Posts Tagged ‘party’

Sheriff Callie Sugar Cookies and Birthday Madness

Disney Junior's Sheriff Callie decorated sugar cookie - Sparky Horse

Disney Junior’s Sheriff Callie inspired these cookies – Callie’s trusty horse Sparky.

J celebrated her 4th birthday last week and along with it came the annual birthday bash. The past few years we had her party at our house which was fun as well as a ton of work. My child’s small birthday parties typically include 50 to 60 guests (adults and children).

So, in an effort to regain some my sanity, we outsourced her party to a local play gym. It was tons of fun for the kids and a lot less work for Curt and I. Of course, I still went overboard and made a photo collage, Sheriff Callie themed banner, centerpieces, and favors  which included a decorated sugar cookie that looked somewhat like Callie’s horse Sparky.


I put the Sparky Cookie in a plastic cup shaped like a cowboy boot. I pinned a sheriff badge with each child’s name to the boot.

If you’ve read any of my other recipe posts, I always include a reminder to use organic ingredients wherever possible. I do this with my cookies, except for the meringue powder and food color. This is the dichotomy of my cookies – organic cookie with tons of artificial food dye. Well, I don’t eat these everyday (and you shouldn’t either) so I have a clear conscious using Red Dye #40 (although there is no red in these cookies). You get my point.

Here are steps I took to make this cookie.

1. I made a batch of Sweetapolita’s Sugar Cookies. I have to make the batch in two parts because the entire recipe makes my stand mixer jump and sound like a steam engine. Then I cut the halves in half to make it easier to roll the dough. One full recipe gives me 4 discs of dough. I used three of these discs and froze one for later. Here is her recipe and steps for making the cookie pops. This time I actually made pops because I thought it was cute to have a “stick horse” for a cowgirl party. I alter her method slightly, so please check out my DIY Sugar Cookies post for my changes.


My stick horses – get it?! Until they were decorated they looked like dogs to me…I’m glad they ended up looked like horses.

2. While the cookies baked and cooled, I mixed up a batch of Bake at 350’s royal icing. I had lots of extra icing with her recipe, but I mixed most of it blue so I couldn’t save it. For these cookies, you will need a little white, a little brown, a lot of blue and a little black plus blue sanding sugar. I cheat and use premade black icing because it’s a lot easier. You need an obscene amount of black food color to make truly black icing. I baked the cookies and mixed the icing one evening after J went to bed and decorated the next two evenings.

3. Time to decorate! After you mix the blue, put some in a piping bag for the horse outline and thin the rest for flooding. I like to outline a few cookies at a time and then flood. I made roughly 24 cookies and left them overnight to dry.


I outlined each cookie in two sections. It was easiest to decorate with the cookie upside down because of the stick.



All outlined and ready for flooding. You can see I biffed the outline on one of the tails (lower right). Just wipe off the icing and start over. The flood covers up the mistake!



New to flooding? Fill the center of the cookie and then use a toothpick to spread the icing until it touches the outline.



I wish royal icing dried shiny. I’ve experimented with other icing, but overall I like royal icing best.

4. Once the cookies are dry it’s time for the details. I piped Sparky’s bridle with a #2 round tip but skipped his saddle. I also skipped making his hooves. It would have been easy to do, but required a darker blue color. I was lazy and didn’t want to pipe and flood such a tiny amount of color. After the bridle I made the white part of his eye with a #6 round tip. Use a slightly wet finger to push down on the white icing to flatten it out.


Zombie horses! I use lollipop sticks instead of cookie sticks. They are slightly smaller in diameter and easier to use.

5. After the bridle and eye detail, I added blue sanding sugar to the mane and tail. The bridle and eye on the first cookie you decorated should be dry enough that the sugar won’t stick to those areas. I used a mixture of equal parts meringue powder and water to mix the “glue” for the sanding sugar. Use a small paint brush and wet the mane and tail area. I use Bake at 350’s anal retentive technique for sanding — sprinkle sanding sugar onto the cookie while holding it over a coffee filter (clean, of course). Use the filter as a funnel to pour unused sugar back into your sprinkling container. Use a toothpick to remove any stray pieces of sugar.


Down the homestretch, just need to add pupils. (Bad horse racing pun totally intended.)

6. After the mane and tail have been sparkled, add the black pupil to the eye. I used my #2 tip again to make a tiny dot on the white icing. I flattened it with a slightly wet finger.


Time to bag and tag!

7. Let dry a few hours or overnight again before bagging. Since the cookies have a nice layer of icing on top of them, they won’t dry out, even with being uncovered for two consecutive evenings.


Tailgate Shrimp – A Little Spice Is Nice


Spicy Tailgate Shrimp tastes good even when you’re not standing in a parking lot. You don’t even need a plate – a toothpick works just great!

It’s been almost 24 hours since I watched my Oregon Ducks facepalm at the College Football National Championship. There’s always next year, right? Sigh.

The night started out with high hopes and lots of yummy food at my friend’s house. My contribution to the spread was Spicy Tailgate Shrimp. It’s a make-ahead dish that is portable, cooks quickly and is a crowd pleaser.

My first taste of this shrimp was several years ago at one of the Chargers home games, where the tailgate was often the highlight of the day. A dear friend came up with this recipe and quickly rattled off a list of ingredients which I promptly forgot (I’ll blame the beer) and then tried to remember much later when I made the dish.

This is a perfect dish to make for the upcoming Superbowl or any other pot-luck type event. It would also be delicious over linguine or rice for a main dish.

The shrimp can be cooked on a barbecue, in the oven or on the stove top so pick your poison. It’s versatile.

After a few variations on ingredients, I’m finally satisfied with the recipe listed below.

Warning: here comes my “know your food” rant…Let’s talk shrimp. Or actually not. I get really grossed out when I think about foreign shrimp farms. Read this article if you want to know more. This is a more helpful article that breaks down what type of shrimp to buy. I buy wild caught shrimp from the U.S. and rarely eat shrimp when I’m at a restaurant unless I know its origin.

Back to my delicious recipe now that you’re thoroughly grossed out.


I prefer shell-on shrimp but if you want to make this recipe even quicker, get peeled and deveined shrimp. Don’t buy the pre-cooked ones!

Clean your shrimp if you buy them with the shell on. If they are already shell-less and deveined rinse them under cold water and let them drain while you prepare the other ingredients. I buy 26/30s or 31/40s. We’re going for a hefty bite-size here. Any bigger and it’s awkward and any smaller is just silly. WTF am I talking about? Read this for shrimp sizing because jumbo shrimp is just an oxymoron and you can’t eat those.

Chop a crap load of fresh garlic and gather up your olive oil and dried seasonings. There are a lot so make sure you have them all: cayenne, red pepper flakes, paprika, old bay, onion powder, salt and pepper. Yep, that’s it for prep. Told ya it’s quick.

Put your clean shrimp in a bowl and add all of the ingredients on top. Now, if you like less heat, decrease the cayenne by half. Add more cayenne if you like it hotter. The amount I’ve included in this recipe was consumed by a room full of white people so you can guess that it’s got just a little kick but not that much.


Stir it up.Shrimp-Stirred

Dump it into a zip top bag and refrigerate for at least two hours or up to 24 hours. I set mine in the 8 x 8 foil pan that I’ll use to cook the shrimp.Shrimp-Baggy

When you’re ready to cook the shrimp you have several options as I mentioned. Regardless of the method, remember that shrimp cook quickly!  It will take roughly 10 minutes for any method. They have their own built in thermometers so once they are opaque (not see through) then they’re done. If you’re taking this to a tailgate, put the “shrimp on the barbie” (in the foil pan) on medium low heat. Put them in a 425°F oven or on medium heat if using a stove top (put them in a saute pan, not the foil pan). After a few minutes, check on them and stir them to ensure even cooking.

Once cooked, squeeze fresh lemon juice over the top and dig in. I’ve always eaten them with a toothpick



Spicy Tailgate Shrimp
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A quick and easy make-ahead appetizer for tailgating, summer barbecues or any party!
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Serves: 8 - 10 servings
  • 2 lbs wild-caught shrimp, cleaned
  • ⅓ to ½ cup organic olive oil (use your judgement...if the shrimp look dry use more)
  • 3 tbsp chopped organic garlic (about 6 cloves) - or more if you like garlic
  • 1 tbsp old bay seasoning
  • 1 tsp organic paprika
  • ½ tsp organic onion powder
  • ½ tsp organic red pepper flakes (add more or less to adjust intensity)
  • ¼ tsp organic cayenne (add more or less to adjust intensity)
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ¾ tsp organic black pepper
  • 1 organic lemon, juiced
  1. Clean and rinse shrimp.
  2. Add shrimp and all ingredients except the lemon to a bowl.
  3. Stir thoroughly and add olive oil if it looks dry.
  4. Refrigerate for 2 - 24 hours.
  5. Cook in a foil pan on the barbecue or in the oven. Use a saute pan if cooking on the stove.
  6. Add lemon juice to the shrimp after they are cooked.


Pumpkin Pie Minis Recipe…Because Everything Is Adorable When It’s Bite-Sized

This is Bakerella’s picture – not mine!! Beautiful pumpkin shaped mini-pies.

It’s fall (well, not quite here in Southern California, so let’s just pretend) and you know what that means…pumpkin time!! J was nagging at me a couple weeks ago to make her a pumpkin pie. She’s not yet four so cut her some slack. (Spend some time with a preschooler and you’ll understand Freud’s concept of “id”…they’re walking talking examples of this!) Not wanting to cook an entire pumpkin pie, I started searching for alternative recipes and found Bakerella’s Pumpkin Pie Bites recipe. My first attempt was ho-hum but my next attempt was a winner! I tweaked it slightly and the recipe is listed below. I incorporated it into my Halloween Party spread and I may even make them for Thanksgiving. Although, Curt says he prefers traditional pie, so we’ll see.

Of course, I didn’t take any pictures of my pies so you’ll just have to use your imagination and reference Bakerella’s page until I make them again.

In all of my cooking, I use organic ingredients whenever possible, but you can also swap for the conventional counterpart.

Pumpkin Pie Minis


Pie dough – enough for one covered pie (2 crusts). I made mine from scratch, but you can also use pre-made refrigerated dough.

8 oz organic cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup organic sugar
14 oz (1 can) organic canned pumpkin (*sooooo…I just noticed that Bakerella’s recipe doesn’t say 1 CAN, it says 1 CUP…well, mine are real pumpkin-y!)
3 organic eggs
1 teaspoon organic vanilla
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
3″ round cookie cutter

Whipped Cream (I stabilize mine for displaying at parties)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.
Use the cookie cutter to cut 24 discs (12 from each pie crust). If using refrigerated dough, you will need to roll the dough thinner than it comes out of the package.
Press dough into a 24 cup mini muffin tray. Make sure there is a little bit of dough overlapping outside of each pie. It makes it easier to get them out of the muffin tin.
Brush egg white from one egg to the top edges of each pie. (I didn’t do this and my pies didn’t get that nicely browned hue. They still tasted great!)
Mix cream cheese and sugar together until well-blended. If you don’t do this, you’ll have little white blobs of cream cheese throughout the filling.
Add canned pumpkin, remaining 2 eggs, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice together until thoroughly combined.
Spoon mixture into each pie crust.
Bake for 15 – 18 minutes.
Remove pies to cool.

Once cooled, it’s a little tricky to get them out of the muffin tin. I wiggled the edges of the crust and used a very small spatula to remove the pies. (It was the spatula that came with my mini-Cuisinart.)

Add whipped cream to each pie just before serving, or if you want to do ahead, use stabilized whipped cream. I put mine in a zip top bag and cut a small hole in the corner so I could pipe a circle on top of each pie.

Makes 24 pies. Keep refrigerated.


Halloween Tricks & Treats – Party Food

Boo Sign

Boo SignSo the past few years I’ve hosted a Halloween party for kids and adults. Last year I sort of went all out and made a crazy amount of Pinterest inspired food. This year I added a few new items and made many of the popular items from the previous year. I’ve learned a few tricks along the way so I thought I would share them.

Here is the menu: (Each link takes you to another site with the recipe or my own post with the recipe and my tips.)

  • Chips & Salsa (no need for a recipe here…open a bag of chips and a jar of your favorite salsa)
  • Guacamole Pumpkin – make your favorite guacamole or buy it. Carve out a small pumpkin.
    Guacamole Pumpkin
  • Cheese broomsticks *TRICK – use a semi-soft cheese like harvarti or mozzerella. I tried it with cheddar and it wouldn’t roll around the pretzel. It was too hard and broke into pieces.Halloween Cheese Broomsticks
  • Deviled Eggs w/black olive spiders – make deviled eggs with your favorite recipe then cut whole olives in half for the body and smaller slivers for the legs. These can be made a day ahead (the eggs can even be boiled a few days ahead). *TRICK – use medium or large olives. I’ve used large the last two times I’ve made them and next year I will try medium because the “bodies” are almost as big as the yolk.Deviled Spider Eggs
  • Tangerines with celery stems – Peel tangerines and stick a small “stem” of celery on top.Tangerine Pumpkins Banana Ghosts
  • Banana Ghosts – Peel banana, cut in half, add two mini-chocolate chips for eyes
  • Hot Dog Mummies – Use your favorite hot dog (I use veggie dogs). Cut dog in half, wrap a strip of crescent roll dough around it. These can be made ahead and placed on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350° until the dough is brown, about 15 minutes.Hot Dog Mummies
  • Pasta Salad – So many recipes…mine includes marinated artichoke hearts, red pepper, red onion, bocconcini (small fresh mozzerella balls), olive and Halloween pasta shapes bought from World Market. For dressing I use olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt pepper and some mayo. This can be made a day or two ahead. The longer it sits, the better it tastes!
  • Rice Krispy Treats – Cut the treats into small squares, then drizzle orange and white Candy Melts over the top and add orange, black and white sprinkles. Michael’s usually has them on sale around Halloween and if you use a coupon you can save even more.
  • Pumpkin Pie Bites – Based on Bakerella’s recipe with a few tweaks and tricks.
  • Cheddar Bunnies – I like Annie’s Organic Cheddar Snack Bunnies.
  • Pretzels – use your leftovers from the broomsticks
  • Mac N Cheese – I made two boxes for the kids to eat. I should have made three.
  • Halloween Candy

In addition to all that food, I also go crazy and make decorated sugar cookies. These are definitely make-aheads and will stay fresh for over a week as long as they are stored in an air-tight container or packaged individually.

Halloween Spider Cookies 2014

This Year’s Party Favor for Adults – 2014

Halloween Spider Cookies 2013

Last Year’s Party Favor for Adults – 2013

Up next: Halloween Tricks & Treats – Costumes


Fitbit One
The product names and logos shown on this site are the trademarks of their respective owners.