Saturday, August 29, 2009

Baby shower success!

It's rare for me to feel completely happy with anything I make, whether it's food or knitting or whatever, but I must say, I'm overall very pleased with how everything turned out for my friend's baby shower.

I actually relied quite heavily on the two Ina Garten cookbooks I have: Barefoot Contessa and Barefoot Contessa Parties! These were two of the first cookbooks I ever bought and I use them often. In fact, I think I've made almost every item in the first one, and at least half of the ones in the second. I've never been a fan of her Food Network series (I actually bought these before she had a show), but I'd say that more often than not, when I need something to make for guests, they are my "go-to" books. Her recipes do sometimes call for odd or random ingredients that I don't normally keep on hand (like say, extra-large eggs), but they are otherwise very well written and I've had consistently good results.

Today I made her Sour Cream Coffee Cake again, this time with cake flour and the full amount of sour cream (full-fat, of course). I thought that it turned out great last time with the all-purpose flour, so I was eager to see if the cake flour would make a big difference. I think it did, but then again, I'm picky like that. The one I made today had a much more delicate crumb, and was also lighter & airier (if that's a word). In retrospect, I think that the all-purpose flour version I made last time was a tad on the dense side. Today's cake earned raves all around, and there's actually only a small hunk left. Yay! I do think that I went overboard with mixing in the streusel topping though. It was prettier with more streusel on top last time.
IMG_10997 by you.

As I mentioned in the post from a couple days ago, I also made some cranberry scones. These also turned out very good, after a few adjustments. Instead of the 14-16 large scones, I made minis, cutting 2x2" squares in half diagonally. By the way, this is the type of recipe that is great to make ahead and then freeze. I rolled and cut the raw dough, then lay the pieces on a sheet pan in my freezer. Once frozen, I threw them all (unbaked) into a ziploc bag. If you cut them small like that, it makes a LOT; I baked off about 40 today and I probably have almost that many still left in my freezer. When it's time to bake, you don't even need to thaw them. Just plop them on a pan, give them a brush of milk or cream or an egg wash, and then sprinkle sugar on top. Bake at 400 for about 15 minutes or until the edges begin to brown. These are more biscuit-y scones, which I actually prefer. I think that next time I may up the sugar just a tad more.
IMG_10991 by you.

Last, but not least, I made Ina's Coconut Cupcakes, also from her first book. Warning: these are insanely decadent! I'm not sure I want to say exactly how much butter went into the cupcakes and frosting, but if you're curious, go ahead and click on the link above to the recipe on Food Network's website. I'm not really a huge fan of coconut, but these were fantastic! I did use a lot more coconut then she called for for the topping (probably double), and I also toasted the coconut until it was pretty brown because it was a bird-themed baby shower and I was going for a "nest" look. I attempted to put Jordan almonds on top to mimic the look of eggs, but they wouldn't stay on and frankly, I didn't think it looked that great.
IMG_11003 by you.

IMG_11002 by you.

Normally, when I plan a party, I go way overboard and get super ambitious about how much food I can make. Then as the date gets closer, I freak out and start dropping things and rejiggering my menu. For this shower, I knew that I was going to be on a time crunch and I tried really really hard to keep it realistic. I also tried to be extremely organized and do as much as possible in advance, even writing lists of things I wanted to accomplish each day this week. I think I achieved that goal. I rounded out my baking with a few simpler items: veggies, dips, a sandwich tray, green salad, fruit; I also asked some friends to pitch in with a few items. Here's some more pics of the food from today's brunch.

Summer fruit salad, one of my favorites. I only make this in the summer with super ripe fruit, although I've been known to occasionally sweeten it up with a couple of tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk.

IMG_10995 by you.

Tracee's delicious focaccia.
IMG_11008 by you.

Cara's very yummy mini cinnamon rolls
IMG_11006 by you.

And a shot of (almost) the full spread
IMG_11009 by you.

For more on the birds and crafty stuff, check out my other blog.


  1. You've come a long way from those cabbage in a crock pot days. :) I'm so impressed!

  2. GAH! Don't remind me! Or how about tuna casserole? Although I confess, I do still make that one once in a rare while. And in my own defense, the cabbage soup was my mom's insano diet thing that she forced on me.

  3. I liked your tuna casserole! And yes, that was an insane diet.