An Island cake (part 2)

The ingredients are all listed in part 1. There are several steps to decorating this cake, it will take a while, but they are all very simple. You will want to start with readying your decorations.

Grass: Put the coconut in a ziplock baggie. Add about 3 drops of green food coloring. Seal the baggie. Shake the baggie. (this is a great task to hand the child at your feet asking to help) If the coconut isn’t a medium green throughout, add additional drops of green, shaking the baggie well in between adding the coloring. Now you have grass! You can store this baggie as is in the fridge till you need it and if there are leftovers  you can even freeze it.

Sand: Place about 1/4 of the Nilla wafers into a baggie. Seal the baggie. Smush the wafers, you need to eliminate all large pieces, don’t crush till powder throughout, it will just get mushy on you in the frosting and won’t look right. (this is another great task for that kid whose done making grass)

Ocean: In a medium sized bowl fold (with spatula, NOT a hand mixer) small amounts of the Cornflower blue paste color into the cream cheese frosting. You want the color to be somewhat blended, not smooth color throughout. Leave some portions white and some too dark blue.

Thatch: Take the triscuts and break them length wise into a bowl. You will want the random shreds and the longer pieces.

Plan your cake: Do you have a side of the cake (other than the center) that is slightly higher than the others? That’s where your hut should go. The opposite side will be the ocean, next a strip of beach, the grass up to and around your hut. If there are any natural curves in the surface use those as best you can it will help the separated sections look better.

First frost your land. Use the Lemon frosting all the way to the line for the ocean. This layer should be just as thick as the top frosting layer on a regular cake. Now place one of the small round cakes upside down (so it is perfectly flat on the side facing up) where the hut will go. Frost about 1/2 inch of chocolate across the small cake’s surface. Place the other small round cake right side up on top of the chocolate frosting. Place 4 wooden skewers through all 3 cake layers in the “corners” of the circle, make sure that the skewers are about 1 inch in from the outer edge of the small round cake. Gently cut the skewers level with the top layer of cake. (don’t forget these are here later when you cut the cake!)

Now you will fill in the ocean, fill from the edge you made with the lemon frosting to the end of the pan. Smooth as little as possible, which will make the blue ocean look more like waves and varying water colors.

Next up is sand, use your hand to shield the ocean as best you can. Pour small hand fulls of sand onto the beach at a time until you cannot see the lemon any longer and the beach area is filled out.

Now frost the hut with chocolate. Try to get the entire hut covered as best you can without getting too much chocolate in the lemon. Small errors will get covered by the grass. You want about 1/2 inch of chocolate all around the two small cakes, including the top.

Now the “bamboo poles” that make up the exterior of your hut! Place the  Pirouette cookie wafers one at a time, side by side all the way around the exterior of the small circle cakes. You will want to gently push each wafer all the way through the lemon frosting and the orange cake until you hit the bottom of the pan. Make sure you are pushing them down the sides of the small circle cakes, through the layer of chocolate frosting. (this will help both the cakes to not slide and the “bamboo” to stay straight) The tops of the wafers will stick up above the top of the cake layers. Take 1 cupcake and place it in the center of the hut. Frost all around the top of the hut with chocolate. Use the larger pieces of triscuts to bridge from the center out to the wafers. Sprinkle the shreds into bald spots, completely covering the chocolate with “thatch”.

Now fill in around the hut and all the way to the sand with the coconut grass.

With dry palms, gently press grass and sand slightly into the lemon frosting. (this will help it stay put better). Fill in any bald spots you might have accidentally created.

Place your umbrella in the sand at an inviting angle and admire your handy work!

*Note: the remaining cupcakes are good with or without frosting to hand to little ones who feel they might die if they don’t have a piece of the cake they have been staring at for 3 or 4 days.*

*Also, do not wrap this cake in saran wrap or anything else! Store in open cool dry air. Otherwise you will have a soggy mess with droopy bamboo and all.*

Visit the Luau party page for all the recipes and posts involved in this party!


An Island Cake (part 1)

This was definitely la pièce de résistance of the Luau Party. It was super easy to make, but still really delicious and cool looking. The original plan I had come up with called for a fondant-wrapped Tiki statue on this cake island, however when I reevaluated the physics of fondant in a hotel room kitchen I decided there wasn’t enough rum to attempt it. (to calm my nerves after trying, of course)

This is a cake mix recipe, I do these a lot if there are going to be lots of time-consuming or complicated things for me to do for a party to help save time. If you have a really great Lemon or Orange cake recipe, by all means use your recipe, for the rest of us mortals this is how I put it all together.

You Will Need:

2 boxes Lemon cake mix (and all the ingredients on the boxes)

1 box Orange cake mix (ditto on the ingredients)

Cream cheese frosting

2 cans Lemon frosting

1 can chocolate frosting

3 small boxes instant vanilla pudding

3 cups milk (whatever milk you use at home- I use 2% for cooking)

The rest of the bag of coconut

1/2 box Nilla Wafers (or any vanilla off/store brand cookie like it)

2 ziplock baggies

Cornflower Blue paste food coloring (Again free product endorsement– I like Wilton’s & you can find this in any craft store)

Wooden skewers (like you would use to grill with)

Green liquid food color

About 20 Triscuts

1 full (no nibbles, sorry) container Pirouette Chocolate Hazelnut Cookie Wafers

1 Extra Large rectangle cake pan ( I used 17 x 14 inch, whatever you use you need to adjust the proportions of the cake batter and all the pans)

2 small (I used 6 x 2 inch) round cake pans

1 muffin pan

1 can non-stick cooking spray for baking (the kind with the flour in the spray)

1 or 2 paper drink umbrellas

Mix each type of cake as directed on the package with the following tweaks:

In bowl mix with hand mixer on medium speed all “wet” ingredients plus pudding and milk (2 boxes and 2 cups for lemon cake, 1 box and 1 cup for orange cake). After well blended ( will have a slightly  soupy pudding consistency) add cake mix powder, mixing until just blended.

DO NOT over mix, this will cause peaks, cracking, etc in your cake! It is better to leave a few small unmixed bits, those will cook out.

Preheat oven as directed.  Spray all the bake wear.

Pour Lemon cake mix into rectangle pan. Bake in oven as directed on package. (will take longer because this cake is bigger and thicker than anything on the package, but use those directions as a base line. When this large cake is done, set aside to cool over night.

 Pour Orange cake mix first into round cake pans, then the remainder into the muffin pan. Do not overfill the round pans, they should be about 2/3 to 3/4 full. Bake all of this according to the directions for cupcakes on the package. Keep in mind the cupcakes will be done about 10 minutes before the round pans, but you will want to keep a close eye on them once the cupcakes are done. When these are all done, set aside to cool overnight.

Go have a drink and read a book or something, relax because tomorrow there’s lots more to do!

Visit the Luau party page for all the recipes and posts involved in this party!

Luau Party Foods

My goodness! Epic blog fail. I realized today when I was cleaning up my OneNote Unfiled Notes folder that I hadn’t posted the rest of GirlChild’s birthday luau food! Sorry all! Below you will find the meal-type food from the party. Enjoy 🙂

Kid-Friendly “SPAM” & Pineapple Skewers:

You may not be aware, but SPAM is hugely popular in Hawaii, Ham is hugely popular in many tropical cultures so a lot of dishes recommended for luaus contain at least one or the other. However, I am against SPAM, I’m not judging you if you are, but canned “meat” that requires quotation marks? *shudder* I’m just too picky for that. I also am not roasting a ham to make skewers for a child’s birthday party, that would be crossing the proverbial line from fun and eccentric, straight into Crazy town. (And I prefer to only visit Crazy town for the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas) So these skewers are much more kiddie (or picky adult) friendly and well, easier.

Cut 1 to 2 packages worth of turkey hot dogs (they are about the same to slightly more than regular hot dogs) into 1 1/2 inch to 2 inch slices. Place them in large sauce pot.

Add your kid’s favorite BBQ sauce. Go with a sweet one, not a spicy one for more universal crowd appeal. (if you are using bottled you will need 1 16oz bottle) You want your bite-sized dogs just coated, not swimming. Turn on stove and simmer for about 25 to 30 minutes, some caramelization should be happening and everything will be heated through. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Open 2 large cans of pineapple chunks canned in their own juice, drain into Tupperware. (save juice in fridge, you will need it later)

Now bring in a minion child to help. They’ve been clamoring to help all week and now they can. This is about patterns. Show them how to make one them let ’em go! (Please make sure the hot dogs are cooled and everyone washes hands first)

Taking a regular cooking skewer, alternate hot dog bite and pineapple chunk until there are 3 of each on your skewer. Then place it on the platter. Done! Next!

*You can prepare the hotdogs up to a week before if you refrigerate them, but let them get about room temp before trying to handle them, cold hurts almost as bad as hot does to little fingers. Also, don’t try to assemble skewers before the day of your party, BBQ bleeds into pineapple in the fridge, and trying to fit them all in a Tupperware will kinda drive you nuts. *


For littler kids I have done this with no BBQ and by putting 3 of hot dog & 2 of pineapple on cut in half standard skewers. They are less likely to become weapons this way. (not my first beachy themed party)

Mini Sandwiches:

This recipe uses deli meat ham, use whatever you prefer to serve. I used an oven roasted ham. I alternated between 2 cheeses Munster and Cheddar thinly sliced. Both of those are pretty kid friendly, but if you prefer something else, make it yours. I also alternated between Honey-mustard and Dijon-mustard. Just “flag” the Dijon ones with umbrellas so everyone knows which is which.

Gather about 2 packages King’s Hawaiian Sweet Rolls. Cut eat in 1/2 like buns.

Layer ham, cheese and mustard into “buns”.

Arrange on platter and serve!

*These will keep about 12 to 24 hours in the fridge before drying out.*

Pineapple Fruit Salad:

This is a great mini fruit salad. Serving it in the pineapple, instead of a traditional watermelon keeps leftovers to a minimum. After you assemble this and place it with your other party food, store the extra fruit salad in a Tupperware in the fridge for refilling during the party.

Cut open a pineapple about 1 inch to the side of the fronds straight across, this will create a large oval above the fronds when you lay the pineapple on its side. Using a knife (carefully) remove the pineapple from its exterior, leaving a bowl to serve your fruit salad in. Set “bowl” on serving platter and to the side for now. Throw away core.

Cut pineapple into bite sized bits and place in large bowl.

Now the fun part. Pick what fruits (that are tropical) and cut them into similar sized pieces, add them to the bowl and stir. Citrus juice (like pineapple, oranges, etc) help keep fruit from oxidizing (turning brown in the open air). I used cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon, mandarin oranges, kiwi, grapes, and strawberries. Yum!

This will keep about a week in your fridge as leftovers.


*when you serve this place a few whole strawberries, a slice of kiwi, and a small bunch of grapes on the plate, suddenly it looks really professionally done.*

Visit the Luau party page for all the recipes and posts involved in this party!

Fabulous Tropical Cookies

So GirlChild is turning 14 on Saturday. This year she has chosen a Luau themed party so this’ll be a week full of Luau themed recipes and decorations and games that *fingers crossed* are both 14-year-old appropriate and sit enjoyable to said 14 year olds. (Wish me luck) To start off, tonight I made Fabulous Tropical Cookies (sometimes the name helps, sometimes my daughter rolls her eyes and a name sticks, perhaps there should be less eye rolling? Hmm?). This recipe I made up because I couldn’t find a recipe that had everything in it I needed. But when I mention oatmeal cookie batter I use the recipe out of the Mrs Fields Cookie Book the second printing (it says copyrighted 1992). This book also threatens bodily harm if you reproduce for any reason (I have to assume they mean other than baking the cookies) anything contained in the book, so thus the link to find the book yourself. Or you can use any plain oatmeal cookie recipe you already have (I can’t really see how it would make a difference). Now that the legalities are out-of-the-way…

Prepare oatmeal cookie mix. (should have a yield of about 30 cookies)

Add 2 teaspoons of Imitation Coconut Extract. (you could use real extract, but you will pay lots more for it & I can’t taste the difference in any recipe I’ve ever made)

Add about 1/2 a 7oz bag of shredded coconut.

Add 2 1/2 cup bags of chopped macadamia nuts. (I realize this is 1 cup, but they don’t sell 1 cup bags chopped & macadamia nuts are hard to chop nicely)

Add 12oz white chocolate chips.

Mix batter. It will look all chunky like this:Preheat oven to 375ᵒ F.

Prepare cookie sheet by wrapping it in tin foil, this will help with both clean up and even browning on your cookies.

Use a teaspoon, not an actual measuring spoon, but out of your silverware drawer, to make “large” (for the size of the spoon) drop cookies on the cookie sheet. They should have room all around them, like this:

Bake each sheet for about 7 minutes. Chips and nuts will brown slightly but the cookies will look almost underdone in the center.

If they look like that they are done, remove each immediately and place on cooling racks. (unless, of course, you are also cooking in a hotel room in which case apparently Formica countertops will do in a pinch)

Continue until all batter is delicious Fabulous cookies.

Let these cool completely before you box them up for later. They will keep for about 3 weeks in a container (like a cookie tin) right on your counter, which is why cookies are almost always the first thing this busy mom makes in preparation for a party.

Stay tuned: Next up is Volcanic Brownies!

On a very happy side note? My hotel room really does smell fabulous. Wish we have smell-o-vision so I could share it with you. But I have to go & hide these cookies from people who will “accidentally forget” that they are for Saturday not whenever I’m hungry… 😉

Visit the Luau party page for all the recipes and posts involved in this party!

A Cake Fit for a Princess

So It’s National Princess Week, how are you celebrating? Or are you anti-princess? Sorry, this is not some well thought out piece regarding the great princess debate. (maybe later…) This was just for fun. As we go through our first year together readers you will start to discover my quirk (for lack of a better term). I throw parties. Detailed, involved, themed parties. I don’t do it for money, I don’t do it to be a better mommy than someone who doesn’t (cause that seems less party & more lame to me but anyway…), I do it cause it’s fun, for me. It’s something I’m good at and enjoy the hell out of. With that established, RedBird & I were talking about birthday parties and cool things to do for them when I mentioned this cake. She told me how cool that would be and that she’d never had a princess cake. So what do I do? Silly, of course that you have to ask. RedBird turned 23 today & when she woke up there was a happy birthday text from me with the picture above in it. It was a good day, I think. She really seemed to be excited about her cake. Do you know a princess (you can be a princess at any age BTW) in your life that should get a princess cake? If you’d like to learn below are the basics (I even remembered to take pictures). I will say that the cake baking in the hotel was a unique experience, none of my usual baking tools, but I think it turned out pretty good, despite all that. And of course, it was fun, which is the whole point of any party IMO. Have fun & enjoy National Princess week everyone!

First you’ll need a cake princess. (I always look for one with similar features to the girl the cake is for like this strawberry blonde lady-RedBird has reddish-blonde hair as well)

Prepare a double batch of cake batter, of whatever you favorite flavor is. RedBird likes funfetti (add sprinkles to yellow cake). Bake in a bunt pan as normal. This wasn’t really normal for me thanks to the world’s tiniest oven. It just struck me as hilarious watching this double cake rising in this tiny oven, maybe it was because it was midnight. I just kept imagining the cake eating the oven in a B horror movie sort of way with the oven squeaking in terror over how intimidated it is of the funfetti-soon-to-be-princess cake… Maybe this is another quirk, I’ll put on the list of things to ponder at a later time (don’t laugh, I really do keep just such a list). So here is the cake intimidating the oven…

Moving on past my weird cake fantasies… Now you let the cake cool. Overnight. Have a glass of adult beverage. No, seriously tomorrow will have its stressful moments, so the drink is actually part or your instructions. Now, day 2 of Princess cake. First you need to protect your princess’s hair. Use the plastic she came in and a twist tie, fasten her hair up and position her arms above her head. Like so:Flip cake onto serving platter (top down). Fill center with frosting. Position plastic girl in center of cake. Walk away to let the frosting set a little bit before you do anything else.  It’ll look a bit like this: 

Now add a thick layer of frosting to her “skirt”. You want to avoid crumbs & this part is about covering, not looks. After the skirt is covered use a small spatula to frost the doll’s “top”. Smooth top into skirt & while being careful to not make the frosting too thin, spread it & smooth it so that it appears to start at her top and flow to the “floor” of her dress. Then leave her alone! This is a hard step to follow (thus the firm tone) walk away from the kitchen, the cake, get a drink on the way out & plan to not even look at the cake for at least 30 minutes. The frosting needs to set fairly well in order to decorate the dress. If you stay anywhere near the cake you will find yourself messing with it which will turn out bad (I promise).

Now that you’ve had a break, assemble your decorating tools. I like Wilton’s cookie icing (it hardens quickly which means less running & less mental breakdowns for Mommy), for this dress i also used Wilton’s decoration Pearls. Practice (& test for consistency) on a plate before you attack the cake.

Decorate as you see fit. You can also get more creative with this stage. Flowers, ribbons, stars, use your imagination. Also, keep in mind princesses don’t have to be pink (that is just RedBird’s fav color) she can be yellow, blue, purple, green, whatever you want. After everything is dry & set (usually overnight) take her “shower cap” off and bring her arms down. The important thing is to have fun making this cake & enjoying the smile on your princess’s face, be she 4 through 64. Happy Princess week!

And a very lovely RedBird in her birthday dress her hubby got her, demonstrating “princess” behavior….