Friday, January 27, 2012

Birthday Party Centerpiece: Candy Dipped Cones

Birthday centerpiece filled with Elise's favorite candies

About two seconds after I came across this idea for Christmas cones filled with candy and hung from a Christmas tree, I saw the potential to adapt it for any occasion. Dip the edges in white chocolate, then red and pink sprinkles and fill with Conversation Hearts for Valentine's Day, jelly beans for Easter, red, white and blue M&Ms for Fourth of July...

The only issue was how to hang the cones. Obviously not from a Christmas tree, but I thought one of those wire cupcake holders could work, inserting a big waffle cone into each opening. The only problem was that Target didn't have any, so we ended up tying the cones to my jewelry holder.

We put these on the dining room table and the guests at Elise's birthday party loved the unique (and tasty!) centerpiece.

Birthday Candy Cones
1 box sugar cones (waffle or regular size, depending on your holder)
White chocolate chips
Sprinkles in your choice of color
Thin ribbon (we used curling ribbon but if I had been up for a trip to Michaels I'd have bought some thin fabric ribbon)
Bamboo skewers
Assorted small candies

This project is really easy--the only tricky part is getting holes drilled through the side of the cones without cracking them. After some trial and error, I put a tiny drop of water where I wanted the hole and let it soak in. Then I used a bamboo skewer and gently pushed it while twisting until it broke through.

Melt about 1 cup of white chocolate chips with a Tablespoon or so of cooking oil. Dip the top edges of the cones in...

...then immediately roll them in a bowl of sprinkles.

Insert a skewer all the way through the cone and hang them inside a drinking glass to dry. Thread the ribbon through and tie knots inside the cone.

Hang and fill--super fun, super easy, yum yum!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Party Decorating on a Budget

Happy 13th birthday Elise! An occasion this big calls for a big party, so that's what we did. My next several posts will be on things we did for the event.

First: decorating the house. It really needs to look like a party, but decorations can get expensive quickly. We rely on crepe streamers and balloons to create the atmosphere for under $10. If you are all high falutin' and need everything to look Martha Stewart-ish, this is not the DIY for you. Our parties are very homemade (read: crooked, mismatched) and the kids are in charge of where things go and what colors to use.

Usually we put up the streamers in the usual way but this year Max had the idea to hang them across all the doorways like a curtain. (I think his motivation was to be able to climb the ladder.) Except for a strand of clear mini lights that we forgot to put in the attic with the rest of the Christmas stuff, balloons were the only other thing we used to decorate.

These balloon strands are a great way to save money on helium balloons, which are pretty costly for the few hours they last. You can either hang the strands across a doorway (or room if you've got the time), or just hang them from the ceiling. They make a huge impact either way.

To make the balloon strand:

1. Cut a piece of curling ribbon (the cheap stuff from the dollar store) a few feet longer than you want your strand to be.

2. Make a loose half knot and tie it tightly around the inflated balloon.

3. Make another loose half knot a few inches down the ribbon and tie another balloon on. Repeat.

Pretty simple. The closer you tie the balloons together, the fuller the strand will look.

Ready to party!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Thousand Words: Disappointment

All Max wanted for Christmas this year was a coconut. For months we had been watching Survivor and they are always hacking them open and drinking the milk out of the shell. So when he found one under the Christmas tree, he was ecstatic. We went to the back yard, hit it with a hammer, and he took a gulp.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Pumpkin Bread

I have had a can of pumpkin in my pantry since before Thanksgiving. I planned to make an extra pie to surprise my son Sean since it's his favorite, but it never happened. Don't tell Sean. So, on my mission to use the stuff that's been sitting in my pantry forever (which I plan to make a new recurring theme in This is Beige), I went searching for a good way to use it.

My friend Google informed me that pumpkin is very low in calories, but incredibly rich in poly-phenolic antioxidants like leutin, xanthins and carotenesa. OMG! My new year's resolution is to eat more leutin, xanthins, and carotenesa, but then again, whose isn't?

I found this good-looking yam bread recipe in my trusty Bread Machine Magic cookbook. I changed the ingredients kind of a lot (which makes it my own recipe now, right?), increasing the milk, substituting pumpkin for the yams, cutting the butter down and adding peanut butter, and also including some whole wheat flour to boost the fiber a little more. This is more of a sandwich type of bread, not cakey like banana bread. It would be good toasted with some cream cheese or jam for breakfast.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Bread (loosely based on I Yam What I Yam Bread from the Bread Machine Magic cookbook)
2/3 cup milk
1 egg
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup peanut butter
2 cups white bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/3 cup mini marshmallows
1 1/2 tsp. yeast
Put all ingredients in bread machine on dough cycle. Transfer dough to a bread-sized loaf pan and cook at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. Makes a 1 1/2 lb. loaf.

Janet's Notes: The kids ate this bread like there was no tomorrow. I planned to toast it and spread it with some cream cheese or jam but they ate it straight off the loaf. No butter, no nothing. I thought the marshmallows would stay chunky, like chocolate chips, but they melted away in the dough and just added a little more sweetness.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Back in Beige

Oh how I have missed my little blog. Trying to write 5 posts a week, keep up with a small business, and have three restless kids home on summer break became too much for me and something had to give. Since the blog was the low man on the totem pole, so to speak, I took a break from it in August.

But every few days or so, I'd see/make/cook something that I would think, "I have to blog about that" but then remembered I was now blogless. The other day I was waxing nostalgic about
This is Beige when my daughter, in her infinite 13-year-old wisdom, said, "Why don't you just blog when you want to?"

Huh. Is that an option? You mean that a blog that has no sponsors, and doesn't pay, and that I am in full control of, can actually be on my terms? My daughter is a freakin' genius.

This is Beige is back. On a regular-ish basis. So check in every few days or so, or sign up to receive my posts via email (there's a spot to sign up over there--->, in the right hand column) and thank you to all you nice people who said, "Hey, how come you're not blogging anymore?" and made me rethink my decision.