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How to Make Emoji Rice Krispies Treats

13 Aug

Hi all! I’m back with some more creativity in the kitchen. Emoji Rice Krispies Treats! (Just look at how good they came out. Believe me, I’m more shocked than you are!)

Sue at Home Emoji Rice Krispie Treats main

Before we get started, I need to give major props to Mister Krisp who is the one-and-only inspiration for this project. If you don’t know about her — and yes, this Mister is a her — Jessica Siskin is a NYC-based writer who just happens to make amazing dessert art with Rice Krispies treats. She has a huge following on Instagram and one of her most famous projects is her emojis. (While you’re checking out her Instagram, be sure to note her Rice Krispies tacos,  her Rice Krispies burger and oh yeah, her Rice Krispies Drake. I figured the emojis would be a great project for me and the girls to make to take to a barbeque today. (Shout out to Kelli and Rob!)

Sue at Home Emoji Rice Krispie Treats ingredients

The ingredients you’ll need are: 6 cups of Rice Krispies cereal, 3 tablespoons of butter, a 10 ounce bag of marshmallows, yellow food coloring, Pam cooking spray and frosting in the following colors: black, white, blue, red and pink. I bought tubes of Wilton decorating icing in black and red and then made a quick mini batch of white icing and used food coloring to make the other colors. (Note: I do NOT recommend the Wilton Ready-to-decorate cans. The frosting comes out too fast and it’s very hard to control.) For supplies, you’ll need a round cookie cutter and a Wilton #3 round piping tip. (If you want blush on some of the blushing emojis, you’ll also need red food coloring and a foam brush.)

The Rice Krispies treat directions are right on the cereal box: you melt the butter in a big saucepan on low, then add the marshmallows. As they melted, I added about 5-6 drops of yellow liquid food coloring to get the emoji color.

Sue at Home Emoji Rice Krispie Treats melting

Then you remove it from the heat and stir in the Rice Krispies. We laid wax paper on cookie sheets (just to protect the table) and dumped the mixture in the middle. Then I used a spatula coated in Pam to spread it out and press it down so it was flat. They should be somewhere between 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch high. I kind of like how fat this one in the front came out and it’s about a 1/2 inch.

Sue at Home emoji rice krispie treats close up

After you’ve got the mixture all spread out (you might need more than one cookie sheet), use the cookie cutter to cut circles. (You can spray it with Pam so it doesn’t stick.) You’ll want to use a flat spatula coated in Pam to lift them. Do not underestimate the stickiness of melted marshmallows! Pam is your friend. Pam is sort of like the most important ingredient in this whole recipe. Use her wisely! In fact, Mister Krisp even advises spraying it on your hands to mold Rice Krispies treats. We did just that and reworked the leftovers into a new layer of Rice Krispies treats to cut from. (Like those pictures behind Sophia? You can read all about our photo wall in this post.)

Sue at Home emoji rice krispie treats cutting

Sidenote: On the first batch, I completely forgot the food coloring! We decided to still use some of them (I mean, they taste the same!) even though they looked more like rice cakes. Oops. You can see the difference here.

Sue at Home Emoji rice krispie treats 2 colors

All you have to do after you cut them is pipe on the frosting. I know this may sound daunting but if you’ve ever piped “Happy Birthday Whoever” onto a cake, you can do this. It’s just a series of little half circles and lines, plus some hearts, tongues and teardrops. (I kept this image from Mister Krisp up on my laptop as I worked.)  I don’t have any shots of me actually piping it because my assistants were totally over me at this point but here’s my advise: keep the piping tip close to the Rice Krispies treats, move slowly, and squeeze hard. As long as you stay close and go slow, you can’t screw it up.  If I ever make this again, I’ll invest some more tips because the biggest annoyance was taking the tip off and washing it before starting the next color. Here’s a process shot with just black and white icing.

Sue at Home Emoji Rice Krispie Treats black piping

But they really come to life once the other colors are added!

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Some of them, like the little guy on the bottom left below, call for blush. I couldn’t find a tutorial from Mister Krisp so I just figured it out on my own.

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I used some blood — just kidding! — but seriously, doesn’t it look like blood? It’s actually red gel food coloring. I put a little on a plate and used a foam brush to just dab a little color onto his cheeks. Just be sure to blot it A LOT on the paper plate before putting it on the emoji. I think it worked out pretty well for those little shy guys!

Sue at Home Emoji Rice Krispie Treats blush collage

It was an easy, though somewhat time-consuming, project that looks a lot more impressive than I thought it would!

So, tell me…what’s your favorite emoji? I probably use the smooch lips the most because I “speak emoji” with my kids more than anyone else but I am partial to the wink and the heart eyes too!

Hope you’ll try this fun project!

XO

Sue at Home

Sue at Home Emoji Rice Krispies Treats Pin

The Only Guacamole Recipe You’ll Ever Need

8 Aug

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Okay, maybe not just three people but I do admit I have a pretty serious obsession with guacamole. In fact, I’ve made it my life’s work to perfect my guac recipe. And today I’m here to share it with you beautiful people. (By the way, that print above is a poster from a site called Dormify and I might have ordered it if it wasn’t from a site called Dormify.)

Sue at Home Guacamole with chip

Now don’t think you’re going to get some secret ingredient here because my recipe is pretty basic. But with the right ratios of those basic ingredients, I think you’ll agree that this guacamole is pretty special.

I know I sound like I’m tooting my guacamole horn but I get requests to make guac for just about every party I go to but I recently had such a nice compliment that I figured this post was far past due. It all started when I made it for Sophia’s end-of-the-season soccer party and a bunch of people at the party asked for the recipe. Then a few weeks into the summer, I got this text from one of my fellow soccer moms: “Huge shout out to you for the guacamole recipe. I have made it 4 times for different events/people and everyone LOVES it. Thank you!!!” (So you can all thank Donna for her compliment because it made me finally get around to writing this post.)

Sue at Home guacamole ingredients

I meant to share this recipe with the Sue at Home readers years ago but…I ate it. No — seriously. Back in 2012, I photographed every step of the chopping process but then once it was in the bowl, it disappeared so quickly that I never got a shot of the actual finished product. Oops. Luckily, I got some shots this time before I inhaled it so let’s get down to business, shall we?

First off, you’ll need 5-6 ripe avocados. Don’t even attempt this recipe if your avocados aren’t ripe because you’ll waste your time and end up with crappy guacamole. (And it won’t be my fault.) I get mine at Whole Foods because I like to bleed money  they always have ripe ones. The rock-hard avocados that most stores sell won’t be ripe for about 6 days…and who wants to wait that long for guacamole?

Sue at Home Guacamole avocado and knife

You’ll need 1 or 2 vine-ripe tomatoes. I usually take most of the guts out but I leave a little to keep it juicy. Chop ’em up but don’t worry about getting them too small.

Sue at Home guacamole tomato

Most guacamole recipes call for red onions but since they’re disgusting and they repeat on me, I use spanish or vidala onions. Just a half an onion chopped up should do it. Now is a good time to mention that I use one bowl for the good stuff and one bowl for the junk because it makes me feel like I have my own cooking show. Oh — and my bowls are from Anthropologie (similar here) but you probably already knew that because I used them in the rainbow cake post.

Sue at Home Guacamole onion

Next up is the divisive cilantro. I know some people don’t like it. (In fact some people are even genetically predisposed to think that it tastes like soap. If you think I’m kidding, you’ve got to read this article in the New York Times. Apparently, even Julia Child hated the stuff.) But the recipe isn’t quite the same without it so just hope that you don’t have any of those cilantro haters in your audience. Grab a big handful off the bunch and chop it up. Technically, you’re supposed to pull the leaves off the stems but I never do and I’ve never had a complaint.

Sue at Home Guacamole cilantro

To give your guacamole a little kick without lighting your guest’s mouths on fire, a few jalapeno peppers should do the trick. This is one part of the recipe that has evolved over the years. I used to use one jalapeno, then two. Now I’m up to three or four. As long as you take the seeds out, the jalapenos will just add some nice flavor without too much heat. Just be sure to really mince them so your guac doesn’t have huge chunks of jalapeno. A couple tips: Cut the top off and then make a few little slices down the side with your paring knife. (See below) Then you can slide the knife in and separate the guts from the outside without getting seeds all over the place. And also — scrub your hands like crazy after handling jalapenos because if you don’t and you’re a contact lens wearer like me, your fingertips will burn your eyeballs like the depths of hell. (You’ve been warned.)

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Sue at Home Guacamole jalapeno

I like my guacamole nice and citrusy so I use the juice of a whole lime. Can’t you practically hear Tom Colicchio saying that my guacamole has “good acid”?

Sue at Home Guacamole lime

Two more things — which just might be the most important ingredients of all — salt and pepper. I’ve never measured the amount I put in but I can tell you that I’m very generous with the salt. Go ahead and mix everything up and then add salt and pepper to taste. I just keep adding salt until I think it’s perfect. (And to those eagle-eyed readers out there — yes, that’s the pepper shaker from the set of shakers we gave out as wedding favors 14 years ago! More on those here.)

Sue at Home Guacamole pepper

Some people slice up the avocados before they scoop them out but I find that they mush up nicely without doing that. Just scoop them out with a spoon!

Sue at Home Guacamole avocado scoop

Of course, this is just a personal preference but I like to serve my guac with Tostitos Bite Size chips. If you use a bigger chip then you end up eating more chip and less guacamole and really…isn’t the guacamole the star, here?

Sue at Home Guacamole bowl with chips

You’ll definitely want to make this fresh right before you serve it or your guacamole will turn brown. But if you need to, go ahead and combine all of the ingredients (except for the avocados!) a day in advance and keep them in a closed container in the fridge so all the flavors can party and get to know each other.

Sue At Home’s Only Guacamole Recipe You’ll Ever Need

5-6 ripe avocados 

1/2 spanish onion, chopped

1-2 vine-ripe tomatoes, chopped 

1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped 

3-4 jalapeno peppers, minced

Juice from a whole lime

Salt and Pepper to taste 

**Serve with Tostitos Bite Size chips

Chop all of the ingredients and stir until mashed and combined. It makes a nice, big, party-size portion but it’ll go fast. (One time my friends ate the whole bowl while I was busy making mojitos. True story.)

Happy Guacamole Making!

XO

Sue at Home

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Recipe: S’mores Bars

10 Aug

I’m here with a quick post to tell you about an amazing dessert I made yesterday. I didn’t photograph all the steps but I heard so many “I need the recipe!” comments at the BBQ that I brought them to, I figured I’d write a quick post to tell you where to go to find it.

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I had never made a cookie bar before but when I saw this recipe for S’mores Bars on Life in Grace, I just had to make it. 

It starts with a cookie dough-like mix of graham cracker crumbs, flour, baking powder, salt, eggs, vanilla, brown sugar, white sugar, and of course, butter. You start by spreading half of the dough into the bottom of a greased pan. (Follow Edie’s tip about spreading it with a knife dipped in warm water. I used the backside of a metal spatula – like this one – and the water trick made it really easy.) After the dough, you layer Hershey chocolate bars and then marshmallow fluff. 

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After the fluff, you just add the rest of the dough on top, add a handful of mini marshmallows, and bake. They were such a huge hit that I almost missed having one at the party! I was knee-deep in an intense game of cornhole and just couldn’t break away. You understand, right? Luckily I had Pablo snag one for me before they were gone.

It was a little time consuming but very easy. If I can make it, you can too!

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So head on over to Edie’s awesome blog Life In Grace and read her whole play-by-play of how to make them. While you’re there, check out her stunning home that’s full of personal style. Her sexy, moody master bedroom and colorful, busy workroom are two of my favorites.  

Happy baking!

XO

Sue at Home

P.S. If you can’t get enough of yummy graham cracker, chocolate, and marshallow treats, try my S’mores Parfaits too! 

smores parfait Collage

Best Chocolate Chip Cookies on Earth

28 Apr

I know that title is quite a claim but people, I’m about to give you a cookie recipe to end all cookie recipes. But first let me introduce you to the creator of the Best Chocolate Chip Cookies on Earth, my favorite chef Tara Bench (instagram: @tarateaspoon). Here she is getting ready to serve some delicious treats to Al Roker on the Today Show.

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She may not be as famous as Ina Garten or Bobby Flay but she’s a celeb chef all right: Tara is the Food and Entertaining Director for Ladies’ Home Journal* and in the 7+ years I’ve worked with her, she’s never made a single thing that I didn’t like. Think about that for a second. Every recipe she produced–whether sweet or savory, difficult or a breeze–has been deeeeelish. And I think I’ve tasted them all! I’m also lucky to call her a friend. (She’s the awesome kind of buddy who answers all of my frantic weekend baking texts when I’m questioning my kitchen skills. Everyone needs a friend like that but no, I’m not giving you her number.)

Tara started her career at Martha Stewart and you can see it in her work; aesthetics are as important as taste. Some of her favorite LHJ recipes are Crispy Ice Cream Bars,  Frozen Blueberry Cheesecake, and Thai Chicken Patties.

But her heart belongs to chocolate chip cookies. They’re her favorite thing to make. And why not when she has perfected the recipe!?

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I’ve been on a quest to make the perfect chocolate cookie for a long time but they’ve never been quite right. They’re either too crunchy or spread too thin or not chocolatey enough. So, I finally decided to try Tara’s personal recipe and It. Is. Perfect. They’re sweet and chocolatey but not too much of either. They’re lightly golden around the edges, just enough to give them a little bit of crunchiness.  But the gooeyness–oh the gooeyness!–is the key to this recipe’s success. That soft texture remains days after they’re baked. ( But wait! There’s more! Tara even makes a gluten free version that pretty amazing, too!)

And here’s the best part: even though this recipe is so close to her heart, she gives it to friends and family all the time and she even kindly agreed to let me share it with you. Right here. Right now. (Told you she’s awesome!)

TARA’S CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

4 cups flour (fluff the flour before scooping) or substitute Gluten Free All Purpose Flour for Gluten Free version (see Gluten Free note below)

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

3 sticks unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups light brown sugar

1 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

2 tsps or 1 tblsp vanilla extract (I go for the full tablespoon when I make them.)

1 package (11.5 oz bag) of milk chocolate chips (I use Ghiradelli and you should to.)

1 package (11.5 oz bag) of semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use Ghiradelli and reduce this amount to a little more than half of the bag.)

Preheat oven to 350. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside. In a separate mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla.  Mix. Add the dry mixture, a little at a time, and mix. Stir in chocolate chips. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. (Eleven minutes works perfectly for my oven but be careful. Tara says “Don’t overcook”!)

Gluten Free note: If you prefer rice flour to Gluten Free all purpose flour, you can use that instead (Tara recommends this one) but be sure to add a scant tbsp xantham gum to hold the cookies together. (A “scant” tbsp means slightly less than full.)

A couple things to remember, the dough is thick! Crazy thick! It’ll look like this when you’re done mixing but don’t worry. That’s how it’s supposed to look.

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Then get ready to work your stiring muscles! No pain, no gain. Right?

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Looking good.

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Make sure your little cookie dough balls are spread out enough or else you’ll have a solid sheet of cookies. (I say that like it would be a bad thing. Ha!)

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When they come out, they look puffy and undercooked.

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But then they deflate a little bit while they’re cooling.

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And you end up with perfect cookie goodness.

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Before you get to baking, I want to urge to follow Tara on Instagram @tarateaspoon. That’s where you’ll get to see her working on her culinary delights…

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…hanging out with hottie chefs, like Curtis Stone…

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…having cookie throwdowns with her friends (I’ll give you one guess which recipe won!)…

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…and rubbing elbows (or tummies!)  with all kinds of food industry celebs.

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And take note of her oft-used hashtag #wwllt which stands for What Work Looks Like Today. I had no idea what it meant but lots of food industry pros seem to like it so it’s a great hashtag to check out for foodie inspiration.

And don’t forget: Your gluten free friends don’t need to be left out! Just replace the flour with Gluten Free all purpose flour for a perfectly delicious cookie treat.

Happy Baking!

XO

Sue at Home

*With deep sadness I need to tell you that while I was writing this post, Ladies’ Home Journal closed its doors and with that, Tara and I (plus another 33 of my friends and coworkers)  lost our jobs.  I’m trying to stay hopeful that this will be a turning point in my career and that I will move on to bigger and better things. (In fact, maybe you’ll even get more Sue at Home!) But I fear that I will never have a job that I love as much as I loved being the Fashion Editor for LHJ. The kindness of the people that I worked with, the collaborative atmosphere, the quality of the work we produced, and the respect that I felt from everyone around me is a rare thing in business and I feel so lucky to have had that. But I’m hopeful for the future and excited to see what it brings.

I’ll keep you posted on the chapter. And please send positive thoughts my way!

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S’mores Parfait

30 Apr

Today I’m here with a quick and easy dessert treat. Recently, I went to a showroom preview at Victoria’s Secret and they had a tray of cake-cups from Bee’s Knees Baking Co in NYC. Looks delish, right?

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Photo via Bee’s Knees Baking Co.

I was struck by how great they all looked – and tasted! – so I wanted to come up with my own version. Bee’s Knees specializes in cake-cups, a layered dessert that’s like a portable cupcake but looks similar to a parfait or trifle. I’m going the parfait (sans cake) option for mine.

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This recipe couldn’t have been more simple. I started out with a box mix for chocolate mousse, a tub of Marshmallow Fluff, and a pre-made graham cracker crust.

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After I made the mousse by the box’s directions, I crushed the crust to make it into a crumble. (I know I could have put graham crackers in the food processor but I figured the crust would have more of a buttery flavor. Lucky me — I was right!)

smores-128Then I was ready to start my layers.

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First graham cracker crumble…

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…then chocolate mousse…

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…then Fluff.

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I didn’t like how blobby it was going to into the cup so on the next layers, I piped the mouse in with a DIY piping bag.

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Much better!

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After a few layers, I added a little more graham cracker on top and they were ready to serve. (I actually covered them with plastic wrap and put them in the fridge.)

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They were delish but when I make them again, I will definitely lower the amount of Fluff. (I used a whole jar in only 6 parfaits!) It was a little overly sweet but with a little less Fluff, they would be perfect.

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Check out these other sweet treats from Sue at Home:

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies With Cream Cheese Filling

Edible Glitter Birthday Cake

I’m a Published Writer: My Mom’s Fruitcake Recipe

Rainbow Cake: If I Can Make It, You Can Too

Oh, and I’m linking up to 33 Shades Of Green‘s Tasty Tuesday Link Party. Click over to check out the other links!

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XO 

Sue at Home

smores parfait Collage

Edible Glitter Birthday Cake

25 Mar

This is the last post in the Glamtastic Birthday Party series. (Booo!) You got see the invitation, check out the details of the whole party, see a how-to about Sophia’s custom favors, and you even had a peek into the DIY photo booth. And now…the cake!

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The inspiration came from this post on P.S. I Made This:

I couldn’t find the exact mold she used but I got one that was pretty similar. My visit to NY Cake to pick it up resulted in finding silver, blue, and pink Disco Dust, too!

My first attempt was a total bust but you know I’m going to show you that version, too. As long as you don’t make my dumb mistakes, it’s pretty simple to do. First, just use a new, dry paintbrush and “paint” the edible glitter into the silicone mold.

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If you’ve ever tried to wash and dry anything silicone, you won’t be surprised to see how the disco dust just sticks to the sides.

birthday-cake-103Next, I melted the chocolate (don’t forget to do it in a double boiler!) and scooped spoonfuls of the melted chocolate into the mold which should be sitting on a cookie sheet. Next, tap the cookie sheet to get any bubbles out and then place the whole tray in the freezer for about 10 minutes. Once cool, you can pop the chocolates right out. Now, let’s look at my failed first attempt and discuss what went wrong.

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Um, no. First of all, the pink disco dust sucks. It’s just not as bright as the silver or the blue so I kicked it to the curb on round two. Second, milk chocolate is yummier than white but alas, it looked all mucky and brown so I switched to white. Third, remember how I said you have to tap it to get the bubbles out? Well, I’m glad you remembered because I didn’t. Oops. And last, I filled the mold waaaaay too much. You only need to fill it about 3/4 full otherwise you end up with a lot of overflow and that just makes for a lumpy bottom once you take them out. And no one wants a lumpy bottom, right?

Second attempt: let’s watch and see how it goes…

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Glittery success!

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As for the cake, I went with a simple tiered design and I placed the chocolates around each layer. I was originally going to make the bottom two layers with 2 cakes each but I decided against it when I saw how big it was getting already. The cake itself was from a box (no apologies–cake from a box is easy and delicious) but my frosting is homemade buttercream. I just use the recipe on the side of the Domino powdered sugar box. (Ain’t broken. No fixing needed.) Someday I’ll take the time to do a crumb coat on my cakes since the crumbs on this one drove me crazy. And it kinda bugs me that the chocolates are a little too big for the cake. But overall, I think it came of great. And I totally lucked out that the #8 candle at Target just happened to be glittery blue!

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I always get myself in such a tizzy making sure every last detail is perfect for my girls’ birthday parties but when I see the beaming smile on their faces when their friends are singing Happy Birthday to them, it’s all worth it.

birthday-cake-281Happy Birthday Sophia!

Now, onto the next: Pablo turns 40 in May and Lily turns 5 in June. It’s going to be a very busy spring!

XO

Sue at Home

How to Throw a Glamtastic Kids’ Party

18 Mar

Since Sophia was turning 8 going on 18, we knew that a very glam party was going to be the way to go. And doing it at home was a natural solution for a couple reasons. 1) I get to do lots of crafty things that allow me to make it super personal for Sophia and I’m not gonna lie, I actually like all the projects. (Ok…I’ll admit it. I also love the control that doing them gives me!)  2) And it was much, much, much, much, much, much cheaper than having it at a place that throws parties. (I mean, I love my kids but $600-$1000 for an hour and a half of her life? Um…no.)

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Sure, it takes a lot of work but it was worth it to see her so happy. Let’s go over the eleven elements you need to throw an at-home glamtastic party of your own.

1. The Invitations – As I mentioned before in this post, I created a custom design on Picmonkey and printed them at home. A couple self-adhesive jewels finished them off.

Sophia's invitation 4 edit

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2. The DIY Photo Booth – Taking a picture every 10 seconds kept the girls engaged–and gave them just enough time to make a quick accessory change before the next shot. (A follow-up post is forthcoming with everything you need to know to create your own.)

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3. The Favor – Custom and unique all the way! Each girl got a pin with her initial in a special keepsake box. (A post with more details is coming soon!)

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4. The Manicure Station – A glamtastic party wouldn’t be complete without a little pampering! I hired a babysitter/friend of ours and some of her friends to man this station. Other than the hired help, this was free! We had everything on hand.

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5. The Makeup Station – The hired help came in handy here, too. I got Q-tips Precision Tips and cotton balls to keep it all sanitary and we kept the choices to a minimum. (Pablo mentioned that the girls looked like they didn’t have any makeup on so I consider that a huge success!) Oh…and did I mention the insane metallic tablecloth from Oriental Trading? Isn’t it amazing? (Note: There’s a silver one and a gold one but the gold one is actually gold on one side and silver on the other. It’s basically a big sheet of mylar. I’m dying to use it for a craft project but I’m not sure what. Ideas?)

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6. The Beading Station – This was an 11th hour addition by Sophia (cause she’s smart like that) and as you can see, it was literally a bowl of beads, some strings and scissors. Of course, it was a huge hit and the kids probably spent more time at this station than any of the others.

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7. The Fashion Show – This was completely unplanned but apparently Sophia can’t have a birthday party without having a fashion show in the middle of it. Pablo announced all the models in his best announcer voice and after watching most of the 7- and 8-year-olds “walk the runway”, 4-year-old Lily came stridding out like she had been taking lessons from Naomi Campbell. I mean, it’s quite obvious this girl has been “playing fashion show” for years!

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8. Dance Party – There was dancing of every kind at this soiree. The kind where you dance in the circle and the birthday girl gets down in the middle. (Yup. That’s Soph rocking out after a wardrobe change.) Freeze dance where the birthday girl controls the music. (I guess that need-for-control gene is hereditary.) And there was even an American Idol-type judging panel dance section, only much nicer. (Everyone got a ticket to Hollywood.)

Here’s a little piece of advice for you: Don’t spend a week making the perfect party mix to play on shuffle because you’ll just end up DJing anyway when they ask you to play Gangnam Style and Girl on Fire and Taylor Swift and  Thrift Shop and One Direction and…

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9. The Cake – I love the chance to whip up some sugary goodness so I created a basic but dramatic design. It was a tiered cake with buttercream frosting and accents of white chocolates covered in edible glitter. (There will be a follow-up post with all the details about how I made the glittered chocolates. Stay tuned!)

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10.  The Good Friends – No Glamtastic Party is complete without them!

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11. The Super Cool Birthday Girl – Sorry, you’re gonna have to get your own. This one is all mine!

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Happy Birthday Sophia!

XO

Mom Sue at Home

I’m a Published Writer!

7 Jan

OK, I know that my day job as Fashion Editor for Ladies’ Home Journal means I’m already a published writer but I still think of myself as more of an editor-of-clothes than an editor-of-words. There have only been a few times over the years when I’ve had an opportunity to write more than a sentence or two. So, when a short essay I wrote was selected for LHJ’s food feature The Story Behind the Recipe, I was thrilled. It felt like the boost of confidence that I really needed with my writing but more importantly, I was getting my mom’s famous fruitcake recipe printed in a national magazine with a huge readership. And the best part of all? I was able to tell the world about how awesome it was to learn to bake from my mom and how–contrary to popular fruitcake folklore–this stuff is actually delicious. As I wrote in the story, it doesn’t have any of those “plasticy red and green things”.

For the full Story Behind the Recipe of my mom’s delicious “spice cake”, click the link  below to see it on lhj.com (or run out and grab the December issue while it’s still on newsstands for another day or two): Just Don’t Call it A Fruitcake! The Best Spice Cake Recipe

To see where fruitcakes gets it’s bad reputation, check out this Shirley Jean one that I spotted in my local ShopRite just before Christmas. I mean, what is it with those melted red candles on the box? Is that where they get those red chunks they put in the cake? Yikes! (Note the weight. It’s 3 pounds!)

Interestingly enough, a quick Google search of Shirley Jean showed me that they used to sell the fruitcakes in pretty tins that are available all over ebay and Etsy. Maybe that’s why everyone bought them? (Click images for purchase info. Shirley Jean Fruitcakes not included. Thank god.)

Images from (1)Vintage Possessions and (2) FoxyRoxysAttic.

Here’s my mom’s updated fruitcake recipe. My promise to you: Candace Ann kicks Shirley Jean’s ass.

Don’t-Call-it-a-Fruitcake Spice Cake

Work: 15 min

Total: 2 hr

2 cups water

2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups chopped dates

1 cup chopped raisins

1/2 cup chopped dried apricots

5 tbsp shortening

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans.
  2. In a 3-qt saucepan combine water, sugar, dates, raisins and apricots. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, 20 min. Remove fruit mixture from heat and stir in shortening; let cool, about 30 min.
  3. In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda and salt. Stir in cooled fruit mixture and walnuts.
  4. Divide batter between the prepared pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 1/2 hr. When cake is cool, cut into slices or wrap in foil for up to 1 week. Makes 2 loaves.

—–

If you’d like to submit a Story Behind the Recipe to LHJ, email it to recipestory@lhj.com and say Sue at Home sent you! If it’s selected, your recipe will have the honor of being in the pages of a national magazine that’s seen by more than 10 million people (yowza!) AND you’ll be paid $400! Wait a minute. I guess editors from other departments aren’t eligible for the pay out! But you are, so write that story now.

My girls love to bake with their “Mimi”. I don’t have any pictures of them making the fruitcake with her but I’ll leave you with some particularly adorable shots of these little peasant girls making a birthday cake for my dad last summer.

baking with mimi

XO

Sue at Home

Top Posts of 2012

28 Dec

As we come to the end of 2012, let’s take a look back at my top 5 posts of the year. Now, these aren’t my top posts but yours. The ones that you, my readers, have clicked on more than anything else.

#5

I Have a Hot Pink Chair!

a.k.a. The post where I tell you how I finally dyed a slipcover I already had, despite my debilitating fear of RIT dye, to make the hot pink chair of my dreams.

What I learned from this post making the top 5: You like hot pink as much as I do! And you like DIY projects, too.

chair 068

#4

Lily’s Rainbow Birthday Party

a.k.a. The post where I gave all the details of Lily’s colorful 4th birthday party.

What I learned from this post making the top 5: Good kid’s parties are appealing even if you don’t have kids. Or…”rainbow party” is a very powerful search term. Yeah, it’s probably that.

Rainbow-birthday-party-2

#3

Rainbow Cake: If I Can Make It You Can Too

a.k.a. The cake that’ll impress with one simple secret weapon (shhh…it’s food coloring).

What I learned from this post making the top 5: It seems like you really, really like rainbow cakes and rainbow parties but I know the truth of this post’s success. It’s the secret weapon in the pic below. Some of the top searches that brought you to Sue at Home are: Aqua Sky Kitchenaid Mixer, Kitchenaid Aqua Sky, Kitchenaid Stand Mixer Aqua Sky, Kitchenaid Aqua Sky Mixer…you get the point. Looking back at this picture, I can see how bad it is and I promise that I’ll write a nice big post all about my glorious mixer soon with lots of beautiful glamour shots! (FYI: I got mine from here.)

mixer

#2

DIY: Lengthening our Master Bedroom Curtains

a.k.a. How a trip to the tailor (don’t-think-I’m-fancy-it’s-just-my-dry-cleaner) helped me make cheap too-short curtains into floor-to-ceiling stunners.

What I learned from this post making the top 5: I get it, you really like DIY. I promise more in the new year.

curtain pinterest

#1

And the number one most-clicked on post was….

Pin of the Week: Dressing Up Your Stairs

a.k.a. The one where I talked about painting, carpeting, and just about anything to do with stairs.

What I learned from this post making the top 5: Who knew you were so obsessed with your stairs? The only search term that topped variations on the Kitchenaid Mixer search was “painted stairs”. I hope this post gave you lots of good inspiration. I’ve yet to do anything fun with my stairs but hopefully I’ll get on it soon.

girls on steps

So,  what can you expect from Sue at Home in 2013? I’m thinking more DIY, monthly posts about my mixer, and possibly a new feature… Stairs of the Week?

XO

Sue at Home

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Filling

19 Nov

In the latest installment of If I Can Make It, You Can Too, I’m bringing you one of my favorite baked treats: Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Filling. I’ve made this recipe a few times and it is a major crowd pleaser. (I think it would be a nice addition to all the pies traditionally served at Thanksgiving.) Personally, I’ve never met a cream cheese frosting I didn’t want to marry and this is one of my favorite ways to use it. The recipe comes from Martha Stewart via Baked bakery and you can find the full recipe here. I didn’t change the recipe at all — though I would like to mention that Martha’s recipe says it makes 12 whoopie pies and unless they’re the size of your head, that is waaaay off. Last year, I made them silver-dollar bite-size and the recipe made about 50 of them. This time, they were a little smaller than the diameter of a baseball and the recipe made about 25 one-and-you’re-done-size whoopie pies.

First you mix the dry stuff:  flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, and ground cloves. Isn’t it pretty? Make sure you sift it all together.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil and brown sugar.  Anything that calls for this much brown sugar is a good recipe in my book.

Next, mix in the pumpkin puree. Then the eggs and vanilla. Once you’ve whisked everything together, your two bowls (dry and wet) should look something like this.

Then — adding a little bit at a time — mix the dry mixture into the wet mixture.

I’ve piped them onto the parchment-lined baking sheet before but this time I just scooped up a tablespoon of dough and dolloped them on. (That’s right. Dolloped. Didn’t know you could use as it as a verb, huh?)

The baking sheet on the left shows them cooked and the one on the right shows them raw. You can see that they don’t spread very much so go ahead and put them closer together than I did. #doasIsaynotasIdo (Remember, for 25 whoopie pies, you’ll need 50 little cookie/cakes so fit as many as you can on each baking sheet.)

Here’s what the little babies should look like when they’re fulled baked. Watch out for the those “I’m done” cracks.

Once they’re cool, you can get to the filling. (In fact, you can bake them the day before you fill them and just store them in the fridge overnight.) Mix your softened cream cheese and butter with confectioner’s sugar and vanilla for a filling so delish, it brings tears to my eyes. Instead of a piping bag, I just stuff it into a ziplock bag and snip the tip. Make sure you fold the top of the bag down before filling it, so that you don’t get frosting all over the opening.

Then just lay out half of the pumpkin cookie/cakes and pipe on some ample frosting onto each one.

Next, just put the tops on and you’re done. Make sure you refrigerate them if you’re not serving them right away. (That goes for all cream cheese frostings or fillings.) If you weren’t paying attention above, here’s that link for the full recipe again: Martha Stewart’s Pumpkin Whoopie Pie recipe.

I promise, you will not be disappointed!

So, tell me…is it a cookie or a cake? It’s certainly not a pie, despite it’s name. And it definitely has a cake-like consistency to it. But it’s hand held, like a cookie. (Plus, it’s a cookie on my World’s Biggest Cookie Swap Pinterest Board.) So…is it a cookie or cake? Let me know what you think in the comments.

Enjoy!  And have a delicious Thanksgiving!

XO

Sue at Home

P.S. For more If I Can Make It, You Can Too recipes, check these out.

Seafood Paella and a Crazy Easy Cake

Rainbow Cake

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