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!

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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. *

Variations:

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!

Games for a Luau (that don’t embarrass 14 year old girls… too much)

I always come up with games and activities to go along with party themes. This has always been pretty easy because little kids will try any party game. (No really, tell them it’s a party game & they’ll clean the yard no foolin’) We have played “Villain Bowling” in which you bowl over the villains from classic Batman cartoons at a Batman party, We have played “Tombstone Obstacle Course”, “Hot, Rotten Pumpkin” (12 year-old boys are fun!), “Halloween Charades”, and more for Halloween parties (BoyChild I’s Bday is at the end of October), “UnBirthday Musical Chairs” (think Alice in Wonderland Mad Hatter Tea Party w/ 3-year-old girls in Tiaras) at a Tea party, “Treasure hunt for pirate booty” (I.e. stuff for goodie bags) at a pirate party, I could list the silliness that we have enjoyed till the cows came home… (Although I just got an idea for a farm party, gotta write that down) However each year there is some little chink in the party planning armor. One year it was “Mom I want a Haunted House birthday cake” “Sure, that’ll be easy I’ll use the big rectangle pan…” “No up and down, you know 3 D”… (My kids have more faith in my abilities than I do & for the record I actually made/destroyed/repaired/made again that cake three times. *shudder* Another year it was the pirate treasure chest piñata whose side kept falling before its paper mache dried. *sigh* This year’s cravat came, not in the form of skill lacking or material malfunction, it came in the form of my first (and often still worst) critic, GirlChild, aka a soon-to-be-14-year-old-girl. If you’ve ever been a 14-year-old girl (or just been around one) you may see where I’m going with this. The explicit (not swear words-go look up what that word means kiddo) instructions I was given were, “Mom, whatever, just please try not to embarrass me.” Ouch. Pretty sure my inner teenager was all “What?! She wouldn’t know what cool was if it bit her on the f@#*%@# a#*!” (My inner teen has a potty mouth, she & inner bar fly hang out too much, bad influence & all). “Who does she come to for hair/clothes help?!” Then I calmed the hell down and remembered that I’m 31 & she’s 14, so I got over it. (It’s been a while since I gave a flying f what a 14 year-old thought about how cool I was, or anyone that matter)So, really had to rack my brain for Luau activities that were age appropriate (i.e. no drinking), inexpensive (mostly free), and not embarrassing to my daughter…

I know, you already came up with Limbo, too. And I found a bamboo stick in someone I knows yard, so we could have an authentic nod to our game. However, that game is only fun for a little while.

So I came up with Hula Dancer Relay Race! What fantastic, family fun is this you say? 🙂 I know you aren’t that excited but I’ll share anyway. You remember how relay races work right? 2 teams, 1/2 of each team stood at the opposite end of the gym from the other 1/2 of their team, they had a baton or some such and you ran to the other side, passed to your teammate, they ran across the gym, passed, back and forth until every body on the team had a go, first team to get through all members wins. Okay, so same concept except, outside and instead of a baton, a hula dancer costume. (Imagine Dollar Store Coconut Bra, Grass skirt, and Lei) All I can say is too funny! The winning team got flip-flop key rings. (I use the “goodie bag” toys as prizes for games & then they take home a goodie bag of their winnings)

Then I made a Corn-hole board that looked (kinda) like a tiki face. (the eyes & mouth are the holes) This is just a piece of plywood with paint, but fun, if you aren’t familiar with the game, try here. I should also give a special shout out to my Brother for owning a saw & cutting the lovely openings for me (thanks dude!!).

I found (Also at the Dollar Store) wooden unpainted signs that look like surf boards and boat paddles & say things “Surf’s Up” and “Chill”, you get the idea. I let the kids paint these as well. (& them take them home for their mothers to deal with wet paint and all… wahahahaha)

I gathered a Luau soundtrack for the party, one was an actual Luau CD, the others were my Beach Boys Greatest Hits & An edited Jimmy Buffett CD (gotta keep some of Jimmy away from 14-year-olds) We played the music throughout the party. I also had a whole mess of water balloons set aside in case it was hot & we ran out of stuff to do.

Unfortunately, we live in North Carolina. Which means the first week of May could be anywhere from 90 degrees, sunny and humid to 50 degrees with torrential rain. Wanna guess what our weather was like that afternoon? Yeah, we ended up being inside the hotel instead of outside, so our games were stunted, at best. Everybody seemed to have fun, and most importantly no children were embarrassed in the making of this party.

*A side note: I liked this party so much, I will be doing it again in July for my birthday & GirlChild is looking forward to getting to play the games “for real”. I will update you after, maybe with pictures…*

 

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!