Saturday, June 11, 2011

{Surprise Birthday Dessert Bar}

Hi everyone!  I just want to share a few of the projects that I have been working on.  I had so much fun creating this surprise dessert bar for my mom's birthday party last weekend and she and the guests really enjoyed it too!  I was inspired by the paper goodies I picked up from a local craft store and took it from there.  I used navy, green and brown throughout the treats, ribbon and vessels.  I set up the dessert bar outside to be photographed and then I moved it indoors.  I actually moved it around quite a bit considering I had to transport everything to her house, but it was worth it!  Here's a few pics of how it turned can click on them to enlarge.

I baked the cake and cake pops and it was the perfect excuse to work with cakewalk desserts for the pie pops!  They worked out great as party favors and our guests loved them!

I also created a mini s'mores bar with graham crackers, the new s'more marshmallows and mini hershey's bars.  I threw a few gooey caramels in there as well.


Here are a few more of my favorite details.

Also, I recently switched over from a pc to a mac and have been experimenting with it... I was able to whip up this little video montage.  I love the vintage effect!

Happy weekend everyone! 

Friday, June 10, 2011

{Father's Day Gift Ideas}

With Father’s Day around the corner, we thought you might enjoy a crafty little project.
How To:  Make Dad feel extra special by decorating his favorite snacks with retro clip art labels.
1.     Download this template and cut the labels down to size.

2.     Using double-sided tape, affix the label to cellophane bags or jars filled with his favorite snacks. 


Consider a few more treats to pair with your sweet gesture:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

{S'mores Bar}

Today’s guest for our Raising the Bar series is the sweet Nicole Greene; Chef & Owner of Chicago based truffle truffle. 

To create our s'mores bar, we are focusing in on their gourmet shortbread s’mores from the "sweet suite" signature collection (you may also want to pick up some truffles, caramels and pretzels from this collection to pair them with).  These gooey little marshmallow treats have been with truffle truffle since their launch in the summer of 2009.  And you don't even have to be near a campfire to enjoy them!

With 11 s'more flavors offered in their "sweet suite" signature collection, who could resist.  There are also a couple of seasonal s'more flavors, like their gingerbread & pumpkin s'mores, which return during the winter holiday season and would make the perfect addition to a dessert bar or a sweet gift.   
Sweet displays designed by the creative team at truffle truffle.

I asked Nicole to share a little bit more about these delicious little treats with us.
I love the s'mores because they offer a fun & modern twist on one of my favorite childhood treats (not that I don't still devour authentic campfire s'mores as an adult though!). I have always loved camping, and let's face it, the best part of the trip is the gooey, charred goodness of a melted marshmallow sandwiched between graham crackers and chocolate bar squares! Yum! As I got older and increasingly more obsessed with food and flavor combos, I started experimenting with flavor-infused chocolate bars to enhance my campfire s'more experience, pairing the standard marshmallow and graham cracker combo with chocolate mint or chocolate peanut butter bars. That's where the idea for our gourmet shortbread s'mores was born! One day, in the midst of a daydream, a vision of the inside of what became the truffle truffle s'more flashed before my eyes, and I couldn't wait to go home and start experimenting! First I played with infusing the marshmallows with a punch of flavor, either by steeping the water with fresh herbs, or adding oils & natural extracts to the recipe. Once the marshmallows were ready to go, I decided to enhance the flavor even further by pairing each marshmallow with the perfect shortbread cookie complement. For example, the shortbread cookies for the chipotle peanut butter marshmallows also have a dash of chipotle and peanut butter folded into the dough. This pairing helps the flavor stand up to all of that delicious chocolate! We even have a graham cracker-flavored shortbread cookie to pair with our coconut key lime and banana cream s'mores, replicating a graham cracker pie crust. I suppose we could have gone with a standard graham cracker, but the buttery, flakiness of the shortbread cookies was just too hard to resist! The final touch is the chocolate shell. We hand enrobe the s'mores, carefully dipping the marshmallows first so that the chocolate will act as a glue holding the delicious sandwich together, and then we enrobe the whole thing in either a milk chocolate or dark chocolate shell. Ooh la la! As a chef, it's hard to choose, but I think my personal favorite s'more flavors are the orange tarragon and coconut key lime. I will inevitably "sabotage" at least one of those while enrobing every batch to be sure I have an unsellable "ugly" for personal consumption! (shhh!)
One of the defining aspects of truffle truffle is that we pay as much attention to our packaging as we do to our treats so that they appeal as much to the eye as to the palate. Our s'mores are available individually wrapped, as well as in our reusable 4pc and 12 pc magnetic boxes, so they make a perfect personal indulgence, or gourmet gifts! Summer is's the season for s'mores! And these s'mores, IMHO (in my humble opinion), can't be beat!

Thanks truffle truffle for stopping by today!  We just love your tasty s'mores and treats and the beautiful packaging!  Be sure to stop by their site to check out their I <3 Chicago collection, truffle cakes and all of their other dreamy desserts too!

Monday, June 6, 2011

{Storybook Baby Shower}

This storybook-themed baby shower stole my heart.  It was featured in the May 2011 issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine.  I wanted to share it in case you are in the process of planning a baby shower.  I love that this story-book theme is gender neutral and works whether the parents-to-be are expecting sweet baby boy or girl. 
A storybook garland, moon and star-shaped details are used to decorate the snack bar.

The menu is artistically labeled across the spines of the paper-covered books.  Also consider stacking a few books together to create centerpieces.

Grab some cookie cutters and create various mini-shaped sandwiches!  Each dish creatively ties-back to the storybook theme.

Bite-sized snacks are displayed over doilies folded in half. 

Send your guests off with sweet favors that tie-back to the storybook theme like these little lamb cookies.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

{Mini Pie Bar}

I know I say this every week, but each week I am beyond thrilled to share a brand new bar idea on our Raising the Bar series!  I’m not going to lie; it’s getting just a little bit tougher to stare at all of the dreamy desserts on my computer screen while trying to get in shape for summer, but who's counting calories, right?

Image courtesy of Cakewalk Desserts

Today’s sweet guest is the amazing Andrea Smetona, founder of Cakewalk Desserts.  Andrea founded Cakewalk Desserts last summer as a bit of a side project.  It was soon after that she realized the demand for these little sweet treats was the perfect match for her love of baking, turning this side project into her full-time love affair! 

Cakewalk Desserts specializes in couture Cake Pops, Pie Pops and Mini Pies.  These bite-sized sweet treats come in a variety of flavors and designs and make a perfect addition to a dessert table, a practical and elegant wedding favor and for some, are now even taking the place of the traditional wedding cake itself (hold on to that thought because you may change your mind later in the series).

Image courtesy of Lauren Hillary Photography
Images courtesy of Smetona Photo

Andrea’s educational background in Interior Design has given her an advantage in the mini dessert industry because they like to consider the "whole picture," meaning they take into account how these pops are best packaged for each occasion, the display and the overall presentation of the pops.

Images courtesy of Bethany Belle Photography (L) and Zoom Theory Photography (R)

Proper displays really showcase mini desserts and ensure that they aren’t missed or forgotten! There is something so special when a bride asks you to be a part of their big day, and Cakewalk knows that each order should be unique and reflect the style of the bride and groom they’re made for!

Images courtesy of  Smetona Photo
Thanks Cakewalk Desserts for stopping by today and stay tuned because you may see more of Cakewalk Desserts back here soon! 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

{Sweet Wedding Inspirations: Sky Lanterns}

I hope you all enjoyed the long weekend and had some time to reflect and pray for our service men and women and their families. 
With Memorial Day behind us, I can’t help, but to think about the onset of summer.  My husband (Eddie) and I were married almost 2 summers ago and I'm really looking forward to celebrating our wedding anniversary (preferably somewhere on a beach). 
Over the long weekend, we were able to pop into the movie theater to see The Hangover Part 2.  Although, I wasn’t a huge fan of the movie (I loved part 1), I did take away some sweet wedding inspiration.  I thought this sky lantern tradition found in some Asian cultures, would be a unique idea to incorporate into a summer time, beach or destination wedding (just be sure to check with your city for permission first).
I was amazed by how pretty it looked so I did a little research.  Here’s what I found… Sky lanterns are constructed from oiled rice paper in a bamboo frame.  They contain a small candle or fuel cell composed of a waxy flammable material. When lit, the flame heats the air inside the lantern and lowers its density, causing the lantern to rise into the air, similar to a hot air balloon. The sky lantern is only airborne for as long as the flame stays alight, after which the lantern floats back to the ground.
It is believed that, as the lanterns rise into the air, they take away troubles and bring good luck. Guests are able to write their wishes for the couple, to be sent to the sky or to be carried into the Heavens.

Did you or are you thinking of incorporating wedding traditions into your wedding day?