Three Valentine’s Day Things

Favorite Valentine's Day Ideas

I’m gearing up to bring you a handful of fun new Valentine’s Day ideas starting next week, but I thought I’d jump start things a bit today with three of my favorites from last year! I’m definitely the type who prefers small, sweet gestures on Valentine’s Day, so something sweet and handmade followed up by a fizzy champagne cocktail loaded with heart-shaped ice is just my speed. Of course, I’ve been pinning Valentine’s Day crafts and gift ideas like a wild woman, so follow along on Pinterest and stay tuned starting next week for more sweet ideas!

[From top: DIY Pipe Cleaner Heart Topper | DIY Chocolate Heart Wall | Pink Peppercorn Grapefruit Fizz.]

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Banana Cake with Honey Cream Frosting

Banana Cake with Honey Cream Frosting

You guys may remember how the lovely Melina of Sugary & Buttery popped by last summer to share her amazing Sky High Raffaello Cake recipe with us. Melina is one of those bloggers who is always amazing me with her sweet confections and her gorgeous photography, so I’m pretty thrilled to have her joining us again. Today we’re talking banana cake topped with a honey cream frosting. Which translates to a whole lot of awesome. Bonus! This cake is seriously simple to make and will basically wow your guests at a weekend dinner party or serve as the perfect mid-week treat. Or want to whip up a yummy homemade cake for a friend’s birthday without slaving in the kitchen for hours on end? Consider this cake a winner!

For the cake:
1-1/2 cups oat flour (or all purpose flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup coconut oil (or canola oil)
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large bananas, mashed
1/2 cup shredded coconut

For the frosting:
8 oz cream cheese
4 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup powdered sugar

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Preheat oven to 335°F / 190°C. Spray an 8×8 square dish or a 8 inch round cake pan with non stick cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients except for the sugar. Set aside. In a second bowl, whip sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla extract and applesauce together. Mash the bananas with a folk and mix into the wet ingredients. Add the shredded coconut. Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined.

Pour the batter into your greased dish and bake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted. Cool completely before frosting. Adjust baking times if you use a different sized pan.

To make the frosting, whip the cream cheese, honey and sugar with a mixer until well combined and creamy. Scoop the frosting in a piping bag with a large round tip attached and decorate the cake with dollups of frosting.

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Many thanks to Melina for sharing this awesome cake with us today! Be sure to pay her a visit over at Sugar & Buttery where she’s constantly wowing me with her baking wonders. Like this triple layer chocolate marzipan cake. Holy cow. Sign me up for a slice of that one!

[Photos by  Melina of Sugary & Buttery.]

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Color Palette: Olympic Blue + Rouge

Sooo, anyone getting really really excited for the Winter Olympics? If you can picture me waving my arm frantically over here, you get the picture. I’ve been obsessed with the Olympics pretty much my whole life. Kristi Yamaguchi winning figure skating gold back in 1992? Yeah, highlight of my fourth grade life. (Or was it third? It hardly matters. Suffice it to say, it was a big deal to me for some unknown reason.) Not that I’m necessarily partial to the winter games. Just round up a whole bunch of amazing athletes, have them camp out in some random place for two weeks, give me a solid underdog story or two, and I’m a happy happy lady. Today’s color palette is my first ode of the season to this year’s winter Olympics, but you can expect more where this came from.

Color Palette: Olympic Blue and Rouge

p.s. I started a ten week T25 group challenge today! Has anyone tried it? My gym routine has gotten out of whack lately so I’m hoping this is a great way for me to make sure I’m continuing to make fitness a priority. Let me know if you’ve done it! I’ll keep you posted on how it goes, but so far first impressions are good on day 1!

[Photos, from top: Uda Kids | J.Crew | The Tiffin Box.]

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Home Refresh: 10 DIY Home Decor Ideas

10 DIY Home Decor Ideas

Earlier this week we talked about 10 easy DIY ways to refresh your wardrobe for winter, so it only seemed fitting to talk about a little home refresh, too. Does anyone else get the home decor bug after undecking the halls every January? Because I’m here to tell you what, since finishing our bedroom nightstands all I want to do is work on projects for our apartment. I think about it way, way too much. As in, every single day. (Please. Send help.)

Anyone else feeling like tackling a little home refresh? Because I’ve rounded up 10 budget-friendly DIY home decor ideas sure to freshen up your space in no time. Oh, and they’re all renter-friendly, because that’s how I roll. Click through for all the goods!

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Tips + Tricks: How to Get a Cake Out of a Pan

To kick off January, I mentioned wanting to switch things up a bit around here this year. One of my primary objectives for 2014 is to take The Sweetest Occasion to the next level by not only sharing parties, recipes, projects and ideas that I hope will inspire you to celebrate more in your every day life, but also working to provide you with the tools to get there, breaking things down and showing you just how simple it can be to live a party-filled life. Part one in that effort is this new little how-to series. Every other Thursday I’ll be sharing one of my go-to tricks or tips with you. These are all simple, easy things I find useful in my day to day world that I hope you might find helpful, too, whether it be kitchen tricks or entertaining tips. First up, today I’m sharing how to get a cake out of a pan without it sticking! (Because you know there ain’t nobody out there who likes a busted up cake.)

How to Get a Cake Out of a Pan

I started making homemade cakes for my friends’ birthdays back in college. I was the first one who had my own apartment and while funds were limited, I loved baking a cake and jazzing up my tiny abode with bunting made from scraps in the studio come time to celebrate a birthday. While I’m not a cake decorator by any stretch (I like them simple and tasty more so than all jazzed up with sugar flowers), I’ve made a lot of cakes in my day. Learning how to get the darn cakes out of the pan without them falling apart was the first step in becoming a cake-baking whizz and I’m happy to report that it’s crazy easy to do.

How to Get a Cake Out of a Pan

  • Parchment paper
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Shortening or butter
  • Flour

How to Get a Cake Out of a Pan How to Get a Cake Out of a Pan

Begin by stocking your kitchen with parchment paper and vowing never to live without it again. If you haven’t yet discovered the wonders of parchment paper, consider this part one in your education. Using a pencil, trace the bottom of your cake pans onto the parchment paper and then cut them out. I cut just inside the line that I traced to ensure a nice fit, but no worries if your circle isn’t perfect or if the size is off a bit. There’s room for error here!

How to Get a Cake Out of a Pan How to Get a Cake Out of a Pan

Next up, place the parchment paper circles in the bottom of your pans and grease everything with shortening or butter. I find both work perfectly and while I generally reach for the vegetable shortening, I’ll use butter if that’s all I have in the house. Don’t put it on too thick, just grease everything with a skim coat and call it good.

How to Get a Cake Out of a Pan How to Get a Cake Out of a Pan

Now it’s time to flour your pans! Even when a recipe only calls for the pans to be greased (versus greased and floured), I always grease and flour cake pans. Sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of flour into the bottom of your pan and then rotate the pan to ensure both the bottom and the sides are floured. I usually work with the first pan over the second so the excess falls right into the second pan.

How to Get a Cake Out of a Pan

And it’s that easy! Now it’s time to load your pans up with the batter and bake ‘em up. Once you pull the cakes from the oven, allow them to cool slightly for 10 – 15 minutes. I usually toss mine on a wire rack so the bottom of the pan cools a little quicker. (And, yes, I’ve been known to toss them in the freezer for a few minutes if I’m in a time crunch, but slow and steady is always the best policy with cakes if you can manage it.)

How to Get a Cake Out of a Pan How to Get a Cake Out of a Pan

After the cakes have cooled slightly, grab a rubber spatula and run it along the edge of your pan to release any areas that may have stuck a bit. Then simply tip the pan over, tapping the bottom slightly to release the cake. I usually do this directly into my hand and then set the cake back onto the wire rack to finish cooling, but you could also tap it out onto your counter and then transfer it to the rack. Remember to allow your cake to cool completely, as in 100%, before frosting. Otherwise, your frosting will melt and get all ick instead of sitting up pretty on the cake. And, you know, ain’t nobody out there who loves a cake with icky frosting.

How to Get a Cake Out of a Pan

How to Get a Cake Out of a Pan

I hope you find this new series helpful! As we go along, be sure to chime in and let me know if there’s some nagging thing that just drives you absolutely nuts. (Like toilet paper hung the wrong way on the holder. Which just drives me bonkers. But I don’t have a trick for avoiding that one, sadly.) If I don’t have a trick, I’ll try to do some experimenting to figure out a solution to include in a future post. In the meantime, cheers to non-busted cakes!

[Photos by Cyd Converse for The Sweetest Occasion.]

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