Safari Themed Baby Shower

Giraffe CakeIn the beginning of December my sister’s best friend, Christina, and I threw a baby shower for my sister Sarah. Several years ago my sister, grandmother and I departed on an adventure throughout East Africa so right away we knew what the theme should be! Not to mention my sister’s affinity for giraffes. So it was set – now let the planning begin!


The color palette we chose for the majority of our decorations were browns, greens, yellows, and blues. So let’s start at the table.

Congrats Sign

Safari Baby Shower Table

The table runners were made by my friend & co-worker Kim who purchased the fabric from a local fabric shop. For the center pieces, I purchased several large and small mason jars, wrapped them in burlap and finished it with a twine bow. The flowers were a combinations of green Poms, Hydrangeas, Birds of Paradise and Eucalyptus from our backyard. The plates, napkins, cutlery, table cloths and premium stemware were purchased online from

Baby Shower Center Piece


As a takeaway for our guests, we had a 187ml bottle of Kenwood Vineyards Yulupa Sparkling wine wrapped in a burlap bag with a tag that read:

Capture1Additionally, we had these adorable (and delicious!) giraffe cookies made by Trisha Thomas who owns Dessert Divas in Sacramento.

Dessert Diva Cookies


1454680_10101160479112657_640340608_nQuiche Lorraine • Mushroom Spinach Quiche

Parmesan & Cranberry Salad • Fruit Salad • Assorted Muffins

Assorted Cheeses • Giraffe Cake • Safari Cake Pops

Cucumber Water • Jungle Juice (Pomegranate / Cranberry Punch)

Safari Table SettingTo save on time (as we had a lot to do in terms of decorating and last-minute crafts), we ordered the quiche from Whole Foods catering and picked up the fruit salad, muffins and cheese from the local market.

Parmesan & Cranberry Salad with Peach Vinaigrette

  • 8 cups mixed greens
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
  • Toasted walnuts
  • 2/3 cup peach nectar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • pinch of salt

This recipe yields 6 – 8 servings so I tripled it for the shower. To make the vinaigrette, mix together the peach nectar, vinegar, mustard, and salt in a large bowl. Slowly add in the oil whisking constantly. Add the cranberries and toasted walnuts to the mixed greens and toss well with vinaigrette. Garnish with the Parmesan cheese. The original recipe, adapted from Sandra Lee, calls for Pear Nectar but I swapped it our for peach and I also added in the walnuts to give it some crunch!

Punch & Water

Jungle Juice Punch (Cranberry, Pomegranate & Tangerine)

  • 5 cups cranberry juice
  • 3 cups tangerine juice
  • 2 cups pomegranate juice
  • 1 liter soda water
  • Fresh cranberries, for garnish

This was a huge hit at the party and it was so easy to make. In a large punch bowl combine the cranberry, tangerine and pomegranate juice. Top with soda water and garnish with fresh cranberries. (Variation: swap out the soda water for sparkling wine to give it an adult kick!)

Cake Pop For Parties

For dessert we had these adorable safari cake pops, made by our dear friend Lisa and this amazing raspberry marble (chocolate marble cake layered with chocolate ganache, vanilla buttercream, and fresh raspberries) giraffe cake made by Diana Katra, Cake Whimsy in Campbell.

Giraffe Cake | Aprons & Stilettos

While my sister was opening presents, we played baby bingo! These cards were so easy to make in Photoshop (or InDesign). If you don’t have the time to design your own baby bingo cards, you can find an array of adorable cards for purchase on Etsy.

Baby Bingo

My sister is due any day now so we’re just waiting around for the call! This will be her first, my parents first grandchild and my first time being an Auntie! I can’t wait! Cheers! ~Crystal

Table Setting


FALL in LOVE with FALL salad

ppWith our gardens filled with persimmons and pomegranates and Thanksgiving around the corner I was inspired to throw a few of my favorite fruits together and make a festive salad. Simple and delicious with colors that scream Fall, this salad will be a great addition to your Thanksgiving feast or a new just because treat. And don’t worry if you don’t think persimmons are your thing, give this combination a chance and you just might become a fan .


FALL in LOVE with FALL salad (for 4)

  • 1 bag of Arugula (5 oz)
  • 3 Persimmons
  • 1 Pomegranate
  • 1 Red onion
  • Chia Seeds
  • Olive oil, one lemon, salt and pepper for dressing

I started off by slivering off round thin pieces of persimmon ( I used a mandoline) which can get tricky since some might not come out perfect, but its for taste so don’t worry. Place each sliver one by one covering each individual plate as I did or on your dish of choice if you are making a bigger salad. Take the arugula and toss with olive oil, fresh lemon juice and season to taste with salt pepper and when its ready place the greens in the middle of your dish so the persimmons are still visible. Add your red onions slices and I actually added slices of fennel as an afterthought which was great, and then top it off with sprinkles of chia and pomegranate seeds.  The salad is not only visually appetizing but taste amazing and fresh. Hope you enjoy!

It’s Party Time | Superbowl XLVII

Superbowl Spread

It’s almost here – Superbowl XLVII! Get ready for the game with some of our favorite game day snacks!

Spicy Artichoke-Spinach Dip

Spinach Artichoke Dip

1 can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
10 oz fresh spinach (I prefer fresh over frozen)
2 cups Agiago, Parmesan and Fontina cheese, shredded.
1/2 cup sour cream
4 oz cream cheese, softened
4 oz can jalapeño peppers, chopped (I used 1/2 the can, feel free to use more!)
2 – 3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbl red crushed peppers
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Drizzle olive oil and a little bit of the jalapeño juice in saute pan and wilt the fresh spinach. While this is sautéing, mix together the Italian cheese blend, artichoke hearts, sour cream, cream cheese, jalapeno peppers, garlic, and crushed red pepper in a bowl until well blended. Remove the spinach and drain well before adding it to the mix.  Spread the dip into the prepared baking dish topping it with any extra cheese you may have. Bake in the preheated oven until the cheese has melted and is bubbly, about 20 to 25 minutes. Serve warm with homemade crostinis.

Cajun Prawns Wrapped in Bacon

(Thanks to Jason for making these!)

Cajun Shrimp

2 lbs 16/20* prawns, thawed, peeled and deveined
¼ extra virgin olive oil
1 package bacon
¼ cup Cajun Spice Mix

Spice Mix

4 T paprika
2 T garlic powder
2 T cayenne pepper
2 T black pepper
1 T dry thyme
1T dry oregano
1T onion powder
2 T salt
1 T white pepper

Toss the freshly cleaned prawns in the extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle spice mixture on the prawns and wrap with a small piece of bacon, securing with toothpicks. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and bake for 10 – 15 minutes or until bacon is done. Serve immediately.

Grilled Sausages with Brandy-Mustard Sauce

Sausage with Mustard

1 lb sweet or hot Italian sausage
Korbel Brandy mustard sauce

Enjoy the grilled sausages with the mustard sauce alone or add the sausage slices and sauce to homemade crostini’s and top with cole slaw.

Korbel Brandy-Mustard Sauce

1 tsp olive oil
2 T chopped shallots
1 cup Dijon mustard
1 T whole mustard seeds
½ cup chicken or veal stock
½ cup Korbel Brandy
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Saute shallots in olive oil until soft. Add mustard seeds and Dijon to the shallots and let simmer for 2 minutes. Add brandy and chicken stock to the mustard and let cook over medium heat for another 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve warm or room temperature over grilled meats and sausages. Makes 1 ½ cups

Beer & Pretzel Cupcakes

Beer & Pretzel Cupcakes

1 cup (4.5 ounces) all purpose flour
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (7.3 ounces) sugar
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons(1.5 ounces) Unsweetened Natural Cocoa Powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and warm
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup Guinness Stout

Ganache Frosting

3/4 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon vegetable oil
chocolate, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Add flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and mix thoroughly to combine. Add in the butter, eggs, and vanilla and beat on medium speed for one minute. Add 1/4 cup of the beer into the mixture and beat for 20 seconds. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add remaining beer. Beat for 20-30 seconds until the batter is smooth. The batter will be thin enough to pour. Divide it evenly among the lined cups. Bake 18-22 minutes just until a toothpick inserted into a few of the cupcakes comes out clean. Set the pan on a rack to cool. Frost the cupcakes when they are completely cool.

To make ganache frosting: Bring heavy cream, butter and vegetable oil to a light boil. Pour hot heavy cream mixture over chocolate. Using a spatula gently fold chocolate through heavy cream until well combined. Set aside to cool for at least an two hours or until frosting consistency is achieved. Frosting will thicken as sits. When cupcakes are cooled, apply the frosting and pretzels. Drizzle chocolate and caramel on top. (Adopted from Bakers Royal blog )

Slow Cooked Pulled Pork Sliders

(Click here for recipe)
Pulled Pork Sandwhich