zig zag stitch on your sewing machine.

    Remove Pins as you Sew

    Remove Pins as you Sew

ASSEMBLING THE PIECES TOGETHER:

  1. Take the sewn edge of the ruffles and line them up with the raw edges of the front side of the apron, so the ruffles lie on top of the patterned part of the fabric. Pin the ruffles around the apron this way, then flip the ruffles out so that they look like this (diagram).

    Apron Hem - Finished

    Apron Hem – Finished

  2. Sew the edges together on the wrong side of the fabric. Then iron the front of the apron, where the fabric and ruffles meet.
  3. Pin the neck strap in place behind the ruffles.
  4. Now it’s time to sew everything together! Sew all along the apron, 1/4-inch in, making sure you sew the edges of the ruffle, as well as the straps in place.

    Neck Strap

    Neck Strap

  5. Last step: attaching the waist strap. Center the waist strap between the top and bottom pieces of the apron, and pin it in place. Sew along the edges of the inner fabric on the strap (red dotted lines on diagram), making sure you’re attaching the apron to the strap in the process.

    Waist Band - Finished

    Waist Band – Finished

Here’s the finished product:

Pintuck Apron - Finished

Pintuck Apron – Finished

And here is the birthday girl!

Birthday Girl!

Birthday Girl!

While the apron turned out pretty cute (if I do say so myself) in the front, it was just a hot mess behind it.  Lots of thread everywhere from places I went over and fixed, and I had a lot of thread-breakage issues for some reason with this project. I thought the tutorial was great with getting me to the end product, but there wasn’t a lot of thought put into covering up the unsightly back of the apron fabric.

Year One – Paper

31 Jul

Kev and I have been in the thick of home shopping the last couple of months and decided to take a break with a trip up the central coast.  Our first wedding anniversary last month was the perfect excuse for a little food and wine adventure in Paso Robles and Santa Barbara.  It was a great little extended weekend getaway to just reflect on what we’ve accomplished together and as individuals in the last year, and also reminisce a bit on our wedding day.  With the traditional “first year” gift being paper, we both agreed to just get each other cards since we were doing the trip and buying a home.  This reminded me to share some of the paper elements from our big day, beyond the stuff we created with the watercolor suite.

Year One - Paper

Year One – Paper

We had the traditional Japanese 1000 origami cranes as one of our motifs.  I didn’t start folding until about six months before the wedding.  I did 800, and several friends helped fold 400.  Yes, I was 200 over.  While I’d like to chalk that up to being an overachiever, I think in my frantic need-to-get-things-done mentality and balancing a very busy season at work, I somehow lost count and ended up making a lot more than I needed to. Oops!

For my non-Japanese friends, here is a little description of the significance of the cranes that we had on the back of our menus at each place setting during the reception:

1000 Origami Cranes

1000 Origami Cranes

Being fifth generation Japanese, I wasn’t planning on folding them but one of my distant aunts basically guilted me into doing it with a “You’re not Japanese if you don’t have the cranes. If you don’t do it, I’ll fold them all myself with my old lady hands.”  In the end, I think we were able to find a way to subtly include them and without having to end up with a crane-themed wedding.

Lining the Aisle

Lining the Aisle

We used the cranes as aisle markers, on each place card, and scattered them throughout the venue.

Place Cards with Mini Cranes

Place Cards with Mini Cranes

Another of my favorite paper elements was the perfect wedding day card that I found for my groom.

Til Death Star Do Us Part

Til Death Star Do Us Part

In lieu of a guestbook, we printed small cards using the “print suite” we had for people to write words of advice, date night ideas, etc.  I made a small bunting to decorate the vintage breadbox we used for people to drop the idea cards into after.  The font is the same font we used on our wedding invites, but a bit bolder, and the triangles were cut from a piece of gold glitter scrapbook cardstock weight paper.

"Cards" Bunting

“Cards” Bunting

I found a free watercolor image online and tweaked the color slightly to align closer to the blush we were using, and used that as a backdrop for several of the signs we created, including the reserved signage for our parents, bar menu, the 1000 cranes memo above, photobooth signage and the hashtag sign.  The gold ribbon was leftover from our invitations.  (PS – florals by the amazing Jamie!)

Reserved Signage

Reserved Signage

I think that about wraps it up for the paper elements of our wedding.  As I was looking through our photos for the paper crafts, I realized I have one more DIY project to share soon!

PS – Did I mention that all of these photos were taken by the AMAZING and highly recommended Rodney Ty Photography??

Happy First Anniversary, Kevin.  You’re done with year one of your life sentence.  I love you.

Shut Up and Dance with Me

Shut Up and Dance with Me

Peach and Blackberry Cobbler

17 Jan

Kevin and I enlisted some of our talented friends (or “friendors”) to help with our DIY weddingJamie tried her hand for the first time at assembling wedding florals for our big day.  We had bridesmaids bouquets, groomsmen boutonnieres, and a few corsages for our immediate family.

NOTE: All non-food photos in this post were taken by the talented Rodney Ty Photography.

Boutonniere and Corsage

Boutonniere and Corsage

Since we were serving a family-style dinner and to keep conversations fluid, we decided not to have large floral centerpieces and just do bud vases.  That kept costs down and workload relatively minimal – I say “relatively” because it was still a ton of work for Jamie in a very short amount of time.  I spied some fun and inexpensive hexagon-shaped mirrors in the 2015 IKEA catalog, and bought as many packs as we could get our hands on (they were hard to find!).  We also got the clear vases and aisle marker bud vases from IKEA, which my newly minted mother-in-law spray-painted gold for us.  We didn’t have any trouble drinking enough cabs to be able to recycle those bottles into table number holders too.

Bud Vases

Bud Vases

Jamie and I took a couple of early morning trips to the Flower Mart in downtown LA a couple months before the big day to scope out pricing, what was in season, and what flowers looked good together.  We even bought flowers to do some test bouquets, as well as see how the flowers would hold up in warm weather.  After some trial and error, we found some winners.

Bridesmaids Bouquets

Bridesmaids Bouquets

However, when we did another scouting trip the week before the wedding, we had to scrap almost all of our ideas when we realized that most of the flowers we had in mind weren’t in season anymore. Jamie, Shou, and I went to the Flower Mart bright and early the day before the wedding and played everything by ear, based on price and color.  What we ended up purchasing was lisianthus, dahlias, pink misty, silver dollar for some greenery, and my one splurge – David Austin roses for the bride/bridesmaids bouquets.

Bouquet

Bouquet

We were so impressed with how gorgeous the bridal party’s florals came out, and loved the look of the bud vases.  More detailed shots in the gallery below!

In the Aisle!

In the Aisle!

As a thank you to Jamie and Shou and also an early birthday celebration for Shou, Kevin and I hosted them for dinner.  We made giant porcini-rubbed rib-eye steaks, fresh chimichurri, roasted parmesan cauliflower, roasted red potatoes, and garlicky roasted asparagus.  I also wanted to take advantage of stonefruit season for dessert. Jamie and Shou had gotten us ramekins as a gift, so I HAD to use them!  Here is the peach and blackberry cobbler recipe, as adapted from Martha Stewart:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 to 4 ripe peaches (1 1/4 pounds), cut into eighths
  • 1 C blueberries
  • 1/4 C plus 1 T sugar
  • 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 2 t cornstarch
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 C heavy cream
  • 1/2 C plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of table salt
  • 1 t baking powder
  • Vanilla ice cream (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine peaches and blueberries in a bowl. Whisk together 1/4 cup sugar, cinnamon, and cornstarch. Add to the fruit and toss to combine. Set aside. Combine egg, 2 tablespoons melted butter, and cream in a bowl; whisk with a fork. Set aside.
  2. Sift together flour, salt, baking powder, and remaining tablespoon sugar. Make a well in center of dry ingredients, and pour egg mixture into well. Using hands, slowly draw dry ingredients into wet ingredients, and work dough until just mixed together. Don’t overdo it!
  3. Divide fruit mixture among four 8-ounce ramekins. Gently pat dough into 4 disks just big enough to fit on top of ramekins. After placing, brush dough with remaining melted butter. Place ramekins on a baking sheet. Bake until juices bubble up and crust is golden brown, 15 to 17 minutes. Serve hot, with ice cream if desired.
    Peach and Blackberry Cobbler

    Peach and Blackberry Cobbler

    Thank you again Jamie and Shou!!!

Valentine’s Day Cookies (Heart-Glazed Cornmeal Sugar Cookies)

20 Feb

In the spirit of said corporate faux holiday, I decided to bake in celebration of the pink and the hearts and all that other crap that Valentine’s Day is all about. I like things with cornmeal (i.e., cornbread, …can’t think of anything else) so I thought a sugar cookie using cornmeal would be a fun and different spin on your everyday sugar cookie. I got the recipe from Martha Stewart, of course.

Pre-Oven

After shaping the cookie dough into 1″ balls and rolling them in sugar, I used the bottom of a small dish to flatten them into 1.5″ discs.  Jamie (being the goddess of a good bargain) bought me a set of heart-shaped cookie cutters from a garage sale a few months ago, and I used the smallest one to cut partway through the cookie discs.

Post-Oven - Hearts Have Separated!

As the cookies baked in the oven, the shape took a more defined form as the dough rose.  I then glazed the hearts using the back of a spoon and a glaze made of powdered sugar, a wee bit of water and vanilla, and couple drops of food coloring.

Just Glaze

So what did I do with all of these cookies?  I ended up sending them to some Valentines that I declared my own, and some as thank you gifts to Leslie, Tri, and Annie for being their ridiculously awesome selves. The rest went to work with me on the actual day right before I left for Indianapolis and Grand Rapids on a whirlwind of a trip.  I spent my V-Day evening aboard two planes to Indy, closing the night with this charming fellow at my hotel in Indianapolis.  I probably would have gone on a date with Spalding had I been in LA.

Valentine's Day Cookies (Heart-Glazed Cornmeal Sugar Cookies)

2.5 days and six planes later (there were NO direct flights), I’m happy to say I survived the snow and icy roads of the Midwest.  I had asked work to reserve a car with 4-wheel drive, since both states were forecasted to receive snow during my stay. My flights to both destinations got in pretty late at night, so all of the economy SUVs were taken by the time I arrived at the Enterprise counter.  They graciously upgraded me to a Lincoln Navigator in Indy.  While I always insist that I’m of near-average height, I concede that I was way too short for this car.  I had to sit on one of my legs to see over the steering wheel because there were no booster seats included with the car.

Oh! I also made some Peanut Butter Thumbprint Cookies using dark chocolate Dove hearts (instead of the typical Hershey’s Kisses) because everyone is supposed to have chocolates or something classy on V-Day, right?

Happy Valentine's Day 2012!

The hell if I know. Until next year, Cupid!