Our good friends Sara and Tim are expecting their first baby in November. We are thrilled for them and can't wait to do some babysitting for Baby Dudley! A few of Sara's friends from New York and I planned a fun baby shower for Sara and Tim last night. Sara's friend Amy made a hilarious slideshow about what Sara's baby would be like if she had married her ex-boyfriends from high school. The conclusion is that she and Tim will have a much cooler and smarter son/daughter. It had us all laughing! We played Guitar Hero of course, because it wouldn't be a baby shower without it! Sara and Tim opened a baby stroller from all of us, and we had some yummy food.
I have two recipes to share with you today from the shower (both of them great), a caesar salad and cupcakes with personalized cupcake flags that said Baby Dudley! This was my first time decorating anything with tips. I bought a Wilton cupcake decorating starter kit from Michael's and food coloring for the frosting. It was a pretty messy project, but I had fun experimenting. I think they turned out really well for my first time! To make the the cupcake flags, I used toothpicks, a glue stick and printed Baby Dudley on card-stock to match the colors of the frosting. They were so easy to make and a fun, cheap way to personalize the cupcakes.
Baby Dudley Cupcakes
For the cupcakes, I used Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake recipe from her cookbook called Baking: From My Home To Yours and the Easy Vanilla Buttercream recipe came from Cook's Illustrated. I found both of these recipes at Annie's Eats.
Perfect Party Cake:
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 T. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups whole milk or buttermilk
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 tsp. lemon extract
Preheat the oven to 350. If you are making cake, butter two 9-inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered parchment paper. Dust both pans with flour, shaking out the excess. Set aside. If you are making cupcakes, line the pan with cupcake liners.
Sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk and the egg whites. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar and lemon zest. Mix them with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the butter to the mixture and beat on medium speed for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Beat in the lemon extract.
Add one third of the flour mixture, continuing to beat on medium speed. Beat in half of the egg mixture, then half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, beating until the batter is homogenous, then add the last of the dry ingredients. Finally, give the batter a good 2 minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. If you are making cupcakes, fill cupcake lines about 3/4 full and cook for 16-18 minutes. It made about 20 cupcakes. If you are making cake, divide the batter between the two prepared cake pans and smooth tops with a rubber spatula. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cakes are well-risen and springy to the touch- a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean.
Easy Vanilla Buttercream
20 tbsp. (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/8 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 T. heavy cream
In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds. Add confectioners' sugar and salt; beat at medium speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 45 seconds. Scrape down the bowl and beat at medium speed until mixture is fully combined, about 15 seconds. Scrape bowl, add vanilla and heavy cream and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 10 seconds. Then increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice.
Caesar Salad with Garlic Croutons
Garlic Croutons Ingredients:
4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups 3/4 inch bread cubes, cut from good quality baguette or Italian loaf
Large pinch of salt
To make the garlic infused oil, use food processor, blender or hand blender to mince the garlic. Add the olive oil gradually and process for 30 seconds. Strain the garlic from oil through a fine mesh strainer. Reserve half of the garlic infused oil for the dressing.
Cut bread into 3/4 inch cubes. Toss the bread with half of the garlic infused oil in a medium bowl. Add bread cubes to hot skillet and toast, turning the cubes and shaking the pan often, until crisp and golden brown. Return the croutons to bowl and set aside to cool.
3 romaine hearts, separated into whole leaves (I used 2 bags Romaine lettuce to make it more simple on me and easier to eat for the guests)
2 T. lemon juice
2 1/2 T. mayonnaise
1/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 T. pure olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
Ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Place lettuce in large bowl. For the dressing, whisk lemon juice, mayo, half the reserved garlic infused oil, and Worcestershire in a small bowl. Drizzle lettuce with 2 T. olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and toss lightly. Drizzle dressing over lettuce and toss again. Sprinkle Parmesan over greens and toss. Sprinkle croutons over the salad; toss and serve. If you want some extra dressing on the side for guests, I recommend making another batch of dressing.
***Adapted from Pioneer Woman