Food & Cooking · Party

Beer Mug Pretzel DIY

IMG_1261When I was planning my Oktoberfest Party, I scoured the web for fun ideas. I was quite surprised that there wasn’t a whole lot out there for decor and party ideas, so I ended up figuring out a lot of it on my own. One fun idea I did come across was for beer mug pretzels, but I could only find a picture without instructions or more information. Thus, I bring you today: an easy tutorial!

You will need:

*Pretzel Rods
*Mini Pretzels
*Chocolate and White Chocolate Candy Coating
*White Pearl-Shaped Sprinkles
*Food ColoringIMG_1259Start out with a pound or so of chocolate candy coating (depending on how many beer mug pretzels you want to make). Melt the candy according to the directions, and then coat about 2/3 of each pretzel rod. Let the candy harden on parchment paper while you prepare your remaining ingredients.IMG_1260Next pour some of your sprinkles into a bowl so it’s easy to dip your pretzels, and break “handles” off of your mini pretzels. Then melt your white chocolate (you won’t need nearly as much white chocolate as you only put a little on the pretzels). Add food coloring until the “beer” is the color you like. Coat a small portion of the chocolate-covered end of your pretzel rods with the “beer,” and then dip the top in the white sprinkles to make foam. Lastly, add a mini pretzel handle, dipping the handle in a little of your “beer” to help it stay on if necessary.

IMG_1266Let your beer mug pretzels dry on parchment paper or upright in a cup, and then enjoy! I think these could be great for all kinds of parties–perhaps even a tailgating party! What are some of your fun party treat ideas?

xx Caitlyn

P.S. I’ve started one of my thrift store challenge projects, and I am getting super excited! To give you a hint, it has involved a lot of sanding so far! Can’t wait to hear more about what you’ve been coming up with!

Food & Cooking · Monday Matters

Annual Bake-Off

This past Saturday we hosted this year’s annual Bake-Off, using the occasion to have a housewarming party as well. Before the party started, we prepared some fruit, cheese, sausage, crackers and nuts on the table, along with utensils, plates, and napkins, etc.

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We also set up an area with coffee, hot water and tea, wine, soda, and punch. The temperature outside was just perfect for leaving the beer to stay cold on our back porch 🙂

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I adapted an easy Dreamsicle Punch recipe I saw to make a pink version more fitting for the Valentine’s weekend. Just combine a quart of Raspberry sherbet, a quart of vanilla ice cream, a liter of sprite or 7-up, and a can of cream soda to recreate this simple punch yourself. We added some sliced strawberries for extra decoration.

20140217-194910.jpgAs guests started arriving, our table started filling up with more and more delicious baked treats. Chocolate seemed to be in everyone’s dish this year, and everything was so decadent!

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I made a Nutella Strawberry Tart, but I was worried there wouldn’t be enough for everyone, so I made extra filling and made mini versions in phyllo dough as well.

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My friend Kara made some dense pumpkin muffins with whipped cream topping.

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A friend of the family made this chocolate cake with almond slivers. So pretty and delicious!

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My friend Caitlin made this lovely cake with cocoa and coffee flavors. Such nice presentation (and, once again, so yummy!).

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On this plate you can see a slice of the tart, a slice of the chocolate cake with almond slivers, and a slice of a fantastic Guiness Chocolate cake that I unfortunately didn’t get a full picture of (however, many of us teasingly compared its appearance to that cake in the movie Matilda). I can neither confirm nor deny tasting some of EVERYTHING.

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My sister-in-law Ariel took this picture showing my mother-in-law’s awesome French Vanilla Cherry Cream Puffs with Chocolate Ganache alongside my tart.

20140217-195004.jpgAbove you can see Ariel’s very popular Samoa Brownies.

20140217-195016.jpgI didn’t manage to take many pictures aside from ones involving all of the pretty treats, but Ariel took this nice one of my friend Tia and I giggling in our sugar comas.

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She also took this one of my brother-in-law, who was dealing with his sugar coma by passing out on the floor.

There were so many fantastic baked goods this year that voting was as difficult as ever. In the end it came to a very close match between the mini Nutella Strawberry Tarts and the Cream Puffs. We’re still working on some of the leftovers–thank goodness everyone took a little “variety” plate home! I’m already looking forward to next year 🙂

What are some baked treats you’d like to try showing off at a party sometime?

Food & Cooking · Monday Matters

Bachelorette Parties & Wrapping Paper

On Saturday one of my friends had a bachelorette party, and for dinner we tried an Asian cuisine restaurant called Fuji Yama. The restaurant had Thai food, Vietnamese food, and of course, Japanese food! I was really excited.

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I ordered a beer right away, hoping Asahi was on draft, but settling for Sapporo instead. Then I had the hard choice between eating Thai Prawn Green Curry or Tempura, ultimately going with the tempura.

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Some things I was surprised about:

1.) The waiter brought out the miso soup that came with my meal about 5-10 minutes before bringing out the rest of the meal. In Japan, the miso soup is enjoyed at the same time, creating a nice balance of alternating bites of the dish, rice, and a slurp of soup. I waited for the rest of my meal and felt a little sad as my soup got cold.

2.) The serving size was huge! I think there was probably three times as much tempura as you would get in a typical tempura set in Japan (not that I’m complaining). I couldn’t finish it, though it was delicious.

3.) There were some interesting veggie tempura choices that I never had in Japan–namely broccoli and carrot. I did like them, however, and was happy to try them! Does anyone know if that’s an Americanized version of the veggie tempura, or if you can have that in Japan, too?

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After dinner, we headed back to my friends house for some of the typical bachelorette party games. One of them required each of the ladies to buy the bride-to-be a pair of panties so that she could guess who they were from. Earlier in the day, I went to a department store to pick some up, and was surprised that there wasn’t any tissue paper at the register to wrap panties! (The cashier was clever enough to go pull some tissue out of a nearby folded shirt.) In Japan, pretty much no matter where you go, there is an option to have things gift wrapped. You can generally choose between a couple types of wrapping paper or bags, ribbons and/or seals. Everything is wrapped very precisely and beautifully, as presentation is very important in Japan.

I found this lovely tutorial (pictured below) on wrapping in the style of Japanese department stores, and am looking forward to trying it next time I need to wrap something!

I have enjoyed looking through the blog that posted the tutorial with the picture abovethe blogger lived in Japan for a while, too!

Do you have any interesting or fun ideas for wrapping gifts? I also really like this idea for using confetti, and this one for using newspaper!