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August 30, 2013

Game Day Cupcakes | Tiger Stripe Cupcakes + How-To Video

Mike and I both are proud alumni of The University of Missouri - Mizzou or MU, to the locals.  This time of year always gets our tiger spirit going - I'm snatching up every black and gold item at J.Crew and I'm thinking of fun ways to bring a tiger flare to our Game Day entertaining.

If you do an online search for Tiger Stripe Cupcakes you'll find a slew of pastry chef creations that look remarkably perfect.  I can definitely appreciate those sort of confections, but my style is more "festive" than perfect.  

On this blog I try to present ideas that will delight your guests... and that are simple enough that you'll actually be able to do it!  These cupcakes are a perfect example of that.  Since the Hydrangea Cupcake Video was such a hit, I've included a video with instructions for making these cupcakes.

I have them pictured here with my "Mizzou Gold" Metallic Celebration Candles ($10.50) to make them even more festive.

I packed these up as a hostess gift for a friend of ours - they are boxed in one of my kraft paper cupcake boxes (10 for $12).

I tied the "Mizzou Gold" Metallic Celebration Candles on top...

and added a Circle Label (48 for $12), of course.

Buttercream Frosting :

2 sticks of butter, softened
4 cups of confectioners sugar
1 tsp of vanilla

In the kitchen aid fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the butter and sugar together for 5 minutes until it has transformed into a white fluffy frosting.  Add vanilla.

To make the perfect Mizzou Gold I added a lot of yellow, a little red and tiny bit of blue.  In the photo, it was my first round of color - I ended up adding about 4x's that to get a deep color.

Note : the color will deepen after about 20 minutes.

For the cupcakes, I used my favorite jumbo (but still fit in a standard cupcake pan) brown cupcake liners and a chocolate cake mix.

For the layer of gold frosting, I used another one of my essentials - a disposable pastry bag.  No tip necessary... just snip off the tip with a pair of scissors.

Pipe a layer of frosting on each cupcake.

The video below will show you my technique.  It really is so much easier than spreading it on with a knife - once you do it a couple of times, you'll see it is so fast.

After piping, I smooth the swirl with a knife so the chocolate stripes will go on easily.

For the chocolate stripes, I melted 1/4 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips with 1 tablespoon of cream in the microwave for 20 seconds.


Fun and festive Tiger Stripes ready for the weekend!

Products used : 

August 29, 2013

Pico de Gallo

Sometimes it is best to keep it simple...  Fabulous on tacos, enchiladas, a chip, steak nachos, etc.

Pico de Gallo
serves a crowd

3 large tomatoes, diced
1 white onion, diced
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon (or more) sea salt

Combine tomatoes, onion and cilantro in a medium bowl.  Squeeze in fresh lime juice and salt.  Toss. 

August 28, 2013

Oven-Baked Steak Nachos | Game Day Favorites

The secret to great looking party food is abundance.  When I'm putting together a platter of any kind (even at a casual gameday party), I try to make it as abundant as possible.  I know there are a lot of trends that present food in minimal style, but that goes against the way we inherently think about (and crave) food.  I always want our guests to feel like they've been invited to indulge in an endless buffet of tempting treats - and the best way to do this is with full, bountiful platters of beautiful food.

Yep, I'm talking about Nachos.  I know, a pretty fancy intro to one of the most basic appetizers of all time.  However, I think most people forget about fixing nachos at home.  They are the perfect bountiful looking appetizer to put out for a game day party... and verrrry simple.

That's what entertaining is all about, right?  Easy food that everyone loves... and whether or not we want to admit it - we all love a huge pile of nachos.  It might not be a slow-roasted beef tenderloin, but it is still an indulgence.

I make mine in layers so each chip is covered with melted cheese (one of Mike's requests), and then I top it with sliced steak, black beans and more cheese, then bake it in the oven.  Finally, I top it with homemade pico, sweet corn and cilantro to add a fresh (I won't kid myself and say healthy...) element.  

Steak Nachos
serves a crowd

New! Printable Recipes, here.

1/2 lb. Steak
Taco/Baja/Fajita Seasoning
1 bag of tortilla chips
Cheddar Cheese
Monterey Jack Cheese
Black Beans
Fresh Corn
Pico de Gallo (recipe here)
Green Onions

Coat the steak in seasoning.  Grill until medium rare - about 3 minutes on each side.  Let rest for 5 minutes, then slice thinly.

First layer of chips.

Layer of shredded cheese.

Second layer of chips + Monterey Jack Cheese.

Black Beans

Cheddar Cheese

Sliced Steak

This is a perfect medium rare - you can use flank steak, strip or sirloin.  Just slice it as thin as you can so it is easy to eat.

Pop it a 350 degree the oven for 10 minutes to melt the cheese.

Then top with the pico de gallo (recipe, here, but you can also use store-bought) and sweet corn.  For the corn, I just cut kernels off of the ears of corn - no cooking necessary.

Add fresh cilantro and sliced green onions for extra freshness.

Deee-lissssh-usssh, as Emma would say. 

August 26, 2013

Game Day! Tailgate Party Recipes & Decor Ideas

I'm re-posting this from two years ago - I set this party up in our backyard at our house in Concord, Ma. (if you're new, you can read about our journey there and back, here).  Rarely do I look back at older posts and still like the photos, but this one I still love.  I think I was a little homesick for game days at our Alma Mater, that designing this inspiration party made me feel a little bit like I was there.  We've been back "home" for a year now (almost exactly) and in typical fashion, I'm starting to get an itch for New England again.  I've got my sights set on another Fall Foliage trip back to visit.

This week we'll be doing some more of my Game Day favorites - ideas that are good for watch parties and tailgates.  There might some oven-baked Steak Nachos in our future... stay tuned!


'Tis the season for... tailgating!  Game Day is a big occasion among my college friends and our families.  When we were in college, our Game Days started early in the morning with Hammers at Harpo's (Go Mizzou!) and ended up having dinner (breakfast?) at an all night diner.  We hopped from tailgate to tailgate, then bar to bar - we didn't have a care in the world, nor did we know who won the game.

Now-a-days, we actually go into the stadium for games to, gasp, watch the game, and see the Game Days as a time to catch up with college buddies to talk about the glory days.  Our tailgates are more focused on food and catching up than the keg... most of the time.  

There is nothing better than starting off a crisp Fall day by staking your claim in a soon-to-be packed parking lot, hanging your flag, starting the grill and pouring Bloody Marys.  Game Day is an excuse to graze all day long - it is never too early in the day for whoopie pies, chips, dogs or a cold beer. 

I've put together a Game Day Party Menu that will be perfect for the parking lot or at your home for a TV watch party.

Game Day Menu : 
On the Road or at Home

Pulled Pork Sliders
Creamy Spinach with Tortilla Chips
Pigs in a Blanket with Mustard Dipping Sauce
Football Whoopie Pies
Pumpkin Beers

Spinach Dip is a Game Day classic - great hot or cold!  Creamy Spinach Dip Recipe >>

Pulled Pork Sliders - gotta have meat at any Game Day feast.  Pulled Pork Recipe >>


Classic Pigs in a Blanket - an oldie, but a goodie!  Pigs in a Blanket Recipe >>

Whoopie Pies shaped like Footballs - so easy and made from a cake mix.  Football Whoopies Recipe >>

Pumpkin Beers are perfect for Fall

Bring along some seasonal pumpkins and gourds to add to the festivities.

I made this pennant from scraps of fabric and paper attached to a grosgrain ribbon.  This decoration can be used year after year - I made one to hang on our mantle during our game day parties, too.  

Instead of a table cloth, I used a plaid throw that featured our teams colors - blankets work great for casual throws for tailgating.  Make sure they are washable!

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