Sub Heading

Sub Heading

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Perfect for a Holiday Weekend: Home Made Ice Cream Cones!

The following blog post was written by guest blogger, Sarah!  Sarah is a cousin of mine who hails from St. Louis, MO.  She has the crafty family gene and has been blowing me away lately with what she has been ccoming up with in the kitchen.  With no further ado...


Now that our cable company has added the Cooking Channel to our lineup, I can't get enough of Chuck Hughes from Chuck's Day Off. He spends each episode cooking food for his family (like his mother who makes the desserts found on his menu), friends (his tattoo artist), and staff (the bouncers at his Montreal restaurant). During a recent episode, Chuck made ice cream cones for his personal trainer and topped each one with a scoop of Ben & Jerry's ice cream.

I wrote down each step as I watched (his steps are very easy to follow---it helps that he's incredibly down to earth and attractive!), but before I attempted the recipe, I checked my notes with the recipe on his site. Here is his website:

Here is the recipe:

What I discovered after comparing my notes to the site is that his directions are slightly different. The directions (and some of my self-discoveries) will help anyone who is interested in making ice cream cones or bowls!

So here's my version of the recipe with hints and suggestions!

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled (It's especially important to give the butter time to cool so it doesn't cook the egg whites.)
2 large or 3 medium egg whites
7 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used 3/4 teaspoon for extra flavor.)
pinch table salt
2/3 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Melt the butter and cool it.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the egg whites, sugar and vanilla. Stir in the salt and half of the flour, then mix in the melted butter. Beat in the rest of the flour until smooth.

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray (I used canola oil spray) and then line the baking sheet with parchment. The cooking spray holds the parchment in place!

Use the back of a big spoon to spread 2 level tablespoons of the batter into a circle 6 inches across. I filled about 3/4 of the spoon with batter, made two dollops on the baking sheet, and then used the back of the spoon to make two disks. I found that 7-inch disks worked much better than 6 inch disks. Try to get the circles as even and smooth as possible. The batter will yield about 6 cones/disks, but you can only make 2 at a time.

Put the baking sheet in the oven, and begin checking the cones after 8 minutes. They take between 8 and 15 minutes to bake. Chuck says the circles should be golden brown throughout, but I found that the disks that I allowed to turn golden throughout were not pliable. Instead, allow the disks to turn golden brown or brown around the edges (the inside looks creamy white) and then remove them from the oven.

Once you remove the baking sheet from the oven, you need to work quickly! Use a thin metal spatula (metal is absolutely necessary!) to loosen the disks from the baking sheet. Quickly flip over the disks and shape them. The dough hardens within seconds and is incredibly hot to the touch. I put a thin kitchen towel (like a flour sack) inbetween my fingers and the disks when working with them.

To make cones:

To shape the disks into cones you will need a cone form. Here are two products I found online:

Press the seam firmly on the counter to close the cone and pinch the point at the bottom securely closed. You can use a spoon to press the opening closed. Let the cone cool slightly on the mold until it feels firm, then slide it off and stand it upright in a tall glass to cool.

Chuck created his own cone holder out of wood, but you can purchase them online. Here is a cute holder that would be perfect for a small get together:

An idea I had to keep extra cones in your pantry for a few a cone in a styrofoam or paper coffee cup...add a lid to seal it tight.

To make bowls:
Since I don't own a cone mold I decided to make cone bowls. My husband and I tried three different "molds," a tall drinking glass, a small cereal bowl, and a small metal mixing bowl. We placed the hot disks on the bottom of the molds. The small mixing bowl worked the best because of the gradual slope and size of the bowl. Helpful tip: While the batter cooks, spray a small amount of cooking spray on the bottom of the bowl so you can remove the bowls easily. Let the bowls cool slightly, then slide them off to cool completely. I stored my extra bowls in a large mixing bowl covered in plastic wrap.

Repeat the recipe, using the remaining batter.

Friday, April 29, 2011

My baby's going on THREE!

This blog started when I discovered my love for party planning as I was planning my daughter's second birthday party.  I feel as if I have come full circle now that I am planning a party for Kira again, this time for her third birthday!

I was waiting for that feeling of inspiration to hit me.  Hoping a great party theme and color scheme would come to me at some time before August 2011.  And, of course it happened, at the most unexpected time.  I was in Target perusing the dollar section items.  I saw a bin of pinwheels, and I began looking through them.  I was thinking a few of them would look cute near the walkway to our home.  Then, I found a pinwheel with a red with white polka dots print and a cheery yellow sun in the middle, and that is when INSPIRATION struck me.  My mind began whirling:  Red and white polka dots, accents of yellow, a summer-time sun theme...

The reason this is perfect: Kira loves the sun.  She talks about the sun coming out when she wakes up in the morning and the sun going away when she goes to bed at night.  She and I sing, "The Sun will Come Out Tomorrow" all the time (she has the Annie movie).  "The sun will come out..." is my phrase to represent this party theme. 

I would have never thought of this idea if it had not been for these pinwheels in Target.

Since that moment, I have taken flight with my ideas for the party.  Besides the darling pinwheels, I have purchased yellow watering cans, buckets, and vases (all from Target dollar section) to serve as serving items and decor on the main food/dessert table.  I have big, round yellow plates (to represent the sun) and red and white polka dot napkins to bring this print into the children's table.  I am imagining bunches of perfectly round yellow balloons, a sun-themed pinata, a sun-themed craft activity.  Background music will incorporate sun-themed songs: The Sun will Come Out Tomorrow, Here Comes the Sun, You are my Sunshine, Don't Let the Sun go Down on Me, Good Day Sunshine, Island in the Sun, Pocket Full of Sunshine, Soak up the Sun, You are the Sunshine of my Life, Let the Sun Shine in, etc.  Who knew there were so many sun songs?!

Here is my inspiration collage for this party:

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Color Inspiration

I was at Crazy 8 today (First time there for me...I love clothing shopping for Kira), and I was INSPIRED!!  They had a collection of clothing in the color palette of navy blue, light blue, fuschia, and light green.  Check out some of the adorable items and the colors:

I am in love!  I CANNOT wait to do a party in this color scheme.  I am definitely considering this for Kira's 3rd birthday (6 months away - a little early, aren't I?!).  What theme might work along with this color palette?  Please comment below with your ideas.

Monday, February 21, 2011

{Monday's Great Find} An New Bakery Business

Monday's Great Find has been revived today!  As I am in the busiest time of year in my day job, I cannot guarantee a regular appearance of Monday's Great Find, but I will keep it returning as time permits!

Today, I would like to introduce a business that is in it's very beginning stages. This is a very special feature to me, because it is my mom's bakery business: A Sweet Deal!!!

A Sweet Deal's creator, my mother Jeanette, is a homemaker extraordinaire, an amazing cook and baker, a cook book author (North Meets South), etc.  It is her dream to start a bakery of her own.  She has recently been taking cake baking and decorating classes in order to move closer to her dream.  A Sweet Deal will begin as a small business offering a variety of cake and cupcake delights in the Bradenton/Sarasota region of FL.  As Jeanette's daughter, I can attest to the perfection of her baked goods!  She is famous amongst our family and friends for her yearly gourmet Christmas cookies assortment (she bakes hundreds every year).  And, I am lucky to be the guinea pig who gets to taste many of the cake and frosting flavors that A Sweet Deal will be offering.  Here are a few photos of recent works of baking art from Jeanette of A Sweet Deal:

Oreo Cookie Cake
(Dark chocolate cake with butter cream icing and Oreo cookie crumbles)

Red Velvet Cupcakes
(with the best cream cheese frosting I have ever tasted!)

Valentine's Cake Pops

Please stay tuned for further information about A Sweet Deal (menu, contact info, website, etc).  If you are interested in ordering something now, you are welcome to make a contact through me or e-mail Jeanette at

Friday, February 4, 2011

An {Under the Sea} Party!

Last weekend, my family and I attended our next door neighbors' son's highly adorable 2nd birthday party.  I knew it was going to be great because Mara is one creative and resourceful mama!

The birthday party theme was based on "Finding Nemo."  The color scheme was a few different shades of blue, orange, and white/clear (e.g., clear balloons).  Being the next door neighbor, I got to see a sneak peek of the set up prior to the start of the party at 3pm.   From the moment my daughter and I woke up the morning of the party, we observed the happenings in their backyard, including the creation of several "activity stations" for the children!  Mara also kindly invited us over to see the indoor decor.  After the preview, Kira and I could barely contain ourselves and talked about going to the party all day!

When it was time to head over to the party, we decided to arrive at their front door.  Normally, because we are such friendly neighbors, we use each other's back sliding doors.  But, this day, I wanted to get the full experience of walking into the party through the front door.

As soon as I walked in, I was immediately struck by Mara's unique ideas!

The entry hallway was lined with blue paper to mimic the sea and to allow the children a fun place to color.

Blue crepe paper streamers were waving from the ceiling.

Blue cellophane (over the windows and doors and draped from the ceiling) added to the ocean-y feel.

Here are a few more of the interior party photos:

Outdoors, the children were able to "fish" at a table with fishing poles and bowls of plastic fish and sea creatures.

They also played at sand tables, collecting sea shells, making sand castles, etc.

The ultimate fun was the "Finding Nemo" themed bounce house, which pleased the children and adults alike.  This was probably Kira's favorite activity.  Of the four hours we were at the party, I would guess she spent about three of those hours in the bounce house.  My wild and crazy girl!  :)

There was, of course, a cute (and yummy) "Finding Nemo" cake.

The children looked adorable sitting around the table, engrossed in devouring their cake slice!

My favorite part of the party was the party favors because they were so different and fun!  Each child took home a fish bag filled with water and two plastic fish bath toys "swimming" within.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Crafty Kind of Day {Part 1}

So, I have had the materials to begin a craft project for Kira's preschool classmates for Valentine's day, and I have been dying to begin crafting.  After Kira's gymnastics class and before heading to a birthday party, I decided to begin my craft project.

What I decided to do is use the red and pink tin mailboxes from Target (dollar section; adorable; they come in white, too) to create a more personalized Valentine's note collector for each of the children.

All of my supplies came from the Dollar General store or the dollar section from Target.  Today, I used foam letters to put each child's name on the mailboxes.

I also used shiny Valentine's stickers to decorate each end of the mailbox.  I have more plans to come for these special treats (so stay tuned), but here is what I have so far:

I cannot wait to finish them!

Oh, and since I had 700+ foam letters and numbers, I decided to make the birthday gift for our party this afternoon more special:

Monday, January 24, 2011

Playing around with Mac Software

I have no idea what I am doing, but I was playing around with free Mac software downloads and stayed up til 2:30am creating this button.  Nothing I am going to use...just having fun!!

Whaddya think?!

Several minutes later: I commented below that I could use this as a button for party professionals I have featured...

Now, whaddya think?!  I think I like it :)