Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Forever Nigella: Street Party

I am a foodie. I’m constantly trying to enhance my knowledge of all things culinary.  I’m working on a interesting cookbook collection.  I enjoy watching cooking shows, (although I’m very selective).  I love learning about food history. I’m very interested in World Cuisine.  I’m up for a cooking challenge.  And I absolutely adore Nigella Lawson.

I recently learned of a new blogging event, Forever Nigella.  Each month a theme is announced and participants blog about any of Nigella’s recipes that fit the theme.  The winner is the one that exudes the most Nigella-ness.  I don’t know how much Nigella-ness I have in me, but a girl can try.


This month’s theme is “Street Party.”  Street Parties are a traditional way people in the U.K. celebrate major events like the upcoming Royal Wedding.  Street Party food is any food that you can serve to a crowd.  It happened that I had just the occasion to make a dish for a crowd yesterday.  We had a finger food fellowship after church Sunday night, so I whipped this up that afternoon while the kids had their naps.

Quadruple Chocolate Loaf Cake


That’s right, quadruple!  This moist cake includes both cocoa powder and chocolate chips in it’s silky batter.  After baking it is bathed in a glossy chocolate syrup and scattered with chocolate shavings.  It. Is. Scrumptious.  You may take it to serve to a crowd, but you will be secretly wishing for leftovers you can take home and greedily devour yourself, (preferably as a sneaky midnight snack).

Loaf cakes are great travelers, so this is perfect for taking to a gathering.  For serving to a large crowd, it’s a good idea to cut into thick slices and also down the middle to make more servings.  No one will complain about a small portion as this is so rich it should easily satisfy.


You can find this recipe in Nigella’s book Feast.  She also made this cake for her show Nigella Feasts, in the episode Food To Go.  You can find the recipe here too.

Are you a Nigella fan?  Find your inner Nigella and make something delicious. Nigella won’t let you down.

Here’s the rules:
Forever Nigella #4 “Street Party”
Challenge: To cook any Nigella recipe that would be suitable to bring to a street party i.e. any party food suitable for big groups.
Deadline: Sunday, May 1st at midnight wherever you are.

Round up: A few days later. Maybe a week. It depends how many of you enter.  The next challenge will be publicised as soon as this one ends and most likely before the Street Party round up.

There are:
No rules about how often you must take part
No rules about stuff being secret until certain dates (although you are encouraged to tease us on Twitter about what you are making)
No rules that everyone cook exactly the same thing
No rules about not being able to submit to any other blog contests – in fact Sarah actively encourages you to do this. Just make sure it doesn’t contravene any rules the other guys may have.

But there are 3 rules:
1. We want everyone to keep buying lots and lots of Nigella books so that she keeps writing them so you must NOT reproduce recipes verbatim as shown in Nigella’s publications. If you are sticking exactly to the original recipe, just tell us which book it was from and if available, provide a link to it on
Nigella.com which publishes a lot (but not all) of her recipes. (You may also find some recipes on sites for some TV stations and newspapers).  Alternatively, you may blog an adapted Nigella recipe so long as you have changed at least two ingredients and write the directions in your own words. Tell us what you changed and why.
2. Publish your Forever Nigella blog post (in English) by the closing date including the latest Forever Nigella graphic and giving a link to this post and the
Forever Nigella home page.  Your entry must have been published since the announcement post. You may only re-blog something from your archives if you republish it with the badge and links to this post before the deadline.
Email the details to me  and please Cc Sarah – I need your name, your blog name, a link to your post and a photo no more than 300 pixels wide. No billboard sized images please.

Street Party Round-Up

Linked to Made It On Monday

Monday, April 11, 2011

Dressing Up Dinner: Sweet Peas

I have recently been on a quest.  A quest to find a great way to cook Sweet Peas.  You know, other than drowning them in butter.  Of course a little butter is ok. So, one day, I put a few things together and came up with a recipe for peas that I think I could eat all the time. 


Dressed Up Sweet Peas
Serves 4
1-2 tablespoons butter
1  (15 oz.) can of Sweet Peas
1/2 cup chicken broth
Scant 1/2 teaspoon dried sage

In a small saucepan, melt butter on medium heat.  Add drained peas, chicken broth and sage to pan, stir and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring often,  for 10-15 minutes or until the liquid is mostly evaporated. 

Click here for the Printable Recipe at Tasty Kitchen.

Linked to Made It On Monday.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Tinker Bell Birthday Party



This weekend we celebrated Sophie’s 3rd birthday.  It became obvious to me a few months ago that Sophie’s obsession with Tinker Bell would provide the perfect theme for this party.  Our colors were Lime and Lavender to match just about every Tinker Bell item Sophie owns.   It was so much fun to plan!

We had the challenge of turning our church fellowship room into “Pixie Hollow”.  First let me show you “the backdrop”.  I had originally dreamt up something different, but it wasn’t going to work out.  My sister-in-law, Leigh, whipped this backdrop up the morning of the party to give a nice scene for opening presents.  Those are “fairy lights” aka white Christmas lights leftover from our wedding (they are used elsewhere too), a blue sheet and purple and green tulle tied with ribbon.  Leigh used thumbtacks to hold everything up.  This turned out so much nicer than what I had planned.


Hanging above is a “wreath-a-lier” that I made.  It is a Styrofoam wreath form (14”) with crepe paper roses hot glued all over and hung with ivory ribbon.  Don’t ask me how many roses! This was definitely a labor of love.  I wish you could all see it in person as these pictures do not do it justice.  Good news is that I can use it to decorate for spring, so we will get a lot of miles out of this thing.


To use as table centerpieces, I bought six of these little $1 birdhouses from Jo-Ann’s Fabric.  Then I painted them brown and hot glued green Spanish Moss, also from Jo-Ann’s, to the roofs.  On three of them I made “Fairies Welcome” signs made from stuff from my yard.  The other three I left blank.  And that’s scrapbook paper they are sitting on. Now that the party is over, I’m using the scrapbook paper to make a mini Birthday Party scrapbook using a small photo album. The kids got to take the birdhouses home along with their goodie bags.  The girls got the ones with signs and the boys got the plain ones to be “bug houses.”  I meant to stick some flowers in the moss, but left them at home.  Oh, well.

cirlce bh

Speaking of goodie bags, here they are.  They are just brown lunch sacks that have Tinker Bell and friends printed on the front.  I can’t remember where these were bought, but I’ve seen them all over.  Behind them are more fairy lights with flowers attached. These were made by dying white coffee filters in water and food coloring.  After drying, I stacked four filters of the same color and pinched them in the middle and tied a twist tie around the pinch.  Then I fluffed the flowers and attached them to the lights with their twist ties.  It’s super easy!


The kids made necklaces with “Fairy Treasure”. 


The food table was a challenge. As you can see there is a plain brick wall behind the table.  Leigh and I hung streamers and white paper lanterns over the table.  More fairy lights grace the table behind the food.  Aside from the food I’m about to mention, we also had a fruit and veggie tray, dip and chips, and Starburst Jelly beans, which just happen to be the best jelly beans to be found on this Earth, just sayin’.


We served lemonade out of this cute dispenser bought for 6 bucks at Walmart.  It has a lovely pattern on it too, which worked well with the theme.  Behind it are the napkins I fanned into a wing pattern, don’t know if anyone noticed but it thought I was clever.  Punch cups for the adults and Tinker Bell cups and straws for the kids.  Leftover lanterns rest in a wire basket.


Our choice of cookies were Oreos, to cater to a child with nut and egg allergies, and these cute flower shaped sugar cookies made using Nigella’s recipe and Wilton’s Royal Icing in Lavender to match our theme.


I wanted to serve Tinker Bell inspired cupcakes, so I sketched a few ideas and settled on these two.  In the yellow baking cups (both ruffled baking cups made by Wilton) are Yellow Cake (from a box because I haven’t found my perfect yellow cake recipe yet).  The purple cups hold the most amazing chocolate cake ever (from Pioneer Woman).  Both are toped with That’s The Best Frosting I’ve Ever Had.  The chocolate cupcakes are iced to look like grass with purple wildflowers.  The yellow cupcakes just scream ‘Tink’ to me.  On top of the green swirl rests a pearlescent gumball from Party City.  It’s pretty and tastes good too!

Cupcakes 1

I brought Sophie’s Tinker Bell costume which she had to wear for singing to her, blowing out the candles and opening presents. 

sophie and candles

We’re blessed to have a playground at the church building, so the kids got to play.  I think they had a good time.


Sophie had a great birthday party, she’s still talking about it.  Now we just have to sit back and wait for a fairy to take up residence in our little fairy house. “Come on Tink, we’ll even share our jelly beans!”

Linked to Made It On Monday, Bear Rabbit Bear and Muffin Monday.