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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Taste Cheese Crackers

My friend Imri is a server at Taste, the restaurant at the Seattle Art Museum. This past week, I stopped in with a group of friends after the 1st Thursday Art Walk to say hello to Imri and sample some yummies from his restaurant.

Everything was fabulous, and Imri treated us so well. He brought us complimentary appetizers, including some amazing cheesy crackers that I decided were akin to Better Cheddars, only 10x more with the ‘better’. I asked Imri if he could smuggle the recipe out, or if I could bribe the chef with cash, and he merely replied, “Oh, the recipe is online!” Way to smash my dreams of becoming a Foodie Mafioso, Imri.

Anyway, last weekend I made the cheese crackers. They were so tasty that I brought a few in to work to share with my boss. Later that afternoon, she burst into my office and said, “I would marry you for those crackers. If it were legal in this state. And you converted to Judaism. But seriously. They are AMAZING.”

Awww. I can always use more chef-skill-warm-fuzzies!

Taste Cheese Crackers
6 ¼ ounces Reggiano Parmigiano cheese, grated
1 ¼ cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons lemon zest
1 ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 ¼ ounces cold butter, cut into small pieces
2 teaspoons water
2 teaspoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon sea salt

To Prepare the Dough:

Stir together the cheese, flour, zest and pepper with a whisk. Add the butter and mix ingredients together on low speed until it becomes the texture of course meal. Drizzle in the water and lemon juice and mix until just combined.

Scrape dough out onto a lightly floured cutting board and into a ball. Roll the ball into a log. Place the log on parchment paper and roll up, twisting the ends to seal. Wrap logs in plastic wrap or Zip-lock bags and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or until ready to use. The log can be made and stored frozen for up to 2 weeks.

To Bake the Crackers:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice each log into thin rounds (about 1/8 inch thick) and place on a silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheet. Top each cracker with a sprinkle of sea salt and bake for about 12 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool crackers completely before removing from pan. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Notes:

+ I used Asiago cheese in lieu of the Reggiano Parmigiano.

+ The first batch turned out quite thick and somewhat chewy due to the thickness. The crackers we had at the restaurant were thin and crispy. For the 2nd batch, I flattened the dough out with my fingers to make larger, crispier crackers. Next time I may even use a rolling pin to make them ultra-thin and super crispy. (I like crispy).

+ The dough is really crumbly. I had to divide it up and make four logs instead of 1, because every time I tried to roll it out, it would crumble and break. The smaller logs worked a lot better.

+ Make sure your knife is really sharp to avoid even more crumbling. I have to wonder if a mandolin slicer would work. Hmm.

+ These crackers are tasty, but they STINK. To high heaven. My apartment smelled like stinky cheese for a good 12 hours after baking these suckers, and the clothes I was wearing during the process had to be banished to the laundry basket STAT. Turn on the fan, open the windows, and make sure the air is circulation when you bake these puppies up. You have been warned.





Friday, November 13, 2009

White Herb Bread Braids

I made this a couple weeks ago, and have since had a few requests for the recipe. Here you go, folks!

From page 37 of this cookbook.

White Herb Bread Braids

7 cups white bread flour
2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp sugar
7 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
About 2 ½ cups warm water
1 Tbsp active dry yeast
Grated Parmesan cheese and poppy seeds

Sift flour with salt. Add butter, onion, garlic, and herbs. Stir sugar into 1 cup of the water, sprinkle in the yeast, cover and leave to froth. Pour the yeast mixture into a well in the flour, mix and add the remaining water or enough to make a workable dough. Knead until smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball and return to bowl. Brush top with oil, cover and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Punch down, knead well and divide into two portions. Divide each half into three pieces, roll into long sausage shapes and then braid, pinching to close at both ends. Place loaves on greased baking sheets, cover lightly with damp towels and leave to rise until doubled – 30 to 60 minutes. Brush with milk and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and poppy seeds. Bake at 425° for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350° and bake for 20 minutes longer. Cool on a wire rack.





Friday, September 18, 2009

Creamy Lime Tart with Raspberry Coulis (aka: Pantyhose Pie)

I had a bunch of limes that I need to use up and raspberries that were on the brink of going bad, so I made a creamy lime tart with raspberry coulis.



Creamy Lime Tart Filling

5 large eggs
1 cup sugar
¾ cup heavy whipping cream
2/3 cup fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons grated lime peel

Whisk eggs, sugar, cream, lime juice, and grated lime peel in medium metal bowl to blend. Set bowl over saucepan of simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water); whisk slowly but constantly until mixture thickens and instant-read thermometer inserted into mixture registers 160°F, about 20 minutes. Remove bowl from over water. Cool mixture to room temperature, whisking occasionally. Pour into pie crust and let set (preferably in the fridge overnight). Garnish as desired.

Raspberry Coulis

1 pint raspberries
½ cup sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice

Throw everything in a blender and blend until combined. Strain mixture through a fine mesh colander* and discard seeds. Use as garnish for creamy lime tart or as a sauce on pancakes, ice cream, or other desserts.

*I don’t have a fine mesh colander, so I got creative and used an old pair of pantyhose (clean ones, of course!). Worked like a charm! (And I giggled through the entire process).

I added a couple drops of green food coloring, to minimize the yellow of the eggs.

The filling was a little too creamy and didn’t quite set up as I’d hoped. Rather, it flopped around on the plate. But everyone seemed to love it and I guess it all goes down the same, so who can really complain?

Slicing and juicing the limes:



Fresh grated lime peel:



I’m a bit messy sometimes:



A makeshift double boiler (KitchenAid mixer bowl over a pot of simmering water):



Hooray, I finally have reason to use the candy thermometer I got as a gift last year!



The finished product:

Homemade Hokey Pokey Ice Cream

Aside from the US and Canada, the most hits on this blog are currently coming from New Zealand. In an effort to give a shout out to my Kiwi readers, I thought I'd cook up something from their homeland.

My long-time friend and current roommate, Wren, is moving out this weekend, and I wanted to do something extra special for her. She’s a self-proclaimed Kiwi, having lived in New Zealand for about 18 months while serving a mission for the LDS church.

Whenever she talks of New Zealand, she gets a sparkle in her eye and a twinge of nostalgia in her voice. On several occasions, she’s mentioned the magic that is Hokey Pokey Ice Cream - vanilla ice cream with bits of sponge-y toffee goodness mixed in. A quick Google search yielded what appeared to be quite a simple recipe. Several phone calls to local import stores helped me locate golden syrup, and within just a few hours I had everything I needed to make this delectable treat.





(I made 2 quarts of ice cream, and therefore tripled the toffee recipe).

Hokey Pokey Ice Cream

15 Tbs. sugar
6 Tbs. golden syrup
3 tsp. baking soda



Bring sugar and golden syrup to a boil slowly, stirring constantly. Simmer over very low heat for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until a deep golden-brown color. Be careful not to allow it to burn. It’ll look something like this:



Remove from heat, add baking soda. Stir quickly until mixture froths - pour at once into a well greased shallow tin. Here’s some frothy hot sugar:



Allow to cool, break up (for ease in breaking, place in a plastic bag and use a rolling pin).



Store in air-tight jars.

Vanilla Ice Cream

4 large eggs
1 ½ cups sugar
4 cups heavy whipping cream
2 cups milk
4 tsp. vanilla extract

Whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.

Whisk in the sugar, a little at a time, then continue whisking until completely blended, about 1 minute more. Pour in the cream, milk, and vanilla and whisk to blend.

Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze following the manufacturer's instructions.

Mix the broken toffee bits into the softened ice cream, then transfer to the freezer to set. Enjoy!





Napoleon's Army

One of the staff members in my office had a birthday this week, and I signed up for “baked goods”. I made Napoleons, and they were a hit! There are two ways you can make Napoleons…the easy way or the hard way. I’ll give you the difficult version first.

Napoleons: Difficult

Quick Puff Pastry:
2 cups flour
1 ½ sticks cold butter plus 2 tablespoons
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup ice water

Custard:
1 ½ cups milk
4 egg yolks
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla

Garnish:
sweet melted chocolate
powdered sugar

Pastry: Sift together flour and salt. Add cold butter. Blend until mixture is clumpy. Add ice water and form into ball. Dust with flour, wrap in paper and chill 1 hour. Roll dough into 12 x 6" rectangle, dust lightly with flour. Fold top third over center and bottom third over top making a 4 x6 inch rectangle. Turn dough and repeat process after rolling out. Wrap dough and chill 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450.

Roll puff pastry to 1/8 inch thick sheet. Place on well buttered cookie sheet and prick with fork at intervals of one inch. Bake 15 minutes, or until light golden in color. Let cool on a wire rack.

Custard: Bring 1 cup milk and cream to a boil. In a small bowl, add cornstarch to beaten egg yolks and remaining milk. Add to milk and cream mixture and cook until thick. Add vanilla and chill.

To Assemble: Cut cooled pastry in strips to make 3 x 2 inch rectangles. Fill with cream. Garnish with sweet melted chocolate and powdered sugar. Chill.

Napoleons: Easy

Get a box of puff pastry (found in the frozen section under “dessert”). Cut into squares and cook according to package directions. Meanwhile, mix up a box of instant pudding or custard. Add a little bit of whipping cream and mix well. If you want, also add in a couple tablespoons of lemon curd.

Let the puff pastry cool slightly, then pull apart into two halves (top and bottom). Spoon a dollop of custard onto the bottom half of the pastry, then cover with top half. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired.

Melt chocolate chips or baking chocolate in the microwave, and add a splash of whipping cream. Stir well to combine, then drizzle over the napoleons. The end!





Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Nutella Gelato

I recently purchased an ice cream maker, and have been having fun with it all summer long. The first recipe I tried out using my new toy was Kiwi Sorbet. From there I was hooked! My roommate and I experimented with Cookies ‘n’ Cream, Butterfinger, Coconut Chocolate Chunk, and a few others. Our favorite however, by far, is Nutella Gelato.

Yes, it’s as good as it sounds. Yes, you’ll want to eat the entire batch yourself. No, you don’t want to know the caloric content of one scoop. Just savor the flavor and make time for an extra round at the gym. It’s worth it, trust me.

Nutella Gelato

• 4 cups whole milk
• 2 cups heavy cream
• 1 cup sugar, plus ½ cup
• 8 egg yolks
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 cup Nutella
• ½ cup toasted hazelnuts, crushed, for garnish

Directions

In a saucepan combine the milk, cream, and 1 cup sugar over medium heat. Cook until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, whip the egg yolks with the remaining (½ cup) sugar using an electric mixer until the eggs have become thick and pale yellow, about 4 minutes. Pour 1 cup of the warm milk and cream mixture into the egg mixture and stir. Add this mixture back into the saucepan. Cook over very low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture becomes thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 7 to 10 minutes. It’ll look something like this:



Place a strainer over a medium bowl and pour the warm custard through the strainer.

Stir in the vanilla and Nutella until it dissolves (I use a whisk to speed up this step).





You’ll have a hot, frothy, heavenly-smelling pot of nutty chocolate-y goodness on your hands. Please resist the urge to drink it straight from the ladle. It smells like hot chocolate made by angels. Seriously…if heaven has hot chocolate, this is what it will be like.



But no! Don’t taste it just yet! It’s NOT hot chocolate – it’s 8 egg yolks and cream and milk and sugar and Nutella, remember? Drinking it straight from the ladle is wrong! Wrong and bad! Wait ‘til it’s frozen and topped with more sugar before you eat it. You’ll feel a lot less guilty about it. Not that I speak from experience or anything. I’m just sayin’.

Chill completely. (I stick it on the counter to cool for a bit before transferring to the fridge).



Pour into an ice cream maker and follow manufacturer's instructions to freeze.

To serve, scoop gelato into serving bowls and top with hazelnuts.







Notes

• I was out of vanilla extract, and didn’t realize it until I had frothy custard bubbling on the stove. I scanned my cupboards for an alternative and, in a bit of a panic, settled on what proved to be the best idea I’ve had in a long time: ½ tsp coconut extract, and ½ tsp almond extract. Oh man, culinary breakthrough! Clouds parting, angels singing overhead, party-in-your-mouth flavor ecstasy. Sure, using the vanilla is good, and you’ll still love the taste, but the coconut-almond is GREAT. I triple-dog-dare you to try it yourself.

• I got just a little distracted and let the eggs whip for a bit longer than I should’ve. No matter! It just made the gelato that much fluffier. Mmm. Fluffy gelato.

• Please note that I made a double batch this time around, which makes roughly 2 quarts. You can halve the recipe and still end up with a fair amount of gelato.

• I recommend taking the liquid off the stove and letting it cool on the counter for about 30-45 minutes, then transferring to the fridge to cool for at least 3 hours (preferably 5-6 hours or overnight) before pouring into the ice cream maker.

• Most ice cream makers will not freeze your mixture to a hard consistency. Rather, it’ll be more like a smoothie, ever after sitting in the maker for a good 30-40 minutes. So, it’s generally a good idea to allow for another 2-4 hours to let it firm up in the freezer.

• Last time I made up a batch, I caramelized some chopped hazelnuts and sprinkled them over the top. I felt it took away from the awesomeness of the gelato. Your mileage may vary.

• A better suggestion for toppings (in my opinion) is any combination of strawberries, crushed graham crackers, and chocolate syrup. And, if you want to get really adventurous, mini marshmallows. My preference is lots of berries, a bit of graham, and the tiniest drizzle of syrup. Mmm!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Herbed Edamame Sauce with Soba Noodles and Peppered Cashews

This past week has been full of way too much heavy food. My roommate had a friend visiting from Texas, and in an effort to show her a good time, we ate at two local Italian restaurants, one pizza parlor, one ice cream shop, and one frozen custard joint. Then, to add insult to injury, we visited a tasty German Bakery/Deli/Café over the weekend and between dinner, breakfast, and rich pastries, all courtesy of the café, my stomach had reached its limit. Don’t get me wrong...it was all VERY yummy, but I needed something light and vegetarian to counteract the previous 5 days of rampant gluttony.

Tired of rich, heavy foods, I turned to my fridge and cupboards to see what kind of light meal I could throw together for dinner tonight. I noticed a half-eaten bag of frozen edamame in the freezer, and decided to use it up.

I really love my edamame. It’s the ultimate mod pod! The beans boast a buttery, nutty flavor and crisp texture, perfect for snacking. They’re addictive as peanuts but with far less fat―only 3 grams per ½ cup, all of which is the heart-healthy mono- and polyunsaturated kind. Because they are high in protein (8 grams per ½ cup), they make an ideal choice for getting your 25 grams of soy protein daily. Edamame also provide 4 grams of fiber per ½ cup. Go edamame!

Anyway, I wanted to do something more than just boil and eat them, like I always do, so I decided to puree the heck out of them, add some herbs ‘n’ stuff, then ladle the whole mess over soba noodles.

The results turned out quite nice! A light, meatless meal with plenty of protein and not a whole lot of fat! Tasty and healthy. Finished up with a small handful of fresh strawberries for dessert. Mmm-mm. Just right.

I eyeballed the ingredients. I’ll try to duplicate the recipe here.

Herbed Edamame Sauce with Soba Noodles

About 1 cup frozen shelled edamame (blanched)
¼ cup dry roasted cashews (pine nuts or other nuts could probably be used)
½ cup basil leaves
1 cup cilantro leaves
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
Pinch of salt
Dash of pepper
A couple heaping teaspoons minced garlic (about 2-3 cloves)
1 cup hot water
Hot cooked gluten-free soba noodles

Prepare edamame according to package directions. (Probably a good idea to omit salt – I always do, but for this recipe it’s especially necessary).

Place edamame, cashews, basil, and next 7 ingredients (basil through garlic) in a food processor and pulse it up until finely chopped.

Next, slowly pour hot water through the food chute and keep processing the mixture until smooth. Serve over soba, and garnish with extra cashews, cilantro, whole edamame, and lime wedges, if desired.

Notes
• The sauce was a bit too citrus-y for my taste, so I sprinkled some cheese on top. I had pecorino romano on hand, but any hard cheese should work. Next time I’ll add the cheese to the sauce to tone down the lime flavor.

• I don’t have a food processor. I like to pretend I do, and write recipes that require one. For this recipe, I used an old, beat-up blender. I think I bought it at Rite-Aid on sale for $8 when I was a Freshman in college. It didn’t work as nicely as a food processor would, but with a bit of elbow grease, it got the job done. Who wants to buy me a food processor, hmm?

• Whole Foods has a new item in their bulk department: peppered cashews. I had to give them a try. They did not disappoint.

• The brand of soba noodles I had in the cupboard was a bit salty. I guess soba noodles are supposed to be salty to begin with, but they seemed extra salty to me. Next time I might try regular ol’ wheat spaghetti noodles, and experiment using pine nuts and more basil for an Italian flare.
Here are some photos of the finished product.

My happy little live basil plant:



Soba & Sauce:





Thursday, July 16, 2009

Katharine Hepburn's Brownies



So far, the best recipe for brownies that I’ve ever come across is Katharine Hepburn’s. The story of Kate’s brownies is all over the web, in various forms, but it goes something like this:

After Hepburn died, eulogies came from all over the world, many including stories about her brownies. In an article in Bon Appetit magazine, a woman recalled wanting to quit her studies at Bryn Mawr. Her father managed to get Katharine, a Bryn Mawr alum and a neighbor, to intervene. The famous Kate invited both the young woman and her father to her home one afternoon. At tea, the budding student got a taste of the legendary brownies as well as a glimpse of the actress's views on education.

In her tribute to Kate, Ms. Henderson (the young woman) wrote, "I'll always be grateful to Miss Hepburn for making me stick it out at Bryn Mawr and for giving me these rules to live by: 1. Never quit; 2. Be yourself and 3. Don't put too much flour in your brownies."

And that really is the key. This recipe calls for only ¼ cup flour, making the brownies turn out quite chewy and dense, and not dry at all. I usually leave out the walnuts because I’m not much of a fan of a nuts in my baked goods, but I’m sure they’d be fantastic either way. Besides, who says I have to follow this recipe to a ‘T’? As Kate would say, “If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.”

Katharine Hepburn’s Brownies

• 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter
• 2 squares unsweetened chocolate
• 1 cup sugar
• 2 eggs
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
• 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Melt together 1 stick butter and 2 squares unsweetened chocolate and take the saucepan off the heat. Stir in 1 cup sugar, add 2 eggs and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and beat the mixture well. Stir in 1/4 cup all-purpose flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt. (In the original recipe, 1 cup chopped walnuts is added here as well.) Bake the brownies in a buttered and floured 8-inch-square pan at 325°F for about 40 minutes.

(I added some chocolate buttercream frosting on top. I’m sure Kate would approve.)





Raspberries

Fancy, complicated, gourmet food is fun to cook (and eat!), but sometimes…sometimes, the best food comes straight from the vine/ground/tree/bush.

Fresh raspberries. ‘Nuff said.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Rosemary-Brie Mac 'n' Cheese

Awhile ago I tried my hand at Rosemary-Brie Mac ‘n’ Cheese. It didn’t turn out as great as I’d hoped. It had kind of a bitter taste to it, and I couldn’t figure out if it was due to too much rosemary in the mix, or perhaps the fact that the breadcrumbs got slightly burned. It was fun to try this recipe, though, and now I want to do more cooking with figs, just because!

Rosemary-Brie Mac 'n Cheese

2 cups small elbow macaroni, or similar pasta as desired
1/2 cup panko flakes or other breadcrumbs
4 tablespoons butter
1 ½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
2/3 cup whole milk (be prepared to add more as necessary)
7 oz. Brie, rind removed
5 oz. gruyere, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
5 oz. fresh shitake mushrooms, sliced and sautéed in 1 teaspoon butter
1 cup diced fresh figs
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Cook macaroni in medium saucepan of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite. Drain.

Melt 3T butter in large saucepan; melt remaining tablespoon in small saucepan. Mix panko or other breadcrumbs into small saucepan; remove from heat and set aside.

Add flour to large saucepan; whisk over medium-low heat 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk. Add rosemary and bring to boil, whisking constantly. Whisk 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat. Add cheese, mushrooms and figs; stir until melted. Add more milk if necessary for thick, creamy consistency.

Preheat broiler. Mix macaroni into sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon into Pyrex (or, for more crunchy surface area, spoon into 9-inch pie plate); sprinkle crumbs over. Broil until crumbs brown, about 2 minutes, and serve hot.

Roasted broccoli with olive oil and salt/pepper on the side.





Monday, July 13, 2009

Kiwi Sorbet

Last week, I was happily eating a kiwi fruit when I got the brilliant idea to make...Kiwi Sorbet. This idea nagged at me for several days until it turned into a burning desire. I HAD to make sorbet. I was craving kiwi sorbet all day and seeing visions of it in my sleep.

I’d had my eye on ice cream makers for about a month. As luck would have it, a nice model (Cuisinart, capabilities to make 2 quarts) was available at Costco at a decent price. I gave in and purchased it. And, of course, christened it with kiwi sorbet.

The recipe I found was in a Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream & Dessert cookbook that I purchased a couple years ago. I modified it a little (doubled the recipe and substituted ingredients). Here's my version:

Kiwi Sorbet

1 lb. fresh kiwis (about 6) peeled and cut into small pieces
1 ½ cup sugar
6 Tbsp. lime juice
1 cup pineapple juice
2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
4 cups cold water

Combine kiwis, sugar, and lime juice in a mixing bowl. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

When ready to freeze sorbet, mash the kiwis up, then add the pineapple juice, corn syrup, and water and stir until blended.

Transfer mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze following manufacturer’s instructions.

Make 2 quarts.

Notes:

• I tried mashing with a potato masher, but that didn’t work so well, so I transferred the mixture to a blender and pulsed it up to get the consistency I wanted.

• Substitutions: Lime juice in place of lemon, pineapple juice in place of midori (melon liquer).

• It never fully freezed in the ice cream maker (technical difficulties using the appliance for the first time, and maybe the pineapple juice had something to do with the freezing process) and I wound up adding banana and ice to make smoothies for dinner guests out of about half the batch. The rest went into the freezer overnight.

• It turned out nice and frozen, but more like a “kiwi ice” than a “kiwi sorbet”.

• The smoothies were pretty good, but the sorbet is really, really sweet. Without the bananas and ice to tone it down, it’s a little over the top. Next time I’ll try just one tablespoon corn syrup, and maybe less pineapple juice or something different in its place.





Monday, June 29, 2009

Cupcake Party

So, this weekend I hosted a cupcake party for a friend who had a birthday recently. In case you’re wondering what a cupcake party is, here’s a general idea:

1. Invite a bunch of people over.
2. Make a batch of chocolate cupcakes.
3. Make a batch of vanilla (‘yellow’) cupcakes.
4. Ask your guests to bring frosting, sprinkles, and other toppings.
5. Make gift certificates for silly cupcake categories.
6. Get cheap prizes for everyone.
7. Have fun!

I hit the Daiso store at Alderwood for my prizes. I found some cool stuff: a fun ice cream scoop, a cooking timer, cute little Japanese cupcake liners, awesome neck ties for the men (pink with red polka dots!), and a couple cute ramekins. I also found vanilla cupcake-scented and buttercream-scented candles and lip balm at the Yankee Candle Co., a cupcake cookbook, and a host of other fun stuff on the cheap.

Everyone seemed to have a fun time and I’d love to do it again soon! Here are a few photos from the evening:



















Full set of photos over here.