Archive for the ‘food/recipes’ Category

the rainbow birthday party: part two

When we were thinking about what food to have at the party, my kids and I made a list of all the rainbow colors and the foods that matched. Turns out an assortment of rainbow foods makes for a pretty fantastic sandwich. So we had salami sandwiches, fruit, and chips. And I bought some grape jelly for pb&js too.  My daughter wanted to know where the blueberries were, but they are very much out of season and at 4$ for half a pint I opted for blue chips instead, which are pretty much purple. Oh well. You try and think of a blue food that isn’t jello.

So the food was easy, the cake on the other hand was a pain the in ass, but I knew it was going to be.  The cake is what started the whole rainbow thing in the first place, so we had to have it. My daughter was sitting next to me while I was on the computer one day and spied this rainbow cake. That was sometime in the summer and she has been talking about it ever since.

So I knew I had to make a six layer cake filled with buttercream and covered with piles of fluffy white frosting.  I’m sure she must have told her friends she was having a rainbow cake, but it looked like a plain old white cake, so I’m guessing they just didn’t believe her. But when we cut the first piece everyone lit up. And it was an awesome surprise–sort of like a cake pinata (except this is a cake pinata–do not let your children see this, or you will be cursing me the night before their birthday).

If the cake weren’t a rainbow honestly it wouldn’t be a very good cake. It’s tastes a little like a wet sponge, but you are eating a rainbow so your brain tells you it tastes like a rainbow. It’s virtue lies in it’s dye-ability,if I were to make it again (ha) I would use a different recipe. The frosting is a swiss meringue buttercream with some lemon flavoring thrown it. The recipe calls for an obscene amount of butter. I used less than half and it was delicious.

For the favors we made rainbow glitter playdough. After cranking out six batches of playdough I can make it at the drop of a hat now. Why I didn’t make a big batch and split it 6 ways, I don’t know. Whatever, it’s a good recipe for a mom to have memorized anyway. We packed it in jars and I wrote the guest’s names on paper rainbows for the top. Luckily my daughter got an awesome playdough kit for a present, because I forgot to make any playdough for us.

There were definitely a lot of projects for the party, but my kids helped with all of them and none were really all that complicated. I’m not usually an all out crazy birthday party mom (or at least I didn’t think I was), but I had fun with all the projects. And the anticipation make the actual day even better I think. But rainbow fever has not abated–my daughter now wants me to make her a rainbow costume for halloween. Any ideas?

the rainbow birthday party: part one

rainbow cupcakes

We had the much anticipated rainbow party this weekend and with barely any melt downs from the birthday girl, so I say it was a success! These cupcakes aren’t from the party, but don’t worry there will be much party posting this week. I made them on her actual birthday and I was pretty excited that they worked out. I made plain old chocolate cupcakes and some cream cheese frosting. Then I painted the inside of a pastry bag with stripes of food coloring going up the bag from the tip and carefully spooned the frosting into the bag. When I piped the frosting on, voila! rainbows! Just like a unicorn pooping, or do they barf rainbows? Whatever they do, one came and did it all over my house.  And I’ll show you tomorrow.

learning to sew and french macarons


Soozs had a fantastic post last week about learning to sew. Among other things, she talks about how frustrating it is, but how with every mistake you make you are learning how to do something and how not to do something.  I remember screaming at the sewing machine when I first learned how to sew and there are still moments when I find myself swearing at the machine, or the fabric, or myself. Learning anything is frustrating as hell (just ask my 4 year old) but I think sewing has taught me to be patient with myself. So yesterday, when I was trying to make french macarons and failing miserably I went back to her post and read it again.


I used to make these cookies a lot when I worked in a bakery, but I had a professional oven and vats of ingredients and a huuuge dishwasher at my disposal.  I have none of that here.  My oven is very old and very crappy. These cookies are ridiculously delicate and difficult to make–they even have their own verb in french that describes the way you mix the batter.  So my day was spent failing (and eating my failures–sugar high! sugar high!).  But thanks to Soozs’ pep talk, I ended up with a few good batches.


And after a few more failures I now have a lovely platter of french macarons to take to a baby shower tonight.


Do go over to Soozs’ blog and read her post on learning to sew, even if you learned a long time ago.  And if you’ve joined the Kid Clothes Challenge (and yay there are so many of you already!) or are thinking about it jump over to this post about sewing for your kids on Indietutes because it’s pretty good too.  Now I’m going to see if there are any failures for me to snack on.

chocolate cherry oatmeal cookies

I bought the Liberty of London cookie jar from target for my mom’s birthday. I also picked up a kid’s sundress while I was there solely for the fabric, but now a little bird tells me they will be selling cotton curtain panels (aka straight up yardage) sometime soon!

Now you can’t just give someone a cookie jar and not put cookies in it, so I made some chocolate cherry oatmeal cookies and damn if they weren’t pretty good.  Dried cherries are dear, but they are so, so good. Raisins would work, but then they would just be oatmeal raisin cookies and that’s no fun.

Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal Cookies


  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 tea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups oats
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • 3.5  ounces good dark chocolate, coarsely chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream the butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg and mix on high speed to combine. Then add the vanilla.
  3. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Add the flour mixture to the mixer (make sure it’s on low) and mix just until combined. Add the oats, cherries, and chocolate and mix by hand.
  4. Spoon heaping tablespoons full of dough, a couple inches apart, onto a lined baking sheet.
  5. Bake cookies until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Cool and give away or keep them all for yourself.

tutorials and tarts

This tart was delicious. That said, I don’t recommend actually making it, unless you have all day to make a tart. I saw the recipe here, thought, “that looks lovely and hey, I have some pears,” but then didn’t really read the directions. If I had I would have discovered that there were three parts that all required separate making, baking, cooling times before you put them all together and bake it again. I made it for a potluck so I fudged a bunch of steps because it had to be done right! now! but it still came out pretty good. And really you can’t loose with almond cream. I could eat it raw for breakfast and be happy.

My half eaten gingerbread man had a nice little shout out from Jess at howaboutorange and tons of people download the pattern because of it. To date, it’s been downloaded over 2500 times! Damn! So I thought it was about time that I started an elsiemarley flickr group. I love seeing the things people have made from my tutorials–you might recognize the string of lights advent calendar above from last year–and I thought there should be a place to share them with everyone.  So go to the group and join and show us all the awesomeness you’ve made.