Watercolor Birthday

Hello all! I am back! I took a little time off for the summer for some family travels and a move! We are now semi settled in our new house and I think it’s time to resume to regular posting. I sure do miss my sweet blogging friends! That includes you, yes, you reading this post! Glad you are here!

Yesterday celebrated our daughter’s 10th birthday! Double digits, you guys! To celebrate, we had a watercolor theme birthday bash in our front lawn. We invited 12 of hers and our closest friends. The weather was a perfect 75 degrees, sunny, and breezy. This was pretty much a DIY all the way. We wanted a peach and sea foam green color scheme, but had so much trouble finding those colors, that I had to make pretty much everything myself. I started early on last week so I would not be going crazy at the last minute. One trick to keeping your sanity, is to push to your party to a later part of the day. By having an early afternoon party, I was able to prep and set up (with the help of my D.H. and some  friends) all before guests arrived. Here are some pics of the celebration. Enjoy!

We had a popcorn bar with different kinds of toppings. Who doesn’t love popcorn?

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Pretzel “paint brushes”

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Rice crispy treats “paint brushes”. How clever is this?

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The cake was so fun to make. It was a mud cake with dulce de leche cream filling and vanilla buttercream frosting. I used different shades of buttercream to achieve the “watercolor” look. I also made meringue kisses for the top decorations. How adorable is this?

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Fresh flowers are always a favorite!

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Watercolor marshmallows were another party favorite.

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I made this bunting with paint swatches and the background was a painted sheet. So fun and so pretty!

All in all, we had a great time. Fun was had, yummy goods were eaten, hearts were filled, and memories made. I call that success! 🙂

Hugs,

~Ana

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Sticky Toffee Pudding

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The first time I had sticky toffee pudding was at a tea room in Chattanooga, TN. I had just finished a lovely meal with my friend, Star, at the English Rose downtown and the server recommended it from the menu. I ordered one to share with my daughter, a decision that I regretted almost immediately. One bite in and I was in gastronomical heaven. Wow! the cake was rich, moist, sweet, gooey, delicious. Two bites in and I almost had to fight my daughter to get another bite. So, so good! At that moment, Sticky Toffee Pudding became my number one and most favorite dessert of all time.

As soon as I got home I researched the internet to find the best recipe. Some of the recipes I found were good, but none as delicious as the one I had at the tea room. I had to play around with different recipes until I got the right cake consistency and flavor. I think it took about 3 or 4 times but with every try, the texture and taste improved. I have to warn you though, this cake is highly addictive. I usually make individual cakes because they make a beautiful presentation when served, and also stay moister that way. I can’t say enough great things about this cake. So, If you are ready to have your life changed forever, then keep on reading…

Sticky Toffee Pudding

1 1/2 cups of dates, seedless

1/2 cup, hot boiling water

1 1/2 cups, self rising flour

1 tsp, baking soda, divided

1 tsp, baking powder

2/3 cup, dark brown sugar

6 tbsp, unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 eggs

1 1/2 tsp, vanilla extract

Directions:

 In a bowl, add dates and pour boiling water over them. Add half of the the baking soda (1/2 tsp) and stir to combine. Allow that to sit for about 10 minutes until the dates have soften. While dates are getting soft, preheat the oven to 350º and grease a cupcake/muffin baking tray and set aside. Once dates are soft, use a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

In a separate bowl, add the flour, baking soda (the remaining 1/2 tsp), and baking powder. In another bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until pale in color. Add the eggs, one at a time until well incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and mix together to combine. Add the date mixture, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and mix again until smooth. Using a spatula, gently fold in the flour mixture until all has been incorporated. Be careful not to over mix. The batter should be smooth and thick. Pour into the prepared muffin tin and bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 15-20 minutes, give or take. Allow the cakes to cool for about 5 minutes in the pan before turning them over onto a baking tray or any container with tall sides. Poke holes all over the cakes and pour the toffee sauce. Let them sit in the sauce and reserve some as well for garnish. These cakes last well over a week in the fridge. They also are great make ahead desserts for any tea or dinner party. Serve them warm with custard or vanilla ice cream, and you are in for an adventure! As my daughter would say, “It’s a party in my mouth!” Ha!

Toffee Sauce

1 3/4 cups, dark brown sugar

2 sticks, butter

1/2 cup, heavy cream (or 1/4 milk and 1/4 cream or half and half, which is what I normally use)

a pinch of salt

In a saucepan, on medium heat, combine all the ingredients together and stir. Once all the sugar has melted, allow the sauce to come to a boil and immediately remove from the heat. Pour over the cakes and save some for garnish. This sauce will hold in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

I hope you give this recipe a try. It truly is the best dessert I have ever had. Seriously, nothing beats this pudding…nothing. Oh! guess what’s even better? This is wonderful with a nice cuppa tea. Can life be any better? I think not! Go! Get baking, now!

Enjoy!

~Ana

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Chunky Monkey Banana Bread~Vegan


Tea time for us, is the time of the day in which we take a break from all our duties and sit together as a family. As much as we love tea, and all the yummy treats that go with it, it can get out control with all the sugar in baked goods. At home, I do my best to make most of the baked goods we have for tea. Not only do I enjoy baking, it is also a way to include my daughter in the process and provide a healthier treat. This banana bread is one of my family’s favorite tea time treats. It is moist, delicious, and healthy. It is dairy free and loaded with fiber. What’s not to love?!!!! This can be made into a large loaf or into muffins, for on the go breakfast or snack. I hope you give this a try. Send me a message or a comment and let me know how you liked it.

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Chunky Monkey Banana Bread~ Vegan

1  3/4 cup, All Purpose flour

1  1/2 cup, mashed (over ripe) bananas

1 cup, brown sugar

3/4 cup, vegetable oil (I use coconut oil)

3 Tbsp, chia seeds

9 Tbsp, water

1  1/2 tsp, baking soda

1 tsp, salt

1/4 cup, chopped dates

3 tsp, vanilla extract

2 tsp, cinnamon

1/4 cup coconut flakes (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Heat oven to 350° and line a muffin pan with paper liners, or lightly grease the loaf pan.
  2. In a cup, add the chia seeds and water and mix together. Let it sit for a few minutes until it has bloomed and it is gelatinous. Omit this step and substitute for 3 eggs if you don’t want a vegan product.
  3. In a bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda & salt. Mix well.
  4. In a separate bowl, add the mashed bananas, oil, vanilla, chopped dates, chia seeds mixture, and coconut flakes (if desired). Mix well to combine.
  5. Add the banana mixture to the flour mixture and mix until well combined.
  6. Using an ice-cream scoop or two spoons, pour batter into the prepared paper liners, filling them about 3/4 of the way, or pour into the loaf pan. If desired, top with coconut flakes.
  7. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, or for about 35 minutes for a loaf pan.
  8. Allow to cool for a few minutes before eating, or if you are like me, and have no patience, eat them while they are hot!

Enjoy!!

~Ana

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