Lamb Cake Inspiration

20 Mar

Lamb Cake

One of my mother-in-law’s annual Easter traditions is a cake in the shape of a lamb. She usually makes her cake in advance, and rather than traditional cake in the mold, she molds layers of ice cream, instead. Unfortunately, a few years ago, the freezer holding her already-completely-decorated lamb cake was accidentally unplugged, and she discovered her melted lamb just before Easter.

Lamb Cake

Lamb Cake

My sis-in-law and I jumped in and made our best replacement lamb (above), learning along the way that there are SO MANY TERRIFYING LAMB CAKES on the internet. I almost can’t recommend that you google it, but you know you want to. Anyway, just wanted to share my cakes from that year and last year (below), in case anyone is looking for a lamb cake that won’t scare the kids at your Easter celebration. My strategy: skip the face, add flowers.

Lamb Cake

Tiny Flower-Shaped Pies

12 Mar

Mini flower-shaped berry pie

If you have a mini muffin tin and a flower cookie cutter, these pies are a super easy and cute spring project!

Mini flower-shaped berry pie

I used store-bought pie crust, rolled and cut out with a cheapie flower cookie cutter (the one that comes in a set like this). Press the dough flowers into a mini muffin tin (skip every other hole so that the petals don’t touch), fill with your favorite pie filling and bake! Watch them carefully — they cook quickly.

Mini flower-shaped berry pie

Mini flower-shaped berry pie

Gold Leaf Easter Eggs

11 Mar

Gold leaf eggs

Of all the many ways I’ve decorated eggs, gold leaf eggs are my favorite! The first time I tried it was with a cardboard box kit from the Easter section (below). Later, after not seeing a similar kit for a few years, I bought a gold-leaf starter kit (like this) and found it to be just as easy. The leaf kit also includes more metallic sheets, justifying the extra cost. Pro tip: let eggs come to room temperature (and stop sweating) before applying leaf!

Gold leaf eggs

Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf Costume

25 Sep

Three Little Pigs costume

Our new, rather unruly, husky gave us the idea for this group Halloween costume: Three Little Pigs and the Big, Bad Wolf.

Big bad wolf dog costume

Cat pig costume

Once again, we turned to felt + cardboard + elastic. The noses are paper towel rolls covered in felt with puff paint nostrils. The ears are hot-glued to old headbands. Everything from the pink shirts to the old bricks to the gingham napkin is something we already owned (critical for those last-minute costumes!).

Three Little Pigs costume

Big bad wolf dog costume

I can’t say that I loved dressing up as a pig for Halloween, but I’m not sure it’s worse than the woman in American Gothic!

Big bad wolf dog costume

Minnie and Mickey Mouse Pumpkins

23 Sep

Minnie and Mickey Mouse painted pumpkin

M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E!

My husband and I, unsurprisingly, both showed up to the pumpkin painting party with Disney ideas. I’ll post his amazing Jack Skellington pumpkin soon.

For Mickey and Minnie, I used acrylic craft paint and the help of painter’s tape to make the center line. I stamped the white polka dots with an unused eraser on the end of a pencil. You know I love those polka dots—see the dotting technique in action on Easter eggs, or another finished pumpkin example with gold dots.

I used scrapbook paper to make the ears, ribbon for the bow and hot glue to hold it all together. The ears were a bit tenuous—perhaps super glue or a pin would have been more secure?

The best part about painted pumpkins (besides the lovely lack of pumpkin guts)? They’ll last all season on your shelf, so it’s not too early to get crafting!

Cat in the Hat Costume (with Thing 1 and Thing 2!)

21 Sep

Cat in the Hat group costume

We have a box of felt in our attic that comes down exactly one day each year: October 30.

Even though Halloween falls on the same day each year, and even though it’s the very last day of the month—with no possibility of sneaking up on us—Greg and I find ourselves in a yearly panic over Halloween costumes. It turns into a late-night, felt-to-the-rescue DIY session on October 30 . . . or sometimes the morning of October 31, if we’re being completely honest.

Cat in the Hat Cat Costume

It’s partially because we know that dressing up a pet is a ridiculous tradition. It’s partially because we don’t want to spend money on said ridiculous tradition. Every year, we consider skipping, and every year we cave at the last minute. Because now that it’s a tradition, we just can’t seem to let it go. (It all began with a dollar store devil costume, bought on a whim, and anyone who has ever met Pixel can certainly understand.)

A few years ago, we threw together this Cat & the Hat group costume. We already had red shirts, so I just printed, cut and taped on Thing 1 and Thing 2 graphics from the interwebs. The cat’s hat is a cardboard cylinder (a breadcrumb container, I believe) covered with felt stripes and attached with elastic (another supply that rarely comes out besides October 30). Same story for the bowtie—felt, hot glue and elastic. In hindsight, a simple piece of cardboard under the bill of the hat would have helped it keep its shape.

Cat in the Hat with Thing 2 Costume

I was so happy with the finished costumes! They were SO easy and so cute! They couldn’t withstand a party, but Pixel hasn’t been getting many invites lately, anyway.

I have at least two other group/pet Halloween costumes from past years (and one doesn’t even involve felt!), so look for those soon!

Coconut Cheesecake and Cookie Nests

18 Mar

Coconut cheesecake and nests

As previously stated here, here, here, here, here and here, I love a good cheesecake. Not only is cheese my “love language” (making cheesecake my favorite dessert), the very fact that cheesecake freezes beautifully makes it a welcome addition to nearly every holiday or party I host. Something I can check off months in advance? Yes, please.

I tried and loved a new recipe for this cheesecake. I skipped the strawberry topping and instead spread a thin layer of whipped cream on top (1.5 cups cream with a couple teaspoons of sugar). Not only did this make a smooth, pretty surface for my decoration, but it was delicious. I might add a whipped top to all my cheesecakes from now on! And one last recipe change—I didn’t want to buy coconut rum, so I replaced it with 1/8 cup regular rum and 1/8 cup leftover cream of coconut.

I served the coconut cheesecake with both chocolate sauce and berry compote on the side, and while delicious with both, it was great on its own. I probably won’t bother with the toppings next time.

Coconut Cheesecake and Nests

Now for the super cute nests on top. Because they’re cookies, they could easily be placed on any type of cake, cupcake or cheesecake, or served solo. The recipe makes plenty, so I had a platter of cookie nests on the side. The solo cookies weren’t as good as the cheesecake, but very kid-friendly.

The recipe is from the back of the M&Ms bag, and my only modifications were to use fewer M&Ms (just 3 per nest) and to melt some chocolate chips for the center of the nests to act as glue. I have no idea how the M&Ms would stay put otherwise.

Coconut & M&Ms Bird’s Nest Cookies
Yield: 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients:
1 1/3 cup flaked, sweetened coconut
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups M&M’s Chocolate Eggs

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Spread coconut on non-greased cookie sheet. Toast in oven, stirring occasionally, until it turns light golden, about 25 minutes (Edit: this is crazy too long. Watch carefully, stir often, don’t be surprised if it’s done before 10.)

2. Remove coconut from cookie sheet and set aside.

3. Increase oven temperature to 350°F. In large bowl, add butter and sugar and whip until light and fluffy; beat in egg and vanilla.

4. In medium bowl, combine flour and salt. Blend into creamed mixture.

5. Form dough into 1-1/4-inch balls. Roll heavily into toasted coconut.

6. Place coconut cookies 2 inches apart on lightly greased cookie sheets. Make indentation with thumb in center of each cookie. Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until golden brown.

7. Remove cookies and cool completely. Fill indentations with M&M’s Chocolate Eggs.

Coconut Nests

Eggs in a Basket Casserole

17 Mar

Eggs in a Basket Casserole

I made this bacon and egg casserole for last year’s Easter brunch, and it was the perfect combination of festive and flavorful. I love that it can be made ahead AND made *half* vegetarian.

At the recommendation of reviewers, I boiled the potato cubes for five minutes before adding. To make half of our casserole vegetarian, I skipped the bacon fat for cooking and greasing, and I (obviously) left the bacon out of one half. But, let it be known, BOTH sides were delicious!

Easter Candy Bark

19 Feb

Easter Candy Bark

Easter candy bark

I saw these ingenious cookie-cutter candy bark pieces on the Etsy blog and had to create my own. Even though I attempted something very similar to the original, I love the endless possibilities! With slight modifications, I’ve also made peppermint Christmas bark and dark chocolate Valentine’s Day bark. Shamrocks with green melts and candy pieces, anyone?

Easter candy bark

The limiting factor is definitely the number of cookie cutters, but these harden quickly in the freezer!

Easter candy bark

P.S. In the years since I’ve updated Seakettle, I’ve had millions of post-worthy moments: backyard parties, holiday desserts, homemade gifts. I’ve also re-created a number of previous blog projects and come to realize just how much I depend on my Seakettle notes, links and photos! So I’ve decided to throw up a bunch of old and random posts, for my future self’s sake! They will likely lack the story-telling and in-depth instructions, but they’ll get the ideas out there and maintain this site as a reference.

Easter candy bark

Easter Egg Bread Wreath

31 Mar

Easter Egg Bread Wreath

Easter Egg Bread Wreath

I have a definite preference for bringing pretty foods to parties and potlucks; I never contribute meat, for example, and have mostly avoided green salads. Even though my dishes are generally well received, I figure I can only get away with donut pops and sugar cookies so many times, right? Because of this, I’m always excited to find beautiful savory foods (bonus points if they’re holiday-themed).

After seeing many vibrant, frosted, sprinkle-y (three things I love!) Easter egg breads gone terribly crazy wrong, I was happy to find a few chic examples. After seeing this wreath, I fell in love with the robin’s egg idea and set about recreating it.

Easter egg bread wreath

I dyed my (uncooked) eggs turquoise with food coloring. Rather than brown paint, I decided to add flecks of gold, and I splatter painted the eggs with non-toxic paint. Then I lightly coated the colored eggs in oil—it supposedly helps prevent color splotchiness from condensation on the eggs.

Adding gold flecks to Easter eggs

After decorating the eggs, I found a highly reviewed recipe and went for it! Creating the wreath shape looked impossible (and I was nervous), but I can assure you that it’s easier to do it than it is to read how to do it. The dough is also nice and flexible with plenty of room for error and adjustment.

Easter Egg Bread Wreath
Adapted, only slightly, from allrecipes.com

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
2/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
3 eggs
6 dyed eggs, brought to room temperature

Directions
1. In a large bowl, combine 1 cup flour, sugar, salt and yeast; stir well.

2. Combine milk and butter in a small saucepan; heat until milk is warm and butter is softened but not melted.

3. Gradually add the milk and butter to the flour mixture; stirring constantly.

4. Add two of the eggs and 1/2 cup flour; beat well.

5. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition.

6. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.

7. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil.

8. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

9. Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface.

10. Divide the dough into two equal size rounds; cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

11. Roll each round into a long roll about 36 inches long and 1 1/2 inches thick.

Rolling dough

Rolled dough

12. Set the two rolls of dough parallel to each other, slightly offset (this will help hide the ends later). Criss-cross the pieces to form a loosely braided ring, leaving gaps for the colored eggs.

Making a bread wreath

Making a bread wreath

13. Seal the ends of each roll together and tuck under the other roll, if possible.

Hiding the ends

Dough wreath

Hiding the ends

Dough wreath

14. Transfer the dough to a greased baking sheet.

15. Slide eggs in matching orientation (wide end of egg, pointy end of egg followed by wide end of egg, pointy end of egg etc.) into slots and reshape dough as needed.

Ready to rise again

Ready to rise again

16. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and set in a warm place and to rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.

17. Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.

18. Lightly beat remaining egg and brush a coat over risen dough.

Brushing with egg

19. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden.

The finished wreath will be quite large—larger than I had anticipated and larger than any of my platters! I ended up liking the round look of a pizza stone for serving, though a large cutting board or even the cookie sheet would work, as well.

Have a wonderful Easter!

Easter egg bread wreath