We’ve talked about the Chocolate Chip Cookie Layer Cake (directions here!)  in depth, now I thought that I’d share just a few of the details that made this little party so much fun. I mentioned in my last post, that for Ollie’s first birthday, we had ordered a few things from Shop Sweet LuLu. I was so impressed with how well curated the site was and the quality of the party decor that we received, that we just decided to reuse almost everything that had survived last year. We went with the same blue/green color theme and got a few more milk and cookies details and called it a day. Below you’ll find a source list for everything we used to pull off this sweet theme. I particularly loved the cookie straws and those mini milk jugs! Happy Birthday Ollie! I’m so happy you’re ours. xo


A few posts that I found while taking a trip down memory lane!

Oliver’s First Birthday Party 

Oliver’s First Birthday on Kelsey’s Essentials

Welcome Home Oliver


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Milk Containers (we filled them with Cookie Crisp cereal and sent them with our guests as a favor!)
Mini Milk Jugs
Number Balloon and Tassel
Cake Stand
‘Ollie is 2′ banner
Ombre Tassel Garland
Cookie Cake Tutorial
Table in a Bag (perfect for parties in the park!)



photos: Kylie Whiting


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My sweet Ollie boy turns TWO this week! We wanted to celebrate with a small party incorporating some of his favorite things right now. In addition to being a huge fan of milk & cookies, he also loves Sesame Street and will ask for both Cookie Monster and Elmo on a regular basis. (it’s so cute!) I knew that it was going to be a bit of an intense week for work, so I decided to really only focus on a cake and not worry too much about food for the party. Last year I made a bunch of food, essentially catering the party, and in a way I regretted it. I ended up being in the kitchen the whole time stressed about taco assembly! It was so much nicer to just focus on a fun cake rather than an entire menu spread. I really wanted to make a chocolate chip cookie layer cake of some sort and ended up winging it in a sense. Below you’ll find all of the steps I took to make the recipe and how it turned out.






First, I had to think about the cookie. I knew that I wanted it to be thick and fairly soft. If the cookie was thin and crispy it would have been tough to pull off layers of frosting in between without it feeling like there was too much frosting. Also, I was hoping to make a cake that would be easy to cut. I fear that a thin, crispy cookie wouldn’t have held up. So I took my existing chocolate chip cookie recipe and made a few changes – similar to what I would have done if I were writing a recipe for a bar cookie. The dry ingredients were standard and basic – flour, baking soda, and salt. I increased the salt a bit more than I usually would to try and obtain that sweet and salty bite. (next time I might eliminate the salt all together and just use salted butter) I know that it’s the popular opinion to work only with unsalted butter so that you can better control the flavor, but I’m starting to think that I might actually like working with salted butter in baking more often. So daring, I know.


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Cooking can be such a creative outlet – whether it’s pulling together a simple weeknight dinner for your family, making a special occasion meal, or even just dreaming up a menu, the creative aspect of cooking is one of the things I love most about the craft. In fact, I worked as a recipe developer for a local restaurant right after I completed Food Network Star and to this day it was one of my favorite jobs. I learned so much!


I recently had the unique opportunity to collaborate with an incredible local Utah chef on a menu for a special event in Utah. We were celebrating 10 years of the ever so charming Daybreak Community. The dinner was held on the Cross Water Bridge located in one of their newest developments and was picturesque as it gets. The menu came together so nicely and the execution was fantastic. I worked with Chef Adam Kreisel and his team at Chaia Cucina to create a menu that celebrated the best ingredients Utah has to offer from local farms like Drake Family Farm and Clifford Family Farm. It was a homey approach that made the meal feel not too fancy – yet still very impressive! I particularly loved elements like the savory chickpea flour waffle with the main course and the grilled peach and blueberry compote dessert that was a variation of my Skillet Blueberry and Peach Cobbler from Kitchen Confidence. We added gingersnap cookie crumbles, homemade creme fraiche, and grey sea salt for a refined finish.


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Thanks so much for having me Daybreak! Everything I love about my home state of Utah was captured during this dinner – great people, beautiful surroundings, and delicious food.


Special thanks to David Newkirk for these gorgeous images!

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It’s here! Summer is finally here!! That means I intend to use my oven as little as possible and utilize as much fresh produce for quick and easy meals as I can get my hands on. Salads are a great place start. Whether you’re trying to decide what to make for an upcoming bbq or potluck, Kitchen Confidence is filled with fantastic salad recipes. Right now I’m planning to make my Summer Bean, Pea, and Radish Salad for a baby shower, my Charred Corn Salad with Basil Vinaigrette for a BBQ, and my Potato Salad for the Fourth of July. They’re all bright and beautiful when it comes to both look and flavor.


All 3 of these delicious summer salad recipes can be found in my book, Kitchen Confidence.  Have any of you tried these recipes already? I would love to know what you think!


*An insider tip for those interested in making the Summer Bean, Pea, and Radish Salad…you can buy almost all of the ingredients for this dish at Trader Joe’s in their prepared produce aisle. It makes throwing this salad together so incredibly easy! I plan to make it all summer long.


Photography by Sara Remington

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Do you have big plans for Memorial Day?! We’re planning to do a few home projects as we settle into our new place and enjoy any good weather in Central Park (please don’t rain!). While the extent of our grilling this weekend will be indoor grilling, I couldn’t help but think back on our experience grilling at Brooklyn Bridge Park last summer. Talk about a city moment! I can’t think of a more stunning backdrop for grilling. It was such a fun family memory and I’m so glad we snapped photos and some video to capture how great it was.




It was around this time that I fell in love with Halloumi Cheese. (or Grilling Cheese) It’s the one thing you’re probably not planning on grilling that you SHOULD! This ingredient is so fun to work with and fairly fool proof. The texture is similar to feta cheese and the taste reminds me of queso fresco. It can be grilled or fried and is really mild. I like threading it onto my Marinated Veggie Skewers before throwing them onto the grill. Admittedly I eat all of the pieces of cheese first! It’s addictive!! I found this exact brand at my Whole Foods today for only $4.99, which is worth every cent. Definitely pick some up for your grilling festivities this weekend!


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Permalink | Posted in: Grilling, Ulive | Comments (2)