My Boss at work birthday passed a while back and unlike most bosses, she is an amazing human being who you can share and talk to about anything. She is one of those people that truly respects and appreciates the work you have done and just for that I took it upon myself to return some of this love and appreciation for having her in my life by throwing her a miny surprise party at work!
Considering that I’m managing work as well as studying in university and on top of that I write blogs it is quite hectic most days, but hey no challenge no change so always push your limits! Abit of shameless motivation there… anyways being my unlucky self, I had an exam the next day as well as an exam the day after so I started thinking of ways I could manage the food preparations for the party as well as my school life.
I started scripting down some Birthday party essentials such as :
- Something Salty
- Maybe something crispy
- Decorations (Not really food related but essential)
Then I proceeded to expand on this list by thinking of stuff that is easy and not time-consuming to make and being me means anything that I could make at home, has to be made at home!
A tip that helped me in the process is to go to a grocery store and to look at different aisles because most of the time under stress our brains get blocked and so you need to get inspired, so having a look around the store really helps.
Here is what I made:
- Funfetti Cupcakes
- Pastries – Stuffing included (Cheese, zaatar, Spicy salsa)
- A Basic Unicorn cake (I choose a unicorn cake, knowing it is harder than a regular cake to make because it represents her happy and bubbly personality)
- Stuffed Vine leave and zucchini
and I bought the drinks/ crisps!
The Pastries Preparation time- 1 hour
cooking Time – 20 -30 minutes
For the dough
DRY ingredients –
- 3 cups of all-purpose flour.
- 1 tablespoon of yeast
- 2 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoon za’atar
- 4 tsp of oregano
- 1/2 tsp of baking powder
- 1&1/2 tsp salt
Wet Ingredients –
- 1/4 cup of yogurt
- 1 cup of warm water
- 1/4 cup of vegetable oil
For the Fillings
Cheese filling –
- 1 cup of Feta cheese or white cheese
- 2 chopped tomatoes
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley
- 1/4 cup chopped onions
- 5 tablespoons of chili paste
- 2 tablespoon of ketchup
- 2 tablespoon of pepper puree
- 1 chopped tomato
- 1 chopped onion
Zaatar – This one is pretty basic all you need is a brush of olive oil and 1/2 cup of zaatar
- Mix all the dry ingredients well together in a bowl.
- Add the wet ingredients and whisk them on a low beat for 5 minutes
- Leave the dough for two hours to ferment and double in size.
- In three separate bowls mix up each filling ingredient together.
- Roll your dough until it is medium thickness, making sure you add flour on the surface you are rolling on to avoid the dough sticking. You don’t want your dough to be so thick as it would taste bready and you don’t want it to be too thin as it would turn biscuity.
- Using any cup of your preference cut the rolled out dough into circles.
- Preheat the oven to 350*c.
- Brush some olive oil on a tray. Place 2-3 teaspoons of filling on each cut piece of dough then add it to the tray.
- Bake for 20 – 30 min.
The Fun Fetti Cupcakes Preparation time- 15minutes
cooking time – 20-30 minutes
Decoration Time – 20 minutes
FOR THE CUPCAKES:
- 1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, melted
- 1 & 1/4 cups sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/2 cup Sprinkles
FOR THE FROSTING:
- 1 cup of unsalted butter, softened or Shortened vegetarian oil (Crisco)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 5 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1-2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
- A few drops of food coloring, ( I went for purple, Add up to 4 drops that should make the color very saturated)
- Additional Sprinkles, for decorating
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Spray a cupcake tray with butter or oil to avoid them sticking.
- Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
- Add melted butter to a large bowl and mix in sugar with a hand mixer for 30 seconds, until thick and yellow. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in vanilla extract.
- Add the flour mixture and milk to the batter made in the previous step. Stir in sprinkles.
- Divide batter among the tray holes, filling 2/3 full (about 4 tablespoons batter per cupcake). Bake for 15-20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.
- To make the frosting: Beat butter until creamy. Beat in salt and 1 cup of powdered sugar at a time until it’s all added. Beat in vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon of heavy whipping cream. Add more cream as needed for desired consistency.
- Frost cupcakes by placing frosting in a pastry bag. Then add the desired tip which gives pretty swirls. Add sprinkles for fun!
The Stuffed Vine leaves and Zucchini Preparation Time- 1 hour
cooking Time – 1 hour
- 1/2 kg of Grape leaves washed
- 10 Zucchinis
- 2 Cup Medium grain rice
- 2 Small onion diced
- 4 Tablespoons Olive oil
- 4 Medium tomatoes finely chopped
- 1 Cup Chopped parsley
- 2 Tablespoon Dried mint
- 4 Garlic cloves crushed
- 1 Lemon, squeezed
- 2 Teaspoon Salt
- 2 Cups Water
- 2 Teaspoon Salt
- 2 Tablespoons Olive oil
- 2 Lemon, squeezed
- In a bowl, mix the rice with the diced tomatoes, onions, parsley, mint and garlic.
- Add the squeezed lemon, olive oil, and salt to the mix.
- Start by preparing the zucchini. Cut off the zucchini stalks, then slice off the dried tips at the opposite ends.
- Carefully hollow out the zucchini from the stalk end by pushing and turning a zucchini corer into the flesh. The tool will remove thin fingers of flesh at a time; keep hallowing until you have a thin zucchini crust
- Stuff the zucchini ensuring that they are 3/4 filled, as the rice grows in size once cooked.
- For the vine leaves, Fold the bottom side of the leaf over.Start stuffing the leaves with the filling that was prepared as shown in the pic.Fold the sides of the leaf over the filling.
- Arrange the pot in the following order. start with a layer of sliced potatoes and then add the zucchinis and then finish it up with the grape leaves.
- Add the water, salt, olive oil and lemon juice and simmer the leaves slowly over a medium-low heat for about an hour.
- You can also try stuffing eggplants! Follow the same steps for the zucchini.
Lastly A basic Unicorn Cake Preparation time – 30 minutes
cooking Time – 45 minutes
decoration time – 30 minutes
- 2 cups white sugar
- 1& 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1& 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1&1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 1cup milk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1cup boiling water
I didn’t follow the basic fondant recipe as it takes approx a whole day to get ready and since I was tight on time I chose to use an easier fondant recipe.
- 2 bags of marshmallows (could vary depending on the size of your cake)
- 4 bags (8 cups) of Icing sugar
- 1/4 cup of water
- Preheat the oven to 350*C.
- Start by preparing the cake mix. In a bowl add the ingredients and beat them on low speed for 2 minutes (until the mix is smooth).
- Divide your cake mix into two small round oil glazed trays. Place the cake in the oven for 30 minutes or until you insert a toothpick through the center and it comes out clean. (I tend to use a heat spread belt around my trays as it ensures an equal division of heat and so the center gets cooked at the same rate as the edges)
- To make marshmallow fondant, place marshmallows and 2 tablespoons of water in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave 30 seconds on high; stir until mixed well. Continue microwaving 30 seconds more; stir again. Continue until melted.
- Place 3/4 of the icing sugar on top of the melted marshmallow mixture. Fold sugar into marshmallow mixture. Place solid vegetable shortening in the easily accessed bowl so you can reach into it with fingers as you are working. Grease hands and keep folding.
- Add additional icing sugar and re-greasing hands and counter so the fondant doesn’t stick. If the marshmallow fondant is tearing easily, it is too dry; add water (about 1/2 tablespoon at a time) until fondant forms a firm, smooth elastic ball that will stretch without tearing.
- Roll the fondant, on top of a wax paper, out to a size that covers the entire cake. keep some fondant on the side to be used for the unicorn horn.
- Remove the cake from the oven and leave aside to cool for 5 minutes.
- On a serving plate flip the first layer of cake and add a filling of your choice. I added whipped cream.
- Flip the second layer on top. You can cut, use a cake cutter, extra imbalances in the cake if any to ensure a flat top.
- Take the wax paper with the rolled fondant and flip it on top of the cake, proceed to smoothen the fondant out, use a spatula or a cake iron smoother. Then Gently remove the wax paper.
- To make the unicorn horn, you will need a food coloring of your choice and some fondant. Simply add a few drops of food coloring to your fondant and fold well until color is saturated.
- Start rolling the fondant into a rope-like shape. Don’t make it too thin as it will tear apart. Placing it in a U shape and take one side of the fondant to the other side and vice versa (in a criss-cross manner). If you wanna make it in an easier way, you can simply roll a thick piece of fondant in a way that it is thicker at the top than the bottom then use a knife cut diagonal slices (not too deep). You can then insert a stick in the center to hold the horn and then insert the other end into the cake.
- I tend to like to use a toothpick to sketch the design on my cake before inserting it as if you mess up most of the time there is no coming back!
- Now we have to add the unicorn ears. using a heart shaped cutter, I cut a heart from the rolled fondant and then cut it in half for the ears. Then using circular sprinkles I put in the eyes.
- I added a little cheeky element, my boss’s nickname, on the cake and this may have taken me away from the whole unicorn theme, but it was her birthday so yeah!
If I had more time to prepare I would have added some flowers made of frosting on top of the cake to make it more colorful.Always be creative with your cake decoration, have no limits, be spontaneous and add your own elements!
That is a wrap!
The main thing to say is with parties and gatherings, time management is key, so integrate the recipes, for example, you could always start preparing the dough for the pastries then move on to baking the cake and cupcakes. While these are taking place, start with the stuffed zucchini and vine leaves. I followed this plan and it took me around 5 hours and a half to finish up the food. It can get messy considering you are working on many stuff at the same time but a quote I love and can’t agree more with is ” A messy kitchen is a sign of happiness”.