Fourth of July Flag Cake & Outfit Ideas

 

Happy Monday all! With July 4th just two days away, I wanted to post one of my favorite and festive desserts in honor of the holiday, as well as a couple of cute outfit ideas for watching the fireworks.

I can’t say enough fabulous things about this cake courtesy of chef and hostess extraordinaire, Ina Garten. The bejeweled berry design is such a show stopper and the combination of the airy cake, creamy icing and fresh berries is absolutely delicious. Ina has done it yet again! You could easily make and decorate this dessert the day before and serve it on the 4th, or make it for any summer party. I actually baked this cake a couple of weeks ago for some close friends, and both the kids and adults enjoyed every last bite. Yum!

As for Independence Day attire, because it’s always fun to dress in patriotic colors on this special day, I love this dress and these sandals for casual look, as well as these jeans and this top would be darling for evening. This bathing suit would be cute for the 4th too, especially paired with some fun sunglasses and denim shorts.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy 4th of July!

 

Flag Cake 

For the Cake

9 Tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 1/2 Cups sugar
3 Eggs, room temperature
1/2 Cup sour cream, room temperature
3/4 Teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
3 Tablespoons corn starch
1/2 Teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 Teaspoon baking soda

For the Icing

16 Tablespoons (8 oz./two sticks) butter, room temperature
1 1/2 Cups (24 oz.) cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 Teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 Cups confectioners sugar

For the Decorating

1 Pint blueberries
2 Pints raspberries

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a rectangular cake pan.

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high-speed, until light and fluffy. Lower the speed to medium, and add the eggs, one at a time. Next, add then add the sour cream and vanilla. Be sure to scrape down the sides  of the bowl and stir the batter until smooth.

Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda in a bowl. Turn the mixer to low-speed, and add the flour mixture to  until just combined. Try not to over mix! Pour the batter into the buttered pan, and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake the cake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool the cake to room temperature.

For the icing, mix until smooth the butter, cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

Spread three-fourths of the icing on the top of the cooled sheet cake. Fill the upper left corner with blueberries (to resemble a flag). Place 2 rows of raspberries across the top of the cake like a red stripe, and put the remaining icing in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip (or you can make your own pastry bag by using a large ziplock bag and cutting the tip) and pipe two rows of white stripes below the raspberries. Alternate rows of raspberries and icing until the flag is finished.

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Spring Table Settings To Recreate

Today I took the boys for a walk in our neighborhood, and from the 70 degree temps to the blue skies and sunshine, to the light breeze, we were enveloped in spring and loving every minute. G snacked on peanut butter crackers and soaked up the scenery while C fell asleep in the stroller, and I enjoyed the serene sound all parents appreciate – peace and quiet! 🙂

Something about the spring/summer inspires me to start entertaining again – perhaps its the ease of grilling a fabulous dinner and having friends over to swim, or it might even be the lovely daylight savings – and this year is no exception. Thanks to our two sweet boys, our version of entertaining has become much more low-key, and honestly I love it. Being a California girl, I’m inherently quite casual, and while I adore dressing up or go to a fancy party, I’m happiest in a casual atmosphere. I even dress casual – athleisure when I’m chasing after the boys on a daily basis, or jeans and blouse or casual dress (most likely blue and white!) if I want to dress up a little – done and done!

I’m looking forward to hosting friends soon, and of course it has me thinking about table settings and decor. Any guess what the color scheme will be? Likely blue and white! My go-to setting recently has been these gold placemats and blue and white napkins, and I’d love to find some neat votives to add to our collection. These napkins are on my wish list too. As for cuisine for upcoming spring and summer entertaining, I can’t wait to make this peach and raspberry crisp served with barbecued chicken, grilled corn and salad.

To help inspire you and any entertaining you have up your sleeve, here are a few colorful and crisp table settings that could  be recreated. I especially love the second image – the vibrant red and purple flowers mixed with the casual blue and white checkered cloth creates a simple and stylish look perfect for warm weather entertaining. You could easily recreate this by using a similar table cloth, white napkins, and fresh flowers in your favorite vase – voila and cheers to spring entertaining!

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Valentine’s Day Recipe: Heart Tarts

 

Valentine’s Day is a fabulous excuse to bake to your hearts content, from pink sprinkle cookies to red velvet cupcakes to chocolate truffles to strawberry pies. What better way to say ‘I love you!’ than with a homemade sweet treat! One of our favorite activities to do as a family is bake, and so we’ve had fun this month making all kinds of desserts. We even decorated Valentine’s Day cookies with C’s preschool class at a local bakery a couple of weeks ago, and the kids had a ball. They frosted X’s O’s, and hearts with pink and red icing and then covered the cookies in sugary sprinkles and conversation heart candies – yum!

We decided to make rich chocolate brownies on Valentine’s Day, and so I thought a lighter treat would be perfect for this past weekend. While perusing our favorite Weelicious for some healthy lunch ideas for the boys, I spotted a raspberry cream cheese tart recipe that fit the bill – what’s not to love about individual heart tarts? I made a couple small modifications to the recipe, and they turned out beautifully! Here is the recipe, and I hope you enjoy them as much as we have!

 

Heart Tarts 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup raspberries
  • 1/4 cup whipped cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 packages of puff pastry or 1 double pie crust
  • Water
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

 

Instructions 

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.

2. Place the raspberries, cream cheese and honey in a small mixing bowl. Using a fork, gently mash the raspberries and mix them with the cream cheese and honey.

3. Roll the puff pastry (or pie crust) 1/4 inch thick. Use a large heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut out hearts. You need two hearts per tart.

4. Set half of the hearts on a lightly floured work surface. Place 1-2 teaspoons of the raspberry and cream cheese mixture in the center of each heart (*you can add more or less of the raspberry cream cheese mixture depending upon how big your tarts are). Be sure to leave a 1/4″ border around the cut-out.

5. Next, brush the border of the hearts with the water, and then gently top each with another heart. Use a fork to press down along the edges sealing the tarts shut. With a toothpick, poke a few holes in the top of each tart so the air can escape when they bake.

7. Transfer the tarts to the baking sheet, and bake them for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

8. After the tarts have cooled, dust them with powdered sugar and enjoy!