Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Rainbow Cupcakes

So in my post about Boogey's RAINBOW party HERE, I gave you a glimpse of the rainbow cupcakes that I made. Aren't they fun?

Colorful Rainbow Cupcakes

They were a big hit with the guests and defintiely came out better than this cupcake "fail" HERE.

Candy rainbows on cupcakes

Now, I won't claim that these were my original idea - you can do a google or pinterest search for "rainbow cupcakes" and come up with a kajillion blog posts about them. But I will share my process with you and if you get inspired or learn a little something... great! :)

First I mixed up 2 boxes of yellow cake (maybe one of these days I'll try making cake from scratch, but for now, I'm a "from a box" fan!). Then I divided the batter into 6 plastic bags. [Tip: place your bag in a plastic cup to help keep it open and make it easier to fill].

Use a cup to keep your plastic bag open while you fill it!

Batter divided evenly and ready to be colored

Next I put a little gel color into each bag and kneaded the batter until it was well-mixed.

Batter colored like the rainbow!

Next, I cut a small corner off the edge of each bag to make it easier to pipe it into the cupcake tins.

Cut a corner off the bags makes piping the batter easier

Then I piped a layer of each color into the tins trying to make sure the individually-colored layers were the same thickness.

Pipe the batter in equal layers of each color
Bake according to the package directions then remove from oven and cool.

Rainbow cupcakes waiting for frosting

These worked out much better than my semi-fail HERE and I was really pleased with the end result of the rainbow effect. So pretty!

Rainbow Cupcakes

Next I took out my tub 'o' frosting (I used buttercream) and got ready to make my rainbow-adorned sky. {sorry no pictures of the process, but it isn't too difficult to figure out}. First, I reserved a small amount of the white frosting in a plastic bag to use later for my "clouds". Then I colored the remaining amount blue to simulate the sky and spread it on top of each cupcake. Next I applied the rainbows! For these, I bought a package of Airheads Extremes in "rainbow berry" flavor - they're sour belts and I found them at the candy store. I cut the long belts into smaller pieces (about 3" or so), formed them into an arc and stuck the ends into the frosting to look like a rainbow.

{empty} wrapper of candy used to make rainbows

Then I piped a small amount of the reserved, no-colored frosting at the base of each end of the rainbow to (1) prevent the candy from sliding in the frosting sky and (2) simulate the look of clouds. It worked great and looked fabulous! Lastly, I added cupcake toppers I made using the same freebie images (found HERE at Paper Glitter) that I had used for the goodie bags and paper cup stickers.

Side note: If you haven’t ever made your own cupcake toppers before, they’re really easy but add so much “professional” flair! As mentioned, I used some freebie images I found online. I printed them out on photo paper  I bought at the dollar store (I don’t use my good photo paper for this project as it will just be tossed at the end of the day – use the inexpensive stuff! But I do find that the photo paper gives a nicer, more ‘professional’ finish/look than cardstock (but that would work OK too if it’s all you have). Then I cut the images out using a 2” circle punch. You can certainly do the cutting by hand, though, or use other shapes – so many options! Then I stuck the printed toppers to lollipop sticks using some 1” white circle stickers. (I use THESE which I found at Office Depot, but you could also just use scotch tape).  And that is it! So easy, but such a big impact. 

And... voila! I think they came out pretty darn cute if you ask me!

Rainbow Cupcakes with candy rainbows on top

And another view...

Candy rainbows really make these Rainbow Cupcakes special!

I think it's fair to call these a success, don't you??

Rainbow cupcakes

These would be great for St. Patrick's Day too!

 What do you think??

See the rest of the RAINBOW party HERE!

This project was featured! Thank you!!
And be sure to check out these fabulous blogs!!

Linking up to these parties - check 'em out: 
{If I joined your party but didn't link back here, I apologize. This post had to be rebuilt and I couldn't remember all of the places I had linked up - I'm so sorry!}
A Turtle's Life for Me
House of Hepworths
Polish the Stars
A Little Knick Knack
It's a Keeper
Somewhat Simple
The Frugal Girls
Kitchen Fun with My 3 Sons
WHile He Was Napping
Truly Lovely
Bacon Time with the hungry Hungry Hypo
Eat at Home Cooks



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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Party Punch

When I posted about Boogey's Rainbow Party HERE, I mentioned that I served some punch for the kiddos.

Rainbow Party Punch

I've never made a party punch before but did a quick search online to get some ideas in my head about the basics. I didn't follow any one recipe in particular, but kind of just "winged it" and it turned out DEE-LISH!  All of the kids loved it and the parents enjoyed it too.

There is no science to this punch... I literally just dumped my ingredients into the beverage dispenser (the kids helped me), gave it a stir and done! Here is what I used:

Boogey's RAINBOW Party Punch
  • 1 large can (12 oz.) frozen pink lemonade concentrate
  • 1 lemonade can's worth of water
  • 1 large bottle (64 oz.) of berry-flavored juice
  • 1 bottle (2 liter) of Diet Sprite
  • 2/3 of a large can (46 oz.) of pineapple juice (give or take depending on your tastes)

That's it! The kids loved this punch and there was hardly any left over at the end of the party. We mixed and served it in the awesome beverage dispenser the Heela gave me for Christmas. I don't know what it is about these things, but I honestly believe they make drinks taste even better! Plus, the kids love being able to serve themselves!

{If you want to make this punch a little more "adult friendly" just add a little vodka ;}

Do you have a favorite punch recipe?

Linking up to these parties - be sure to check them out!
While He Was Napping
A Turtle's Life for Me

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Taste Test - Ristorante Pizza by Dr. Oetker

Do you have any dinner traditions? Maybe "Spaghetti Mondays" or "Taco Tuesdays"? In our house, we somehow got into the tradition of "Pizza Fridays". The girls love pizza, as do I - after all, I am a born and raised Noo Yawker - oh, how I miss me some good NY pizza! :(

Anyway, it has become our tradition to have pizza for dinner on Fridays. We usually order it for delivery and the girls love when the "pizza man" arrives. But every once in a while we will make it ourselves using tortillas as the crust or even more rarely we buy pre-made frozen pizzas. I'll be honest that we don't usually go the frozen pizza route as it isn't as tasty as freshly delivered (you know, my sophisticated New York palate and all) (LOL).

Well, I recently had the chance to try out a couple of (new to me) frozen pizzas  {for free!} as part of my "BzzAgent" participation in the lastest "BzzCampaign" (see details below)! The brand is called Ristorante Pizza by Dr. Oetker and I have to be honest that I had never heard of it before I received my little promo package. The name is pronounced "oht-ker" and according to the materials that came in my package, it is the #1 frozen pizza in Italy even though it is actually a product of Germany.

The pizza comes in six 10" varieties and cooks in about 12 minutes:
Mozzarella: Fresh Mozzarella, sun-ripened tomatoes, zesty pesto sauce
Spinaci: Savory leaf spinach, mozzarella, hearty garlic sauce
Funghi: Aromatic mushrooms, mozzarella, tomato sauce, parsley, oregano
Quattro Formaggi: 4 premium cheeses: edam, mozzarella, emmental, blue cheese, basil seasoning
Vegetale: Tangy tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, chilies, sour cream sauce
Speciale: pepperoni, cooked ham, spicy herbs

In my promo package I received 2 "free" coupons so I selected the Quattro Formaggi and the Speciale for my family to try. At my grocery store (Giant Foods) the regular price is $4.29 (your price may vary) which I felt was a good price compared to other brands of frozen pizza.

Ristorante Pizza by Dr. Oetker

This is what the pizzas looked like before they were cooked.

Quattro Formaggio before being cooked

Speciale before being cooked

They both took about 13 minutes to cook at 425* - we did them at the same time. The directions specifically say NOT to place the pizzas on a cookie sheet or pizza stone, but I took some liberties, and placed the Speciale one on my special air-ated pizza sheet. I did, however, place the cheese pizza directly on the oven rack. When they came out of the oven they looked like this. Not exactly like the pictures on the box, but close.

4 cheese after being cooked
Speciale after being cooked

The Speciale one had a nice crispy crust despite being placed on the pizza sheet. The pepperoni and ham was good (although I'm not a huge meat fan) and even the 5-year old enjoyed a slice of that one. But I'll be honest that the Heela said it was "decent" but didn't "taste much different than any other frozen pizza". Size-wise, the Heela said he could easily eat one whole pizza himself (they are thin crust and about 10" wide). I'm not sure I could eat quite a whole one in one sitting, but could probably do about 3/4 of one on a hungry night. (The package says each pizza has 3 servings - ummm... ok).

The Quattro Fromaggio pizza did not come out with a nice crispy crust which was disappointing. I think our probelm, however, was not the pizza's fault but was instead due to the fact that we cooked both of the pizzas at the same time. We had put the cheese one on the middle rack and the meat one on the rack below it and I think the bottom pizza blocked the middle rack one and, therefore prevented it from getting as crispy as it should have. But we really enoyed the overall taste of this one. I liked the variety of cheeses and those dollops were especially tasty. The 4- and 5-year old both had a piece of this one, but made me scrape off those dollops before they would eat it (you know how finicky little ones can be!). They liked it well enough, but asked me to heat up a leftover slice of Papa Johns for their second serving.

Conclusion: As mentioned, we're not huge frozen pizza eaters to begin with so we aren't going to be making any huge changes in our habits due to this taste test. But the Heela and I agreed that it wouldn't be bad to have a few of those Quattro Formaggio pizzas in the freezer given the inexpensive price (less than $5 for one). I'm not personally interested in any of the other varieties offered (except the mozzarella), but the Heela said he wouldn't mind trying them. So I would probably buy this Ristorante Pizza again. If you're a frozen pizza "regular" I would definitely give this brand a shot! Visit http://www.oetker.us/ for more information.

Legal Stuff: I received coupons entitling me to 2 free Ristorante Pizza by Dr. Oetker and eight $1.50 pass-along coupons as part of my participation as a BzzAgent in the Ristorante Pizza BzzCampaign. However, my opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way by the fact that I received the coupons for free.

Note: What is BzzAgent? "BzzAgent is a network of consumers who voluntarily participate in word-of-mouth (WOM) programs for a variety of products and services. BzzAgent puts products in the hands of countless Agents and helps them share their opinions about them with friends and family via reviews, Facebook posts, photos and videos, blog posts and more". "You get to try awesome products [for free!], your friends get to learn about awesome products and awesome products get even awesomer by listening to your valued feedback". And the best thing, it doesn't cost anything to join or participate - just a little bit of time and the willingess to share your feedback. For more information on the BzzAgent program, including how to join, visit HERE.

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Rainbow Birthday Party

Warning... Lots of pictures!! Bear with me!!! :)

So Boogey turned 4 a few weeks ago. It feels like I just posted about her 3rd Birthday Party! (A Mod Monkey Party seen HERE). Darn, these kids grow up fast!

Well this year, we went with a RAINBOW theme and it was so much fun pulling it all together!

First I designed my own invitations using free clipart and Powerpoint. I printed the images on plain copy paper and pasted them on to pre-made blank notecards from my "stash". Here are samples with names/dates/info changed for privacy purposes.

Rainbow Party Invitation - Outside

Rainbow Party Invitation - Inside

I wanted to try and have as much rainbow-inspired decor as possible so we really went to town! First in the dining room... I purchased packs of plates and napkins in every color of the rainbow at Walmart. Obviously I had WAAAAY more supplies than I needed but they were only 97 cents a pack and the extras will certainly be used for future parties so really no waste there. I laid out a plastic balloon-design tablecloth over a plain white cloth one to protect the table - 4 year olds are messy folks! [Now, I have to be honest that the balloon tablecloth isn't really my style but I decided to just work with it since it had been given to me for free a couple of years ago from a relative. And, well, we all know how cheap frugal I am - free is good! ;)  ].

Helium balloons of every color were tied to the chairs and chocolate gold coins were scattered across the table. Plain white paper cups from the party store ($2.99 for 24) were jazzed up with some homemade stickers I made using a freebie file I found HERE at Paper Glitter. I simply printed the images out on sheets of sticker paper that I already had in my stash (previously purchased at Staples), cut them out using a 2-inch circle punch and had Boogey stick them onto the cups. Plastic straws from our regular stash were placed in each cup. (TIP: I always trim about an inch off the bottom of straws so they aren't quite so tall. Then there is less chance of a tip-over when you're dealing with shorter cups and pre-schoolers!)

Rainbow Party Table SetUp

Across the back window, I hung some streamers in every color of the rainbow to add some fun visuals and movement.

Rainbow Streamers were hung from a string across the back window

The goody bags were purchased individually from the party store (25 cents each, I think) and lined up along the sideboard. First I added some interest by cutting the straight tops with my scallop-edge scissors. Then I had Boogey add some of those homemade stickers to each of the bags.

Rainbow Party Goody Bags

Inside the bags I put a rainbow pack of paints, a fun rubber bracelet (saying things like "Awesome"), some chocolate coins, a pixy stick, a small bag of Gobstoppers and a rainbow slinky. The paints and bracelets were purchased at the party store for less than $1 each. The pixy sticks and gobstoppers were also from the party store and something like 5 cents each. The chocolate coins were from HERE but didn't actually cost me anything since I "bought" them using a gift card I won in a recent giveaway - score! And the slinkies actually didn't cost me anything either. Side story... last year, when I ordered some things from Oriental Trading for Boogey's 3rd Birthday Party, they accidentally sent me the wrong order. Instead of making me ship it back, they said I could keep everything! There was a TON of stuff in the box - seriously, at least $150 worth of cheap crap fun stuff - so we have been dipping into it every so often. The slinkies were one of the items in that box - score!

Goody Bag fillings

In the kitchen, we had the drinks and snacks. I made some punch for the kiddos and served it in the awesome drink dispenser the Heela gave me for Christmas. I decorated it with some of the ribbon from the balloons (they always make them way too long!) and a printout from a file I won for free (squee!) last fall from Birds Party's Blog (found HERE). {See my punch recipe HERE)

Punch always tastes better in one of these fun drink dispensers!

Since the party was at 2pm we didn't really need to provide much "real" food for everyone, but we did serve some bagel pizza bites, pretzels, rainbow goldfish and Sun Chips. The sweet treats were abundant though and I am sure the other parents were cursing me all night! LOL.

First we had a RAINBOW fruit salad...

Rainbow Party Fruit Salad

Then we had some Marshmallow Cloud Pops (made by SweetPea and Boogey following the same method we used HERE for SweetPea's Rock Star Marshmallow Pops) - in every color of the RAINBOW, of course.

Rainbow Marshmallow Pops

Rainbow Marshmallow Pop

Sunchips, pretzels and rainbow goldfish were placed in colorful buckets found at the party store for only 89 cents each! See my secret trick HERE on how I make snacks go further!

Rainbow Buckets willed with goodies!

We also served RAINBOW treats made with Fruity Pebbles. (see my recipe post for how to make these HERE}

Rainbow Fruity Pebble Treats

And then... the candy... bwahahahahahahaha! Skittles and M&M's were sorted by color and stored in super cute dispensers. These mini candy dispensers were another one of the items I "bought" with that gift card I won and can be found HERE. {Squee - don't you just love giveaways and free stuff!!}  I found the candy dots at Michaels and grabbed them on a whim (about $3, I think - and I didn't use them all). I cut them into smaller strips so they wouldn't be too deadly. ;)  The RAINBOW twizzlers were from Walmart and I cut those in half so they would go further and, again, not be too much sugar at one time (haha!) (again, less than $3 for the pack and I didn't use them all).

Rainbow Candy Spread
Even more rainbow candy

You can see my food label tents in the various photos above. I have to brag that I designed them myself and was quite proud of the end result. Not bad for an amateur, huh? I designed them in Powerpoint and printed them out on cardstock. A nice little added touch, I think. (if you're interested in using my file, I'm happy to share - just shoot me an email).

Self-made Food Label Tents added a little flair to the tables

Lastly... the RAINBOW cupcakes... these were a HUGE hit and I was really pleased with how they turned out (much better than this semi-fail HERE). You can find my full tutorial on how to make these in this post HERE. I made the cupcake toppers using the same freebie file (found HERE at Paper Glitter) as I used for the stickers on the cups and goody bags.

Rainbow Cupcakes

Yummy Rainbow Cupcakes

Activities included playing RAINBOW Bingo which I designed and created myself. I gave each of the kids a bag of pennies to use as markers. They had a really fun time with this! (again, if you're interested in using my file, I'm happy to share - just shoot me an email. It includes 15 different bingo cards - all the same images on each card, but in different locations). I called out the images such as "Who can find the Green Car? Who can find the yellow corn?" - the kids loved it!
Homemade Rainbow / Color Bingo Card

And lastly, we played Pin the Pot of Gold on the Rainbow. (I was inspired by THIS post over at Chickabug but decided to do my own take on it). The girls helped me make this and the guests had a lot of fun playing this game. You can see my full tutorial HERE, and here is the end result after the 'pot o gold' stickers had been added by the kids.

Pin the Pot of Gold on the Rainbow

Oh and last but not least, I hung a paper flag bunting across the fireplace. The flags were included as part of that file I won from Bird's Party Blog. I didn't even print them out on cardstock - just plain old printer paper - and strung them with some plain old kitchen string. But it added just a little bit of fun and a nice pop of color to the mantle.

Flag Bunting adds some color and fun to the fireplace

(In case you were wondering the "i love us" printable was a freebie from the fabulous blog Eighteen 25 - you can find it HERE in a variety of colors. I love it.).

Well, there you have it! A 4-year old's dream rainbow party! Boogey and her friends really had fun (as did we parents!) and I am pleased to call it a SUCCESS! :) If you have any questions or would like me to email you my food label tents or the Bingo cards, just shoot me an email (see "contact me" tab above).

{This post was featured! Thank you! Be sure to check out these fabulous blogs!!}

These Creative Juices
A Little Knick Knack

Featured on Cast Party Wednesday


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Linking up to these fun parties - be sure to check them out!
A Turtle's Life for Me
The Frugal Girls
While he Was Napping
A little knick knack
Keeping it Simple
Under the Table and Dreaming
Polish the Stars
These Creative Juices
Someday Crafts
House of Hepworths
Not Just a Housewife
Somewhat Simple
Kitchen Fun with my 3 Sons
Truly Lovely
Bird's Party
Lady Behind the Curtain

The CSI Project's Birthday Party Challenge

Visit thecsiproject.com

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