Tuesday, June 23

I'm taking a break from vacation hibernation to show you our trip to the smallest winery in America!

Adam and I spent this past weekend in the North Carolina mountains visiting my parents. Whenever we visit I love to go check out this cute local winery. So Saturday morning after Mom treated me to a hair cut at her favorite salon in town we went out to lunch and then stopped at Calaboose Cellars to do a wine tasting.

Look at the tiny building, this used to serve as a jail for the town. They've extended the jailhouse theme and given their wines some really fun names like Jail Bird Blueberry, Sweet Freedom and Up the River Strawberry Rhubarb.

After we sampled a few different wines and bought a couple of bottles to enjoy later, we headed outside to have a glass of wine on the deck. The deck has a pretty view of the tiny vineyard. Cheese and cracker snacks are set out to nibble on while you enjoy your drinks and you even get to keep your Cabaloose Cellars wine glass!

Check out our loot and you can see Mom and Dad's pretty mountain view! Wardin's White is my favorite!

Here's a not-so-great cell phone photo of Adam and I at Fires Creek on Father's Day. My posting will be a little sporadic for the next week or so. I'm still in the mountains and after we leave here we're headed to the Florida Keys! I'll keep you updated!

Wednesday, June 17

Great Find at Costco!

See my adorable new ceramic garden stool? I think it's going to look perfect next to the white rocking chair in my living room, it's the perfect size to be a small side table. These garden stools sell for 130$ or more at some online retailers. But I found mine at Costco for just 33$ ! It was such a good deal I went back and picked up the display model in a gorgeous dark brown color. We'll be bringing that one to Mom and Dad's cabin when we go to visit, it'll look great on her deck or inside with all her pretty new furniture. Costco also carried the stools in light blue and a cool yellow color! If you don't have a Costco membership I saw Sherry from This Young House write about a similair stool she found at HomeGoods for the same price.

Tuesday, June 16

Pineapple Mojito Jello Shots!

If it's possible to make jello shots classy, this recipe pulls it off. Now if only I had served them in cordial glasses instead of plastic cups...
What you need:
10-12 plastic shot glasses
1 can of pineapple tidbits
12 fresh mint leaves
3 tablespoons pineapple juice
3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
1 package of pineapple jello
1 package of lime jello
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 cup of boiling water
1/4 cup of light rum ( You know I used more than that! You can add up to 1/2 cup - 1 cup)

Line up your shot glasses and place 2-4 pineapple tidbits in the bottom of each glass. Bruise the mint leaves in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add the lime juice, pineapple juice and shake the 2 together. In a medium bowl combine the lime and pineapple gelatins, and the sugar. Stir in the boiling water and whisk until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the rum and pour into the plastic shot glasses. Refrigerate until set, about 3 hours. Enjoy!

This super fun, tasty and adorable recipe was found on Food Network's website. Courtesy of Ingrid Hoffman.

Monday, June 15

My First Fondant Cake!

I put this graduation cake together for the neighbor's middle school age daughter. This was my first time working with fondant, my classes haven't started yet but I did watch my Flawless Fondant DVD and I used some tips and the homemade marshmallow fondant recipe I found here. It was really pretty easy but very time consuming! I think the process will be much faster next time since I'll have a pretty good idea of what I'm doing.

Inspiration for the design of this cake was found at CakeCentral.com!

I was happy to have my big blue silicone mat. It made rolling out the fondant and covering the cake a little easier. Covering the cake with fondant was the trickiest part for me, I had Adam help me lift the blue mat and drop the fondant on, he did great!

Friday, June 12

Wilton Course 2 Finale!

Apparently it's cake week here at the Tipsy Hostess Blog because I've got another cake coming at you after this post. This post is much overdue but I wanted to share my Course 2 cake with everyone. Loved how it turned out! There was one teeny mishap, the front of my cake should have been the back. See my basketweave seam right up the middle? Gah, I was gabbing away in class and didn't pay any attention oh well...

Course 2 is called Flowers and Borders. We learned how to make the violet, apple blossom, victorian rose, daffodil, pansy, daisy, primrose and the chrsysanthemum. We also worked with colorflow and made cute little bluebirds but I didn't add them to my cake.

A little something I learned in class: If you have bags full of royal icing but you're tired of making flowers for the day, you can put the bags, tip down in a cup with a little water and tie off the back of the bag with a clothespin. This will keep your fast-drying royal icing from hardening until you're ready to get back to work. I kept mine like that for several days, just change the water frequently. Don't put the cups in the fridge!

And the flawless BACK of the cake :o) Oh well. See that anti-slip rubber mat there at the bottom? Yeah, highly suggest that you pick up some of that for toting your cakes to and from class. It will make the drive much less stressful! You can find a roll with the rest of the kitchen cabinet liners at Target.

The fun news is I'm officially signed up for Course 3! They weren't offering my class this month so I start July 9th as soon as we get back from vacay!

Here's what the sheet says you need to bring to class for Course 3:

• Pen or Pencil with note pad
• Transparent Tape
• Scissors
• Damp cloth or sponge
• Toothpicks
• Practice Board Set (from Course 1)
• Wax Paper
• Decorator Brushes
• Pink or Rose Icing Colors
• Parchment Triangles
• 2 Couplers
• 2 Featherweight Decorating Bags
• Small Spatula (straight or angled)
• Tips 3, 16, and 104 (from Course 1) and Tips 1, 2, and 5 (from Course 2)
• 1 24 oz box of Rolled Fondant
• 3 small plastic food storage bags
• white vegetable shortening
• measuring spoons

Course III Kit or equivalent (includes the following)

Tips 18, 68, 86, 127, 352
1-5/8" Lily Nail for decorating deeply-cupped flowers
5 rose bouquet fondant cutters (large and small blossoms, rose leaf,
calyx/sepal and forget-me-not)
Ball and veiner modeling tool for shaping petals and veining leaves
Thick and thin foam squares for easier modeling
Gum Tex Pouch helps make rolled fondant easier to shape
Decorating brush
White cake sparkles
Yellow Stamens
Cake Dividing Wheel
7 inch Bakers Best Pillars (4) and a 8 inch Bakers Best Plate;

Course 1 Class Buttercream Icing Recipe (I'll post below)

4 airtight containers, holding 1 recipe (3 cups total)
• 1/2 cup THIN consistency icing
• 1 1/2 cups MEDIUM consistency icing
• 1/2 cup MEDIUM consistency icing, with 1/4 tsp piping gel added
• 1/2 cup STIFF consistency icing

Wilton Class Buttercream:

1 lb sifted confectioners' sugar (approx. 4 cups)
1 tablespoon Meringue Powder
1 cup solid vegetable shortening
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon Clear Vanilla
Optional - 1 teaspoon Butter Extract, pinch of salt

Combine sugar and meringue powder in large bowl, set aside. Cream shortening, flavorings, and water. Gradually add dry sifted ingredients to creamed mixture. Mix thoroughly on medium speed. Blend an additional minute until creamy.

Monday, June 8

Easy Cake for Aspiring Cake Decorators!

I saw this fun cake at Paige's Pantry, I love her cakes! After browsing her blog I realized I had already saved at least 3 of her photos in my favorites on CakeCentral.com

This cake looks impressive but it's really simple. Bake any 2 layer, 8 inch round cake. Use a box mix or a favorite recipe. Frost with homemade buttercream, or store bought frosting. Buy a stack of full size Kit Kat bars, I think I used about 13 bars, each pack had 4 pieces inside. I broke them into sections of twos. Pour a large bag of M&Ms on top, save about 2 handfuls to scatter around the base of your cake. Tie a ribbon around the center of the cake and you're done!

I made this for a little Memorial Day party at our house. I love that you can change the ribbon to coordinate with any theme. My only regret for this cake is I couldn't find a bag of red, white and blue m&ms. Maybe I'll have more luck as it gets closer to the 4th of July.

Sunday, June 7

So Simple Thai Lettuce Wraps!

As much as I love my crock pot, I have not had much luck finding a tasty Thai recipe. I've tried a few and they are usually a huge FAIL. But this recipe turned out so well, it doesn't taste like a typical crock pot recipe either. It's a definite keeper!

This recipe was found on a WW blog, Chews Wisely.
Check out her blog, it's full of healthy and filling recipes like this one!

What you'll need:
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, frozen
1 1/2 cups of Thai Coconut Curry Chicken Broth (optional, this is my addition, it's pictured below)
1 cup hot salsa
1/4 cup reduced fat peanut butter
1 tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice
3 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
Fresh cilantro
2 cups of rice
1 tablespoon of curry
2 teaspoons of coconut extract
4-8 leaves of lettuce for wraps

Spray the crock pot with cooking spray and add chicken. In a separate bowl, mix together chicken broth,salsa, peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, ginger and jalapeno. Pour over chicken. Mix up a bit so sauce is distributed throughout the crock pot. Cook on low 6-8 hours.

After this I followed the suggestion on the Chews Wisely blog and threw some rice in my rice cooker for a side dish. Quick side story: My mom lives in the NC mountains for a few months out of the year, she lives in a small town and there are limited grocey store options so she's been missing her Coconut Curry Chicken Broth, she's been making her rice by adding curry and coconut extract and she's been telling me to try it. So I thought this recipe would be a good chance to give that tip a try and it worked well! This only works if you cook your rice in a rice cooker or a microwave steamer.

My husband and I are obsessed with lettuce wraps so I followed that suggestion as well. Just layer your steamed curry rice, your shredded chicken, and your fresh Cilantro inside a couple of lettuce leaves and you're set!

Here's the Infamous Thai Chicken Broth so you know what to look for. I buy minimum 4 at a time, it's got a great flavor. Florida girls, you can find it at Publix! Here in NC I buy it from Harris Teeter :o( Booooo we miss Publix!!

Saturday, June 6

Best. Appetizer. Ever.

Behold the Mango Chutney Cheese Ball!

I'm not toying with you, this may not have photographed spectacularly but it tastes incredible. Back away from the box of Knorr Vegatable Soup Mix, do not serve your guests another bread boule of spinach dip! This is just as easy and tasty. I think it's my official new go-to appetizer and that says a lot, because I don't like go-to recipes I prefer to try new things. Oh yeah, and I ususally think cheese balls are lame.

Aren't these little appetizer knives cute? My Partner in Crime Tina bought me a whole set of pretty beaded spreaders from Pottery Barn after she saw me drooling over them. So sweet! And the one in the background has a margarita on the end, strangely enough I also bought that one while I was with PIC Tina.

What you need:
  • 2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 package cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 (9 ounce) jar mango chutney, the brand I used is Kerala Curry and I went for the HOT stuff. I found it at Harris Teeter.
In a medium bowl, stir together the cream cheese, raisins, bacon, green onions and sour cream. Form into a ball, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight before serving. When you're ready to serve, you can divide into two balls like I did to fit better on my serving dish. Pour the mango chutney over cheese balls. Surround with bagel chips, I went to Trader Joe's and stocked up on 3 boxes of funky different crackers. We went through every single box at our get together.

Friday, June 5

It's Almost Time For Summer Vacation!

Our summer plans are shaping up!  My husband and I have gone back and forth on where we want to go this year.  We were looking for somewhere that was relatively close by, where we could relax on a beach and get our tropical fix in and do some exploring too.  Sooo Key West it is!  We have reservations at the gorgeous, historic Casa Marina!

This hotel is one of the few places in Key West with a beach. It's a little bit of a hike to Duval Street but that just means we can feel less guilty about all the yummy food we'll be eating.  

But I think the part I'm most excited about is our dinner at Latitudes!  This restaurant is so neat, it's on a private island just off Key West so you take their ferry over.  They have tables on the beach and at night they light tons of tiki torches.  Sounds cool, right?   

We're also going to do an uber cheesy ghost tour.  Key West has some great ghost stories, I've wanted to do the tour here for years!  I do most of my trip research by reading reviews on Trip Advisor and Yelp.  I love to look at the pictures other people have uploaded from their trip, it gives you a much more realistic idea of what to expect from a hotel or restaurant.  

Don't worry about the Naughty Yorkies, they will be well taken care of while we're gone! We'll be stopping by my parent's house in the mountains at the start of our trip to visit with Mom and Dad.  My parents are sweet enough to watch the babes while we're in Florida.  It's like yorkie summer camp!  

Thursday, June 4

WW Fajita Salad with Salsa Vinaigrette

Well this WW recipe makes 4 servings and it would have been 5 points, but I threw some shredded cheddar on top to appease my spoiled husband.   It's a really quick and simple dinner, great for the middle of the week. And I love the Salsa Vinaigrette, I could put it on every salad for the rest of my life and be happy.  

You will need:
1/2 cup of prepared salsa
1/4 cup chopped red onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon Cajun Seasoning
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 cups mixed salad greens
1 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 advocado, peeled and chopped

1. To make the vinaigrette, puree the salsa, onion, cilantro, lime juice, vinegar, mustard, and salt in a food processor.  Transfer the vinaigrette to a bowl and set aside.  

2.   Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with the Cajun seasoning.  Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Swirl in the oil, then add the chicken and cook until lightly browned and just cooked through, about 4 minutes on each side.  Transfer the chicken to a cutting board.  Let stand for 5 minutes, then slice into 1/2 inch strips.  

3.  Place the salad greens and bell peppers in a large bowl.  Top with the chicken strips, tomato and advocado.  Serve with the Salsa Vinaigrette.  

Wednesday, June 3

Absolutely Amazing Pina Colada Cupcakes!

While they're still warm from the oven, these cupcakes are drizzled with a rum syrup! The frosting is a homemade coconut buttercream. 

This recipe was adapted from the Cake Doctor Cookbook and converted to work for cupcakes.  I looooove love this cookbook!

Ingredients for cupcakes and syrup:

Cupcake liners
1 can (15 ounces) cream of coconut
1 package (18.25 ounces) plain yellow cake mix
1 package (3.4 ounces) vanilla instant pudding mix
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons light rum
1/3 cup vegatable oil
4 large eggs
1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple packed in juice, drained
1 cup of flaked sweet coconut

1.  Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350.  Place your cupcake liners in your muffin tin and set aside.

2.  Stir the cream of coconut, then pour 1/2 cup into a liquid measuring cup and reserve the remaining 1 cup for the syrup.  

3.  Place the cake mix, pudding mix, 1/2 cup of cream of coconut, 1/2 cup of rum, 1/3 cup of oil and eggs in a large mixing bowl.  Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute.  Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes more, scraping the sides down again if needed.  The batter should look thick and smooth.  Fold in the crushed pineapple until it is well distributed throughout the batter.  Pour the batter into the into the cupcake liners, smoothing it out with the rubber spatula.  Place the pan in the preheated oven.

4.  Bake the cupcakes until they spring back when lightly pressed with your finger.  About 18-22 minutes.  Remove them from the oven and place them on a wire rack to cool.  

5.  Prepare the rum syrup.  Place the reserved 1 cup of cream of coconut and the remaining two tablespoons rum in a small mixing bowl.  Stir until well combined.

6.  While the cupcakes are still warm, poke a few large holes and lots of small ones into the top of each cupcake with a toothpick.  Spoon the rum syrup over the top, allowing it to seep into the holes.  Continue to let cupcakes cool for another 30 minutes at least before frosting.    If your cupcakes become sticky on the sides because of the messy syrup, you can set them in an additional cupcake liner.  

To make the Coconut Buttercream you can follow the Wilton recipe that I shared here.  Just replace the Vanilla Extract with Coconut Extract...or you could try Rum Extract!  Yum!

This was actually supposed to be a chance for me to try out my new airbrush gun, but I didn't buy the spray on color soon enough.  So to decorate your Pina Colada cupcakes like I did, first ice the top half with a skyblue.   Place in the fridge for 5-15 minutes until you are able to smooth out any lumps and bumps by lightly placing a paper towel on top and smoothing with your fingers.  

After your sky is smooth, you can "casually" ice the sand onto your beach.  Let it be a little haphazard to give your sand some texture.  Now it's time to pipe on your palm trees!  I used a star tip (16, 18, 21, any of those should work)  for the base of my palms and tip 67 for the tops of the palms.  I made the hibiscus ahead of time out of royal icing, but you could pipe it directly on your cupcake with tip 101.

I packed this bunch up and dropped it off at a neighbor's house.   It was the perfect way to invite our friends over for a Memorial Day cookout!  Who can say no when you show up at the door with cupcakes?!

Tuesday, June 2

Mango Cilantro Margaritas!  

Now I'll admit these Margaritas sound a little weird, but if you are a cilantro-lover they are worth a try.  The mango gives this drink a really smooth texture and the cilantro gives off a little spicy kick.  It works really well with the Tequila, I could hardly taste the Tequila even though there is a ton of Jose Cuervo in there!  This recipe was originally found on epicurious.com.

The ingredients-
1/2 small mango, pitted, peeled, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup 100% blue agave silver tequila
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons simple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon Cointreau or other orange liqueur
  • 2 cups ice cubes, divided
  • Fresh cilantro sprigs (for garnish)

Combine mango and cilantro leaves in medium bowl. Press firmly on solids with muddler or back of wooden spoon until mashed. Mix in tequila, lime juice, simple syrup , and Cointreau, then 1 cup ice. Stir to blend well. Strain into large glass measuring cup. Divide remaining ice between 2 tall glasses. Pour Margarita mixture over. Garnish with cilantro sprigs.  

You can also throw this recipe into the blender for an even yummier treat!  

Here's a little something new I wanted to try, I picked up an assortment of jello at the store in all different colors.  You can even use the sugar-free kind to cut calories.   Now you have rimming sugar to coordinate with any drink.  I thought the lime green would work best with these margaritas:
 Just swipe your glass with a lime....

 Put your jello flavor of choice into a shallow bowl, and spin the rim of your glass around until you have plenty of jello on the edges. 

Add your margaritas and enjoy!