Craft

Wilton Tour at BlogHer ’13

by Jennifer Wieland

I wanted to take this chance to talk about my Wilton tour in more detail. For those of you unfamiliar with Wilton, they are a company that has been around since 1929. They now teach people all over the world how to decorate cakes, cupcakes and other sweet treats. They also manufacture many baking, candy and sweet making foods and tools. Many people have taken their classes and I am happy to include myself amongst them.

The welcome sign with all of our blog logos.

The welcome sign with all of our blog logos.

For many of us bloggers who were invited it was very exciting to get the invite. Many of us were very familiar with Wilton and could not be more happy (or giddy with excitement like 5 year olds) to get a sneak peek inside their test kitchen and product development areas. Let me tell you, they did not disappoint any of us. It was truly an amazing experience and, let’s be honest, who doesn’t like being in a building where every square inch smells like cake? It smelled like my idea of heaven! (Yes, my idea of heaven is a bakery that has the best of the best and it all has ZERO calories!)

Me at Wilton headquarters

Me at Wilton headquarters

Our afternoon at Wilton consisted of lunch with a history of the company and a look at current and upcoming products. My favorite current products were the fun summer flavored candy melts and the Shape-N-Amaze Edible Decorating Dough. For anyone who has ever used the candy melts it is nice that Wilton is coming out with more and more seasonal flavors. We were able to try the Raspberry Sherbert, Key Lime Pie and Orange Créme Candy Melts. They were all good but the Raspberry Sherbert Candy Melts were my favorite. The Shape-N-Amaze Edible Decorating Dough is great! If any of you have ever worked in fondant to create cake toppers you know what a pain it can be. The Shape-N-Amaze Edible Decorating Dough is very easy to use, has some great tools you can purchase to work with it and best of all they have some great instructions online already. Honestly, with this anyone could make a cake that looks like it was done by a pro! The instructions are very visual versus wordy so you know how everything should look as you are doing it.

Raspberry Sherbert Candy Melts, Shape-N-Amaze Robot & my goodie bag.

Raspberry Sherbert Candy Melts, Shape-N-Amaze Robot & my goodie bag.

After checking out the new products we went to the product development kitchen and photography area. The product development area was fascinating to see them working on stuff for later this year and next year that is either being created or being decorated to be photographed for packaging or publication. It was interesting to learn all the steps they go through to say, make a new shaped cake pan. We also got to see some of the things being photographed for publication and watch the photo shoot. As someone who photographs food regularly I can tell you I was more than a little envious of their setup.

Next we headed over to the test kitchen where again I was a little envious. I mean really, who does not want a kitchen with eight stoves in it? There are three ladies who work in the test kitchen and I have to tell you a bit of a secret…. I really want one of their jobs. They are great though and do a ton of work testing everything to make sure things work and taste like they are supposed to each and every time.

Finally, we each got to pick two classes from a list of three. Our choices were Buttercream Decorating, 3D Modeling and Shhh, It’s a Secret. Since I had already been through three of the Wilton classes and am fairly proficient in buttercream I opted for the other two. The 3D modeling class was great! We used the Shape-N-Amaze Edible Decorating Dough to make Oliver the Owl. It was utterly adorable!.

3D Modeling Class

3D Modeling Class

Oliver the Owl Not to shabby for my first attempt.

Oliver the Owl
Not to shabby for my first attempt.

 

The other class I took you will have to wait to learn more about. You will find out more about in September when the new products are released. Let me tell you though that I am ridiculously excited about this! I can’t wait to make this at home and share it with you!

Buttercream Class

Buttercream Class

To close out the day we went to the Wilton School and Store. It was amazing to see some of the cakes that the students there have done! They are utter works of art and if I had made one I would never let anyone eat it. To much work and to pretty to ever meet up with a knife or mouth.

How amazing are these cakes? They were a couple of feet tall. Beautiful!

How amazing are these cakes? They were a couple of feet tall. Beautiful!

This day was just such an honor for me to get picked to go and to be in the company of so many great bloggers. I hope that Wilton invites me back again someday. If not I will make my annual visit to their annual tent sale (held in June) and shop until my little heart is content. You can ask my husband, he can totally vouch for how much I buy there.

The whole group of BlogHer '13 bloggers who attended the Wilton BlogHer Workshop 2013.

The whole group of BlogHer ’13 bloggers who attended the Wilton BlogHer Workshop 2013.

For any of you interested in learning some decorating techniques I totally recommend taking the classes. Especially, if you have kids. Those cakes from the bakeries can cost a small fortune! Check out the Wilton website for some great recipes, videos, how-to’s and ideas. You can follow Wilton Cake Decorating on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.


End of the School Year and Cookouts

by Jennifer Wieland

I know I have been majorly slacking here on the blog. Don’t worry though, I have been slacking everywhere in my life as well. It’s truly not that I am being lazy. I have been trying. It has just been really hard with so many family birthdays, the end of the school year and well I have been sick. I have been hanging out a great deal in doctor’s offices, hospitals and labs. It sucks and whatever is wrong with me leaves me barely functioning half the time. Hopefully, they get it all pieced together soon though so the kids have a somewhat enjoyable summer. I am having a good week so far this week and have been working on some things to get posted. With the explanations out-of-the-way. Let’s jump into what this post is all about.

The Christmas holiday and the end of the school year cause me to panic. You see my three youngest need gifts for school staff. This year one needed seven, one needed five and last needed three. They all have teachers, aides, therapists and social workers that need a treat for all they do but this year I wanted to be able to give the kids a chance to hand out a little something to their friends in class as a farewell. So I needed to come up with an inexpensive gift for their friends that was not just candy or something similar. I wanted it to be something they could use this summer to be creative. I got a really great deal on cases of construction paper earlier in the school year. So I still had a full case that hadn’t even been opened yet. I also had pencils that I got on clearance at Target for 75% off and 4 packs of crayons that came in an 8 pack for $2. I had to get some curling ribbon to assemble and had to create a cute little tag that I could attach to all of the gifts. The tags I made came out nice.

OwlYou can click the link below to get the printable version.

Owl Miss You Printable

Now that the kids are out of school and summer is fully upon us, I am going to take a break today from baking and head into the land of cooking. I love baking. It is a true joy to me. Cooking however, not so much. You see cooking is a mandatory chore. Which makes it work which means it is automatically less fun. I do however cook though because I must. I thought I would share two of my favorite recipes. One is for a pasta salad from Kraft that I have been making for years. When I go somewhere and ask if I can bring anything people always ask for this pasta salad and desserts. It is really yummy and different from standard ones as it uses tortellini for the pasta. I usually make it at least 4-6 hours in advance because it tastes better when the flavors have time to marry. The recipe can be found here on the Kraft website.

The other recipe I want to share with you is for my Italian chicken burgers. These are a nice addition to any cookout as they are not your standard fare. This is a burger made with ground chicken and topped with fresh mozzarella, marinara sauce and basil. While this is just as filling as a beef burger it is a lighter alternative.

Pasta Salad and Italian Chicken Burger

Italian Chicken Burger
makes four 1/4 burgers

1 lb. ground chicken
3/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp italian seasoning
1/2 tsp oregano
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
fresh mozzarella cheese
your favorite marinara sauce, heated
fresh basil, sliced into ribbons
4 buns/rolls, toasted

Preheat grill or grill pan.

In a large bowl combine the first six ingredients and mix using your hands. Form into four patties using your hands or a hamburger press. Cook burgers completely through, about 10-20 minutes. Cover them with a slice of fresh mozzarella cheese and allow to melt. Remove from grill or grill pan and place on bun. Top with marinara sauce and basil and enjoy.


A Superhero Party with Chocolate Cupcakes!

by Jennifer Wieland

Have you ever had one of those weeks where by the end of the week you just don’t know if you are going to make it? You know what I’m talking about. One of those weeks where you planned so many events, meetings and appointments that you have no idea what you were thinking at the time or when you thought you had become two people or if you were just so clueless and disorganized that you just didn’t realize the mess you had scheduled for yourself.

This past week I had two I.E.P. meetings for my two special guys and an awards luncheon for one and two doctors appointments for me. There was also a field trip to the beach and driving out to move the oldest home from college. (That was a whole day event.) Friday was my wedding anniversary and Saturday was Jackson’s 6th birthday, complete with Superhero birthday party with his friends. The week was non-stop crazy and to say that by Saturday I was a wreck pretty much sums it up only to have our central air go out and complete the whole wreck.

I was smart enough though to book our park district’s superhero birthday party for Jackson’s birthday. This meant I only had to make cupcakes, cupcake toppers, goodie bags and capes. There were going to be masks too but even I know my breaking point and there was just not enough time or energy for those. The goodie bags were just your standard, run-of-the-mill candy trinket filled bags. The capes were made out of felt, velcro and more felt. The cupcakes were chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and some super cute toppers.

The Super Birthday Boy

For the capes I had bought six different colors of felt. It was inexpensive with coupons for the craft store and gave the kids a nice dress-up thing to take home. The idea for them and the pattern I used came from the Jolly Mom blog. For the backs of the capes I just cut out stars and attached. The pattern and instructions can be found here.

Capes

My son Jackson’s favorite cake in the world is from a food chain in the Chicagoland area called Portillo’s. The cake is extremely popular and my mother used to buy whole cakes from there for family events. The cake is so popular in fact they actually make a chocolate cake shake there too. (Yes, a chocolate milkshake with cake mixed in it!) A year or so ago I embarked on a search to find out how to make this cake from scratch. I was able to locate the recipe. Imagine my surprise when I learned that it is just Betty Crocker box mix and frosting. Of course the recipe does not follow the box to a tee but it is a great cake and several moms at the party asked how to make it because they love Portillo’s cake.

Portillo's Cake Cupcakes

For the cupcake toppers I found these free printables that I customized on the Let’s Panic blog here. I just had them printed out on card stock at the office supply store and then attached them to colored, plastic toothpicks.

Portillo’s Chocolate Cake

1 Betty Crocker Super Moist Devil’s Food cake mix
3 lrg. eggs
1 c. water
1 c. mayonannaise (use regular, not light)
2 cans Betty Crocker Chocolate Frosting (original, not whipped or anything else)

Preheat oven to 350° and prepare pan(s).

Place cake mix, eggs, water & mayonnaise in a bowl and mix on medium speed for four minutes. Pour evenly into pans or fill cupcake liners 2/3 of the way full and bake according to package instructions.

Cool completely and then frost with thoroughly stirred frosting.


Dr. Seuss Thing 1 and Thing 2 Themed Twin Baby Shower

by Jennifer Wieland

I have not had much of a chance to post anything new because I had been working on my sister, Kim and brother-in-law, Sean’s bay shower for the twins they are expecting in a couple of months. Since it is twins and since they did not want to find out the gender of the babies I picked out a neutral theme that just screams twins to me. We went with a Thing 1 and Thing 2 theme. It turned out really cute and my sister and brother-in-law loved it which was the most important part.

My brother-in-law Sean and sister Kim. I know what you are thinking. She is tiny for having twins, but there are two in there.

My brother-in-law Sean and sister Kim. I know what you are thinking. She is tiny for having twins, but there are two in there.

For the games I tried to keep with the theme and make everything rhyme in Seuss style. One of the games was guessing how many gummy goldfish were in the fish bowl. Another game was guessing the cost of filling a diaper bag for twins. The final game is one that has not been one yet. The guests were asked to guess the arrival date, weight and genders of the babies. Whoever is closest will win a restaurant gift card.

Here is how the invitations and game cards I made came out.

Here is how the invitations and game cards I made came out.

For one of the decorations I did a clothesline that had Thing 1 and Thing 2 onesies with matching beanies hanging from it. For the centerpieces and some of the dessert table decorations I did Truffula tree inspired topiaries.

I did do a sweet table as well. It had desserts, candy, books, toys and topiaries. For the desserts there was a vanilla bean cake, vanilla bean and ganache macaroons, Mayer lemon ricotta pound cake with strawberries, iced vanilla cookies and red velvet cheesecake cookie bars. Over the course of the week I will be posting recipes that are new ones. Today I will be linking up to the topiary instructions and the lemon ricotta pound cake recipe.

Thing 1 & Thing 2 Dessert Table

Truffula Topiary instructions can be found here.

Meyer Lemon Ricotta Pound CakeThe recipe for the Lemon Ricotta Pound Cake can be found here. The only changes I made was to use Meyer lemons to cut some of the lemony flavor with the mandarin in the Meyer lemons. I also baked mine in a bundt pan rather than the called for loaf pan.


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