We’re going to Party like it is 1958…

It all started when my mom gave me a book from 1958 about cooking and entertaining.  I figured this would be the perfect party.  I spent about a month looking at old recipes.  I sent out invitations.  I got myself a 50s housewife dress.  And last Saturday, I threw a pretty fun 50s party.  I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that everyone dressed up, and everyone seemed to have a  good time.

Now I believe that if you are going to go to the bother to throw a party, you should be able to enjoy it.  That is what I kept in mind while planning.  I was able to make all the food ahead of time.  Most of it was done the day before, in fact.  Instead of bar-tending all night, I made pitchers of drinks, and let people pour them for themselves.

The Menu:

I had a buffet style sampling of appetizers and desserts.  I made two types of Jell-o, a cherry-chocolate bundt cake, little cakes, ambrosia salad, a cheese ball, refrigerator pickles,  and spinach dip.  I made almost all of this on Friday morning.  Food in the 50s was easy! Packaged things, processed things, convenience food galore–I have never put such little effort into making food for a party before.

Cheese Ball: 

1 small tub of Merk Cheese

1 8-ounce package of cream cheese

a little blue cheese

a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce

Throw it all together and mix together.  Wrap in plastic wrap and form into a ball.  Put in the fridge overnight.  Before serving roll in parsley or chopped nuts.

Easiest Chocolate-cherry Bundt Cake Ever

1 devil’s food chocolate cake mix

1/4 cup vegetable oil

3 eggs

1/2 cup water

1 can cherry pie filling

1 cup chocolate chips

Mix it all together and put it in a bundt pan pre-sprayed with Baker’s Joy.  Bake for about 45-50 minutes.  Leave it cook in the pan for about 15 minutes then slide it out and let it cool completely.  Top with chocolate frosting.

Ambrosia Salad

1 package of marshmallows

1 tub of cool whip

1 can pineapple chunks, drained

1 can mandarin oranges, drained

1 cup coconut

Mix it all together.  That is it.  It is actually that easy.

The Drinks:

For ease, I wanted just one or two drinks at the party.  I decided on a Mojito and an Old Fashioned because they were both around in the 50s and they are both delicious.  According to Wikipedia (so it is probably right), the Old Fashioned was the favorite drink of President Truman, and the Mojito was the favorite drink of Hemingway.


1 2/3 oz white run

1 teaspoon sugar

2/3 ox lime juice

bunch of fresh mint

sparkling water

Put the sugar and the lime juice together in the bottom of a high ball glass.  Throw the mint in and muddle together.  Add the rum, ice, and sparkling water.  Serve with a slice of lime.

Old Fashioned

1 2/3 oz bourbon

dash of Angostura bitters

1 sugar cube

club soda

oranges and maraschino cherry

Place the sugar cube in an old-fashioned class and soak with the bitters.  Add some orange slices and muddle together.  Add the bourbon, ice, and cover with soda.  You can also use Sprite for a sweet Old Fashioned (serve with a maraschino cherry) or Squirt or 50/50 for a Sour Old Fashioned (serve with an olive).  If you are from Wisconsin, you can make these with brandy instead of bourbon.  Both liquors are quite good.  I like all varieties of Old Fashioneds.

The People:

Everyone came looking fantastic.  I didn’t get a ton of pictures, but here a few.

Here we are looking like a nice happy 50s family.

Our friend Joe came up from Madison for the party.  He helped me out a ton preparing for the party.  Plus he spent a couple of hours putting together a great 50s playlist.

I think Kelsey (my friend and former roommate) took the cake for the best outfit.  The baby she is holding is not hers though.  The adorable little baby Nina belongs to our friends Ann and Antonio.

Joe and Antonio showed up in the same hat…

Kara and Caleb–he is sporting a bow tie and she is wearing metallic gloves–pretty awesome.

Kim and Josh–my cousins-in-laws (is that a thing?).  Kim had the cutest hat!

Here is my friend Katie all decked out with broaches.

Here is Elle holding little Milo (Milo is not her baby.  He belongs to our friends Ray and Angie).

It was an absolute beautiful night, and we enjoyed some time outdoors.

Thank you so much to everyone who came.  I feel really bad I didn’t get pictures of everyone because everyone looked great! Next time I will be more on top of pictures!



Lime Basil Mini-Bundts

This Mother’s Day I got some pretty great presents.  Two of these were a mini-bundt pans and a new bundt book.  The mini bundts are so cute.  They are supposed to be single serving, but they are a large single serving.  They take about a cup of batter per mini-bundt, which actually makes good size cake.

The book I got is called Kiss My Bundt.  It is a recipe book from a bakery in California that specializes in bundt cakes, which is a pretty funny idea.  I like it because it has some bundt ideas I haven’t seen before, like the Basil Lime recipe I made yesterday.  Luckily I had just bought a basil plant, so I was ready to go.  Although Alec, my dad, and my brother were all skeptical, they were very good cakes.  The flavor was not particularly basily or limey, but it was tasty nonetheless.  I made some butter cream frosting to put on the top.  The frosting would not have been necessary, but it made a nice addition.  If you have only a big bundt pan (the 10-12 cup) you can still make this recipe–just bake it longer.  I usually find that big bundts take about an hour, but start checking it at 45 minutes depending on your oven.

Basil-Lime Bundt

1/3 cup basil leaves without stems (I just grabbed a few big leaves off my plant.  I don’t think this needs to be all that specific.)

1 1/4 cup milk

2 1/2 cups flour

2 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup butter, room temp

1 3/4 cups sugar

3 eggs, room temp

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon lime juice (I used a lot more–juice from 3 limes)

1 teaspoon lime oil or zest from 4 limes (I had zest from three limes because that is all I had.)

Chop the basil and put it in the milk.  Let it sit for at least 10 minutes.

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together, set aside.

Cream the butter with an electric mixer until soft and smooth.  Add in the sugar, mix well.  Add in the eggs, mix well.

At this point, add in the lime zest, the juice, and the vanilla, and mix.

Beginning and ending with the flour, add 1/3 of the flour mixture in.  Then 1/2 the milk mixture, then the flour, then the milk, then the flour, until all is mixed together.

Transfer the batter to the bundt pan(s) which have been prepared with Baker’s Joy.

Bake at 350.  The book says to bake it for 18-22 minutes.  I baked mine for about 30 and honestly I wish I would have left it in a little longer.

Let the cakes cool in their molds for 15 minutes.  Pop them out and let them cool to room temp on cooling racks.

Meanwhile make the frosting…

3/4 cup butter, room temp

3 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla

1-2 tablespoons milk

Cream the butter until soft and smooth.  Slowly add in the sugar.  Add vanilla, and enough milk to make it creamy and spreadable.  I also threw in some lemon extract to give the frosting a little something extra, but it certainly is not necessary.  It is easy as that.  It is ready to spread on your mini-bundts.

Happy Mother’s Day, and happy bundt making!

Lemon Bundt Cake

Most people may not think that a bundt pan is a necessary item for a kitchen.  I would beg to differ.  Of course there is the issue of me being a Minnesotan, and like all Minnesotans, I have a bizarre pride surrounding all things related to our state.  Perhaps it is compensation for the fact that  we live in a state that is cold 9 months out of the year, or maybe it really is just that great of a place to live.  Either way, the bundt pan was invented by Nordic Ware right here in Minnesota for a group of German-Americans.  The shape of the pan makes the cake look finished without frosting, and bundts are usually so rich on their own, they rarely need it anyway.

The following bundt recipe is my own invention.  I wanted something lemon flavored.  This is essentially a lemon pound cake in a bundt pan.  It is moist and especially lemony because I use both zest and lemon extract in the recipe.


Zest of 2 lemons (you can use more or less according to taste)

2 1/2 cups of sugar

1 1/4 cup butter (that is 2 and a half sticks, this is not a health cake)

5 eggs

2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon almond extract (if you would rather use vanilla, add two teaspoons instead of the one almond)

2 teaspoons lemon extract


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

With your fingers, rub the zest into the sugar until it is moist and fragrant, set aside. Mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt, set aside.  In a mixer, cream the butter until light and fluffy.  Slowly add the sugar mixture.  Add the eggs one at a time, make sure to beat well after each egg.  Add in the extracts.  While the mixer is running, slowly add the flour mixture.

Scoop the mixture into a prepared bundt pan.  Use Baker’s Joy cooking spay on the pan.  Something like Pam will not cut it–you will have a bundt that won’t come out of its pan.  In fact, I love Baker’s Joy.  I use it on all my pans–nothing sticks to that stuff, nothing.

Bake the bundt for 60-70 minutes.  When done, take out of the oven and let it cool in the pan for about 15 minutes.  Then it should slide right out.

The bundt is then ready to serve.  It is good both warm or cold.  It is good the next day too.

Here is a warning though: don’t eat too much at once.  I have a bit of a stomach ache from eating half a bundt cake in less than 24 hours.  One last thing, bundts are nice to give to people because they travel well.  Perhaps some of you may one day get a bundt from me (and actually some of you already have).