A Rustic, Fairy Tale-Inspired Party

Overview

I was contacted by Lesley Stowe Fine Foods recently, and they wanted me to try out her Raincoast Crisps, a delicious cracker that comes in a variety of natural flavors. They looked so rustic and natural, but also fancy–I thought it would be the perfect thing for the Fairy Tale-inspired party I wanted to throw.

I wanted the vibe of the party to be fancy, yet whimsical. Rustic, yet magical. The type of party where you and your friends wear flowy dresses and wings and spend your time talking and singing while making flower crowns and small, delicious meals.

Food:

I wanted to showcase the raincoast crisps and create some fun pairings. These included:

Original Raincoast Crisps with white cheddar, prosciutto, and spinach

Sandwiches

Cranberry and Hazelnut Crisps with brie, honey, and a thin slice of a honey crisp apple

Main Dish

Oat and Rosemary Raisin Crisps–these were put out for those who wanted to try another flavor on its own, or for the gluten free folks. (I love that some of the crisps are gluten free and nut free!)

Crisps

I was concerned about finding fancy enough pairings for these crackers, but the ones I put together were actually very simple, and quite delicious! The original crisps acted like mini sandwiches with the spinach, cheese, and meat, and the cranberry crisps were sweet and refreshing with the brie, honey, and apple. I paired the snacks with loose leaf tea (because it was gorgeous and matched the tone of the party) and a pale ale (which Lesley Stowe recommends pairing with the Cranberry Hazelnut and Rosemary Raisin crisps).

Decor:

As mentioned above, I wanted to keep the atmosphere “rustic yet whimsical.” I decided to work with woods, greenery, and metallics for that magical touch. The greenery and table decor was accented with fairy tale books.

I purchased a light-up twig garland to place around the main dish, and placed candles around for a bit of extra twinkle. Silverware sets were tied up with some greenery and twine. (Plus, look at the silverware! Silver twigs! I’m obsessed.)

Silverware

You don’t have to spend a lot on flowers–a lot of baby’s breath can look really cool (and adds to the fairy feel). All of the flowers on the table were purchased for less than $10–just buy the items florists usually use as filler.

Baby's Breath

You can also use leafy greens and vegetables as decor in place of your flowers. This bunch of spinach wrapped in twine cost me less than $1.

Spinach

And, of course, show off your fairy tale collection. It’s decor and entertainment in one!

Magic of Fairy Tales

Activities:

As mentioned above, you can share your favorite fairy tales at the party. But here are a few more activity ideas to pair with your beautiful table full of food:

  • Host a creative writing session where everyone needs to create their own take on a classic fairy tale
  • Play “Werewolf
  • Make fairy wings and flower crowns
  • Marathon your favorite fairy tale movies
  • Host a “Once Upon a Time” or “Grimm” premiere party

What would you include in your Fairy Tale-themed party? And have you tried Raincoast Crisps? (Be on the lookout for more info from them as I meet Lesley Stowe in person in a week!)

I was provided compensation and product in exchange for this blog post. All thoughts, opinions, and ideas are my own.

Banana-na-na-na-na-na-na Cupcakes (Batman-Inspired Banana Cupcakes)

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Smart Balance.

Batman Cupcake

I’ve been wanting to make these cupcakes for a while. Like, almost a year. I love bananas and I love cheesy names, so I naturally had to make a “Banana-na-na-na-na-na-na Batman” cupcake. So when Smart Balance wanted me to try their new blended butter sticks in the place of recipes that normally use butter, I thought “this is my chance!”

I threw on the Bat Signal and got to work.

See, I’m lactose intolerant (as are many of my family and friends) and yet I still use butter when baking and make buttercream frosting by the boatloads. I just assumed there wasn’t a tasty option. I swapped my butter for Smart Balance sticks in the cupcake and the buttercream frosting, and was pleasantly surprised! The cupcakes turned out fluffy and delicious, and doesn’t taste any different than butter would make it. The buttercream frosting turned out as well! The only caveat is that Smart Balance sticks have salt in them, so if you use it for frosting, it’ll turn out a bit more salty than usual. But it would be perfect for a salted caramel buttercream!

Banana Cupcake

If you’re looking for a less fattening, less lactose-y alternative to butter, I’d definitely recommend the Smart Balance sticks. It’s a 1-1 substitution for butter in your recipe, and I doubt you’ll notice a difference in taste/usability. The sticks are a butter/canola oil blend with no trans fats, and a blend of other fats that helps absorb good cholesterol and block the bad kinds. Kinda like your own personal Batman. If trans fats and bad cholesterol were villains and Smart Balance was really rich and had cool weapons and spent a lot of time brooding… ok, maybe it’s not like Batman. Maybe I really just want to make this analogy work because I like the name of these cupcakes more than I probably should.

On to the recipe!

Banana(nananananana) Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 stick Smart Balance Blended Butter Stick (or 1 stick of salted butter)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (3-4 ripe bananas)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place 12 cupcake wrappers into a cupcake tin.

Mix flour, baking powder, and baking soda together. Set aside.

Cream butter and sugar together until well mixed and fluffy. Add mashed bananas, eggs, and vanilla to the butter and sugar. Mix together.

Add the mixed dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and stir until combined (be careful not to overmix!).

Spoon batter into the 12 cupcake cups evenly. (The batter will be thick–that’s fine!)

Bake for 22 minutes or until a toothpick goes in and out of a cupcake cleanly.

Let cool and enjoy!

These cupcakes are delicious on their own (like a banana bread-muffin-cupcake hybrid), but if you’re a frosting lover and/or want to make them more “Batman”-y, read on!

Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks Smart Balance Blended Butter Sticks (or 2 sticks unsalted butter)
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 TBS vanilla
  • 2 TBS milk
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • yellow food coloring (optional)

Directions:

Cream together the butter and powdered sugar. Add in vanilla and milk, mix until fluffy with an even consistency. If it’s too dry, add more milk 1 TBS at a time. If it’s too runny, add more powdered sugar.

Once it’s to your desired consistency, add in cinnamon and mix. Then add the yellow food coloring, a few drops at a time, until it’s the desired color. I used about 15 drops to get the bright yellow for my cupcakes. 

Frost your cupcakes!

Chocolate Batman Toppers

Finish your cupcakes off with these fun (and delicious) toppers!

Chocolate BatmanDirections:

Find a Batman symbol online and paste it multiple times to create a template sheet. Print the sheet out. 

Place the sheet on a baking sheet and place waxed paper over it.

Melt some chocolate chips in a bowl by microwaving for 30 seconds, mix. Microwave for 10 more seconds, mix.

Place melted chocolate into a frosting sleeve, and using a thin tip, trace the shapes on the wax paper. Fill in the shape.

Place tray of finished chocolate outlines into the fridge to cool and harden.

Carefully peel off the chocolate symbols and place (flat side up) onto the top of the cupcake.

Voila! a delicious banana cupcake ala Batman.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve substituted butter while baking, and how it worked out for you. Have you tried Smart Balance before? 

Smart Balance

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Smart Balance.
Tracking Pixel

Quick Holiday Recipe: Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

Planters Peanut Butter Balls

Around this time of year, my apartment goes missing and in its place is a workshop of chocolatey proportions. I have traditional holiday candies I make every year as well as some other basic treats to bring over to potlucks and parties, and any other homemade gifts Mr. Geek and I concoct. And while some of the candies and gifts are fairly tedious to make, there’s one that I love making over and over, and it’s these chocolate peanut butter balls.

I wish I could say the recipe has been passed down for generations, but in reality I found a magazine clipping years back and have made it my own since. These peanut butter balls are easy to make, take under an hour (plus some chill time in the fridge), and are absolutely delicious. I usually make way more than I actually need to give out, and steal some whenever I need a quick pick-me-up. So if you’re looking for a quick and delicious treat to make for the office party or need a creative and homemade gift for a friend or family member, don your apron and get ready to party. (Bonus: Kraft currently has a ton of coupons you can use at Target, and you can use them to save $1 off of the peanut butter used in the recipe!)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

Ingredients:

  • Approx. 4 cups Powdered Sugar
  • 2 sticks (8 oz.) Melted Butter
  • 1 cup (8 oz.) Planter’s Peanut Butter (I used creamy, but feel free to go wild with crunchy or one of their other flavors!)
  • 2 11.5 oz bags of Milk Chocolate Chips
  • Sprinkles (optional)

Directions:

In a large bowl, mix together the powdered sugar, melted butter, and peanut butter until smooth. Consistency should be almost play-doh like and easy to roll into a ball. If not, add more powdered sugar.

Roll the mixture into small, even balls (around the size of a large marble or gumball).

Melt the milk chocolate chips in a double boiler or by very carefully microwaving them in a bowl for 30 seconds at a time. Don’t burn the chocolate!

Dip the balls in the milk chocolate until they’re evenly coated and place on a wax paper-covered cookie sheet. Top the chocolate covered balls with some sprinkles if you’d like (I love the extra crunch and pop of color!), and then place in the fridge for around an hour to chill.

Package them up for your friends/parties before you eat them all yourself.

Or heck, just eat them all yourself.

What’s your go-to holiday treat?

From shopping for gifts to planning family dinners, it’s hard to keep up with all your holiday to-do’s. This year, Kraft is helping out with great weeknight meals and entertaining ideas to make the season a little bit easier. Plus, Kraft is offering up to $20 in coupons, redeemable exclusively at Target, to make food shopping easier and to help you have a happy holiday season.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Kraft. The opinions and text are all mine.

Sponsored Post: Win the Best Girls’ Night In with Lipton Iced Tea

girls night in
I am a huge fan of the girls’ night in. It gives us a chance to be silly, play games, watch old movies, stay up late talking, and not have to spend tons of money at bars. Basically, for an introvert with a lot of nerdy friends, it’s perfect.

I’ve watched old YouTube videos, played board games, and even actually talked about “feminine issues” and yogurt commercials. Seriously. Luckily, Lipton seems to get what us average geeky ladies want, and are ready to make our perfect “girls night in” come true. They’re currently running a contest to win a 60 inch LED HDTV, a blue-ray, an XBOX 360 Kinect bundle, Dance Central 3 for XBOX, and more. This would be more than I could even hope for for the perfect girls’ night–I would LOVE a larger TV and the newest Dance Central! And hey, after winning, you may as well re-hydrate after a giant Dance Central session with the new Lipton 100 Calorie Half and Half (Lemonade and Iced Tea) or Lipton Diet Green Tea Honey Ginseng. Need a bit of “jiggle juice” to get your dance on? I’d recommend adding a dash of honey whiskey or peach rum to your iced teas.

So make sure you enter the contest for the “Girls’ Night In” entertainment system. And then invite me. Please?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Lipton Iced Tea. The opinions and text are all mine.

Geek Fashion: HP Ultrabook™ Bag Contest

Incorporating fashion and personality with your technology is something that’s always been important to me. I can often be seen using a piece of tech that includes the same bright pink used on the Geeky Hostess site–whether it’s my phone case, my laptop case, or even my keyboard. This love of showing off my personality while I use everyday tech is what got me so excited about HP’s Ultrabook™ Bag Contest. Well, that and the fact that Project Runway’s Mondo designed some bags for them.

HP held a contest to find the perfect laptop bag–the one that shows off your personality, looks fashionable, and provides you with all the sweet tech you want. They’ve narrowed the selection down to 40 finalists, and it’s now up to us to choose. The winning designer will receive $10,000 and an HP Spectre XT Ultrabook™, Inspired by Intel. I sincerely hope they use the money to actually create their bag design, because I want ALL of them. Take a look at the finalists and vote for your favorite here.

Let me know in the comments–how do you show off your personality through your technology? And what would your dream laptop bag have? (Can mine have a built-in-charger? And a frosting dispenser?)

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Creamsicle Cocktail

Hoping to look a little more like C-3PO and a little less like R2-D2 this summer?

Then enjoy a low-calorie cocktail in place of those creamsicles you loved as a kid.

Ingredients:

1 part Orange Vodka
2 parts Whipped Cream Vodka
1.5 cups Orange Mango Cascade Ice 2 Calorie Water

Mix together in tall glass (with ice, if preferred). Garnish with an orange slice.

Not on a diet? Reduce the whipped cream vodka to one part, and add a scoop of your favorite vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt!

This recipe was created for Cascade Ice’s “Skinny Cocktail Creation” contest. Like what you see? Go to their Facebook page and vote for my drink! The winning blogger receives a cocktail party, and voters have a chance to win Cascade Ice as well. (And although I first tried it for this contest, I’ve gotta say… Cascade Ice is pretty good!)