Magic Mike Ladies’ Night Party

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Three years ago I won a giveaway from a local movie theater and the prize was a wall-sized vinyl poster from the first Magic Mike movie. It was huge and unwieldy, but it also had nearly life-sized, half naked actors on it, so I thought the best use for it would be to put it up temporarily for a Magic Mike themed party. That party always hung on the back of my mind, but I never went through with it. Then Magic Mike XXL (the sequel) came out, and I knew now was the chance to have that party. So for the release of MM XXL on dvd, I held a Magic Mike Ladies’ Night party, and it was fantastic. We watched both Magic Mike movies, had snacks, played games, and had tons of fun.

As I do for many of my theme parties, I scour the internet for fun ideas. There weren’t very many Magic Mike parties to look at, though, which might have been a good thing, because it forced me to be more creative. I did come across some fun sweets online that would be awesome for a Magic Mike party, so I stepped out of my comfort zone of cupcakes and tried some royal-icing-topped cookies and a cake that was decorated with more than just a little frosting.

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The first thing I wanted to make for the party were these awesome, funny Chippendales dancer-themed torso cookies from The Adventures of Sweet Sugarbelle. I’ve always wanted to learn how to make royal icing and the techniques for icing cookies, but it always looked like a lot of work. Turns out it is, but the results are pretty fun. I didn’t use Sweet Sugarbelle’s icing recipe though, because I forgot to get some of the ingredients, and just went with a simple recipe from Alton Brown instead. It uses raw egg whites though, so you will want to use pasteurized eggs.

magicmikecookiesMy cookies are far from perfect, but I think they looked pretty cute anyway. Not sure how soon I’ll try cookie icing again though. It was more work than I realized!

I couldn’t just have cookies at this party though. One bachelorette party idea I saw pop up in my search was a male stripper cake. That would be perfect at a Magic Mike party, I thought, so I collected some easy materials (Ken doll and a wooden dowel) and affixed them to the top of a three layered chocolate and pumpkin cake. I thought three layers was probably best to give the dowel enough of a foundation to support the doll. To decorate the doll, I made him a little thong, bow tie, and cuffs from some felt and ribbon and printed out some tiny dollar bills to stuff in his undies. I threw a few dollar bills on top of the cake too, but they ended up being camouflaged since I made the cake almost the same color as the money. Oops!

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The “stage” background wasn’t necessary, but the cake looked a bit boring without it. I covered a weighted box in a blue plastic tablecloth, tri-folded a large gold metallic piece of card stock, and decorated it with two fancy balloon weights, two flashlights, and a Magic Mike sign that I made. The tablecloth, card stock, balloon weights, and flashlights all came from a dollar store.

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The party wasn’t all sweets though. I had Pink Panty Dropper punch, (Magic) Mike’s Hard Lemonade, a popcorn bar, and pizza. What’s a movie night without popcorn and pizza?!

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Decorations included leopard print and black tablecloths, gold metallic fringe curtains, black fringe table skirt, the Magic Mike poster I showed you above, and a handmade garland of men’s thongs and bow ties! I made the garland myself. I found a package of thongs at Kmart and a few bow ties in the current Halloween costume section of a dollar store. I sewed them together, but you could hot glue as well if you don’t plan on using the bow ties or thongs again. Decorate it with some ribbon if you want to fancy it up a little. I used animal print ribbon.

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After each movie, we played some Magic Mike themed games. One game I came up with was called Strip Trivia. Usually when you play a game with stripping the players have to strip, but in my game, the players got to take off a paper doll’s clothes! Except for the male body image, I hand drew all of the clothing pieces for the game.  To play the game, I asked my guests trivia questions about the movie we just watched and who ever answered first correctly, got to remove an article of clothing. The first person to remove all clothing won a prize.

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The other game we played I have dubbed Place the Kiss on Mike’s Magic. It’s basically Pin the Tail on the Donkey for adults! I found the game in the bachelorette section of a party store and pasted a picture of Channing Tatum over the face to make it a little more Magic Mike themed. It was popular.

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The party was a total success and I got to introduce the awesomeness of Magic Mike to a handful of my friends! This type of party would be fun for any time of year whether you just want to get the girls together, have some drinks and (respectfully) ogle some grown men or if you are throwing a bachelorette party.

Have you ever seen the Magic Mike movies or had a girls’ night in or adult sleepover party before? I’d love to hear some of your experiences or ideas for this type of party.

 

***I was not asked or compensated to mention any brand names in this post. Any brands that I specified are only included to help you find certain materials I used to put on this party.*** 

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The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook: Just in Time for the Finale! #review #giveaway

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I don’t know about you, but I’ve been a Mad Men fan for years. As difficult of a time as the 1960s (and now ’70s) were, Mad Men has always made this decade seem so sexy and cool. I’ve had a long time love affair with mid-century decor and watching Mad Men is like TV porn for me.  The costumes are so specific and structured, the sets are so stylistic and unique, and although the food of the ’60s isn’t featured on the show as much (outside of alcohol, so, so much alcohol), the food of the ’60s was also very interesting.

When I find a cookbook from this era, I get really excited. The colorful, yet desaturated photography of the time made the food look almost plastic, and in some cases unappetizing, but I still feel a sort of whimsy when I see the recipes from so long ago.

One book that captures both the recipes of the time and the show Mad Men is The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook: Inside the Kitchens, Bars, and Restaurants of Mad Men by Judy Gelman and Peter Zheutlin. This book delves into the food and drink that appears on the show. Featuring recipes from some of the restaurants and bars mentioned on Mad Men, and cookbooks of the time, The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook gives us a nice sample of of the cocktails, entrees, and desserts of the ’60s. Many of the recipes are paired with a show reference, history of the dish, or a suggestion for a character from the show. This is a cookbook that informs you of the past while teaching you the recipes. I love that!

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While there is a lovely section of full-color pictures from some select recipes, this cookbook is more focused on print information than photographs of the final products. What that means is the book is packed with more than 70 recipes that represent mid-century eating and drinking and the stories that go with them. Speaking of drinking, over 25 of those recipes are cocktails alone, which isn’t a surprise when you consider alcohol is one of the most consistently prevalent things on Mad Men.

One of the recipes I tried from the cookbook was the Manhattan. I love Old Fashioned cocktails, just as Don Draper does, but since I’ve had those before, I decided to try the Manhattan. It’s a similar cocktail, using whiskey and bitters, but with less ingredients and not nearly as sweet.

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 Manhattan

  • 2 ounces rye whiskey
  • 1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 2-3 dashes of Angostura bitters
  • Maraschino cherry, for garnish

Pour whiskey, vermouth, and bitters into a mixing glass with ice cubes. Stir well.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the cherry.

**recipe reprinted with permission


This version of the cocktail is from the Oak Bar on Central Park South in New York where Don and Roger Sterling stop for an after-work drink in season 1 episode 7.  One thing that makes this cookbook unique, especially for a Mad Men fan, is that it points you to the episode that the drink or dish appeared, or could have appeared, in the show.

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Cherry Amaretto Cordial Cake Hearts

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Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and one thing that goes well with romantic holidays is chocolate and alcohol. These take a day or two to prep for, so if you want to make them for Valentine’s Day this year, better get to it (okay, okay, it’s my fault I didn’t get these posted sooner)! You can make them for any time of the year though so don’t fret if you don’t have time to do them this week.

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There are a few things you’ll need to make these. You’ll need a silicone mold of some kind that has slightly deep wells (I used a heart treat mold), some melting chocolates in your favorite colors or flavors, chocolate cake mix, canned frosting, maraschino cherries, cherry topping, pie filling or cherry jelly, and some amaretto.

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The amaretto doesn’t have to be the expensive kind. I got the cheaper stuff and it worked well for this recipe. For the cherries I chose maraschino cherries because they are bright and sweet. Fresh cherries could work too, but would change the flavor a bit. The cherry topping I found actually tasted more like fresh cherries and was dark in color but it went great with all of the other ingredients.

The first thing you want to do, is pull the maraschino cherries out of their syrup, drain, and dry them a bit. I just rolled them around in a couple paper towels. Pop them into an empty jar and pour the amaretto over them. Let them soak for 24-48 hours.

On the day you make the treats, bake the chocolate cake first and let it cool. While it cools, make your cherry sauce by adding 1/4 cup of cherry topping (strained of fruit pieces) with 1/4 cup of amaretto, set aside. If you’d like to omit the alcohol, don’t soak the cherries in it and only use the cherry topping for the sauce. If you’re using cherry jelly and need to thin it a bit, mix a little cherry syrup into it instead of amaretto.

Prepare your silicone mold by melting the chocolate/candy melts and coating just the bottom and sides of each heart well. The back of a spoon and a pastry brush helped me get it covered. Make sure there are no holes! Freeze the mold for 5 minutes. I suggest placing the mold on a baking sheet to keep it from bending.

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Once the cake is cool, crumble it up in a bowl and mix in 1/2 cup of frosting until it is completely combined. It should have a consistency of clay. It’s a messy job, but I like to mix it with my hands, I find it easier to combine this way.

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Duff Goldman Holly Jolly Cake with Holiday Frosting {Review and Giveaway}

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I hope by now you’ve read and entered my other Duff Goldman review and giveaway for a box of Chocolate Snowball cookie mix (it ends today!), but I have another treat for you provided by Duff Goldman by Gartner Studios. I have the opportunity to review another product from the Duff Goldman holiday line and give away a package of the same products I’m reviewing!

Today’s product is the Duff Goldman by Gartner Studios Holly Jolly Cake Mix and Holiday Frosting. The first thing that caught my eye about this product was how vibrant the colors of the cake were. It’s very festive. I also liked that the frosting looked really white. I hoped that the product lived up to these expectations.

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The products are described by the company as “layers of holiday colors to dazzle the eye, and moist, delicious flavors to tempt the taste buds” with a “decadent” frosting. I hoped this description wouldn’t be setting me up for disappointment.

The first thing that was a plus is that the food coloring gels that come with the cake mix do actually get the batter pretty close to the red and green in the picture! So even if this cake wasn’t any good, I had a feeling it would still look pretty cool.

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I was a little bummed that I wouldn’t be able to do the 4 layer cake, because I didn’t have the right sized pans. The box suggests two 8in round cake pans so that each cake can be cut in half for the layers, and 9in pans (which is what I had) were not recommended. I could have said “screw you, cake box instructions, I’ll do what I want,” but since this was a review, I wanted to follow the directions correctly at least this first time. In the end, I opted for a two layer cake.

The batter tasted pretty great but was a tad sweet. The frosting was also very sweet.  I was afraid it might be too sweet when put together. Another drawback of the frosting was that it wasn’t as white as the frosting on the box of cake mix. It was closer to the cream color on the frosting label. It tasted a bit like a mix of regular vanilla frosting and cream cheese frosting.

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I cooked the cake according to the directions and ended up pulling it out of the oven a couple of minutes early because a toothpick already came out of the center clean. This was probably one of the moistest cakes I’ve ever baked. Even after cooling for a long time, the cake stayed sticky. Because of this stickiness, when you frost the cake, you’ll have to do a crumb coat. To do this, spread a thin layer of frosting all over the cake to glue all the crumbs together that mix into it after you’ve put in the frosting filling between the layers.  To set this quickly, I stuck the cake in the fridge for a few minutes so that the frosting wouldn’t be tacky to the touch. Then I frosted as usual, no crumbs this time! I found a great tutorial for crumb coating on Martha Stewart if you need a visual.

While putting cake in the fridge can dry it out, this cake needs a bit of chilling to firm it up for cutting slices. The cake was room temperature when I took the first slice out and it nearly crumbled all over the place, plus the slice fell over when I was trying to serve it on a plate for the photo shoot! It was not very easy to handle when it was warm and it was messy. There were cake crumbs all over.

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I don’t know how they got the frosting so clean in the cake box photo. Crumbs got all mixed up into mine when I cut the cake. I found out later that chilling the cake briefly does make the cake more firm for slicing, but it’s still a bit crumbly.

Now to the taste. As I expected, the cake was a little too sweet for my liking. If you like really sweet desserts, this might be the cake for you. A little goes a long way, because it’s so sweet and rich. Chilling the cake helped cut down on the sweetness too somehow. A small piece of this with some not-too-sweet coffee would be pretty good though!

Here’s that first slice I cut that fell all over the place. I was able to salvage it by putting the ugly side to the back. Oh the things I do for pretty photography.

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Overall, I did like this cake. It was bright and moist and looked very Christmassy. The only negative things I found were mostly with the frosting, because it wasn’t as white as I expected, and it was too sweet. The cake itself is so sweet, it could be a dessert on its own.

Want a chance to give it a try? Enter the giveaway below for a Holly Jolly Kit that includes one box of Holly Jolly Cake Mix and two tubs of Holiday Frosting.

BUY IT

If you would like to buy the Holly Jolly cake mix, it can be found at Target and Stop and Shop, and the Holiday Frosting can be found exclusively at Target until January 2015. Some of the holiday products can be found online at www.gartnerstudios.com.

CONNECT

Stay up-to-date on all things Duff Goldman by Gartner Studios! Follow on Facebook and Twitter.

WIN IT!

One lucky reader will win their own package of Duff Goldman by Gartner Studios Holly Jolly Cake Mix and two tubs of Holiday Frosting!

Open to U.S. residents 18 and older. Giveaway ends 12/24/14 at 11:59 pm EST.

Click HERE for complete giveaway rules.

To Enter, just fill in your name and email into the Rafflecopter widget below. For a better chance at winning, complete as many of the optional entries as you want. Come back daily for more entries!

If the Rafflecopter widget does not show up, just click the link that says “a Rafflecopter giveaway.” Then you can put your entries on that page.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

****I received these products free of charge for an honest review of the products. I was not compensated monetarily for this review and all opinions are my own.****

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Dainty Petits Fours

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One of the cute treats I made for my Afternoon Tea Party this weekend was a batch of cute petits fours. They are a little labor intensive, but I cut some corners to make them a little easier than some petits fours can be.

They’re made out of pre-made poundcake that you can find in the freezer section of your grocery store, strawberry jam, and melted canned frosting. If you want them to be a little decorated, use sprinkles, frosting or candy confetti. I also made some petits fours with chocolate frosting, but they were eaten before I could get a picture of them!

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Dainty Petits Fours

Ingredients

  • 1 frozen loaf of pre-made poundcake
  • 1 can of vanilla frosting and/or 1 can of chocolate frosting
  • Candies, frosting, or sprinkles for decor
  • Fruit jam or jelly for filling

Instructions

  1. Defrost the poundcake and then trim off the dark edges all the way around the cake. Don't trim off too much cake though.
  2. Cut the cake into 1/2 inch slices.
  3. With a 1-1.5 inch square cookie cutter, cut slices into squares. You should be able to get two squares per slice.
  4. Spread jam on one square and sandwich it with another square. Repeat until you've used all the cake pieces.
  5. Take a jellyroll pan or a pan with a raised edge lined with foil or waxed paper and place a cookie rack in it.
  6. Melt the frosting in a bowl for 10-15 seconds. If the frosting is thin enough, move onto the next instruction, otherwise, heat for a few more seconds until the frosting is nice and runny.
  7. Put the cake sandwiches on the rack and drizzle melted frosting over them until they are fully covered on all visible sides.
  8. Before the frosting sets up, place your decor candy or sprinkles on top of each petit four.
  9. Place the pan in the fridge until the frosting has set completely.
  10. Serve petits fours in mini cupcake wrappers for clean handling.
http://shaneskillercupcakes.com/2014/07/dainty-petits-fours/

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Stars, Flags, and Firecrackers! It’s a 4th of July Dessert Round Up

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titleimage_2Fourth of July is this week and if you’re in the United States, you probably have a party or BBQ to attend. Still not sure what you’re going to bring to your potluck? Check out these deliciously patriotic sweets I’ve selected from around the Internet.

STARS

1. Red, White, and Blue Fudge Stars from Hungry Happenings

These layered stars, made from white chocolate, sweetened condensed milk, and food coloring, give a bright pop to any party table.

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2.  Red Velvet Brownie Star Stacks from I Should Be Mopping the Floor

If brownies are more your style, try these stacked red velvet brownie stars with cool whip and blue berries.

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3. Red, White, and Blue Stained Glass Jello Stars from Brown Eyed Baker

I love these because they remind me of the jello desserts of the 1960s.

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STRIPES

4. Red, White, and Blue Raspberry Candy Bars from Cherry Tea Cakes

These candy bars are a great surprise for your friends! From the outside they look normal, but one bite reveals the red, white, and blue stripes inside. I always love surprise inside treats.

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5. Jello Pudding Pops from Number 2 Pencil

If you have access to a freezer, these pudding pops are great for a hot summer day.

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6. Triple Berry Frozen Smoothies from In Katrina’s Kitchen

Made from a combination of yogurt, fruit, and honey, these delicious smoothies are a perfect cool down on 4th of July.

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FLAGS

7. 4th of July Flag Cake from Secret Life of a Chef’s Wife

Here’s another version of the surprise inside treat. This cake is baked with several colored layers and combined to form a flag when cut into. Can you imagine what your friends will say when they see the inside?

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FIRECRACKERS

8. Firecracker Sugar Cookies from Mom Dot

To the unfamiliar, these look like your everyday sugar cookies with candy sugar and sprinkles on top. What they don’t know is these will pop and crackle in your mouth when you eat them! How you ask? The secret ingredient is Pop Rocks!

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9. Twizzler Firecracker Cupcakes from Tastes Of Lizzy T

To keep with the firecracker theme, here are some cute cupcakes that look like little firecrackers exploding.

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If you aren’t planning a red, white, and blue dish for your party but still want it to look festive, decorate it with flag picks!  To make your own, download my free American flag pick printable by clicking on the picture below:

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Have a fun and safe Independence Day!

 

***All photos were used with permission
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