My sweet little niece is expecting twin boys in June and our family is so excited!  My summer is set aside to cuddle these sweet bundles.  Until then, I had to make do with hosting her baby shower to prepare for their arrival.

Two things that are a must for any good hostess — one, have a good caterer as your friend and two, when a friend offers to help – let them!

I am not a big “theme” shower person.  I believe a baby shower should be a time for the mother-to-be to feel pampered with delicious food.  I relied on my good friend Karen McCann with Applause Food Show and Catering to make my job easier. I have used Karen both personally and professionally for many occassions.  I told her I wanted crudite and a charcuterie tray and she worked her magic.

Sweet heart-shaped crackers add the perfect touch

Crudite is a French term for appetizers consisting of sliced or whole raw vegetables which are typically dipped in a vinaigrette or other dipping sauce. My sweet friend Shannon had just gifted me with her mother’s party dishes and Karen thought the punch cups would be perfect vessels for the dip and nesting the vegetables (Twist #1).  They were the perfect size for people to pick up and place on their glass plate.

We nestled the crudite cups on a wooden two-tiered tray.  I spread out a blue and white checked table cloth on my dining table and we set all of the food on top in a casual display. For a centerpiece, I kept it simple.  I bought four bunches of white and blue hydrangeas at Trader Joe’s and placed them inside two blue and white ginger jars.

Pro-tip:  About 20 years ago I bought glass salad plates at an estate sale and everytime I see them at garage sales I add them to my collection.  Shannon’s mother also had some she shared with me so I can easily say I have well over 100 glass plates to use for any occassion.  They go with everything!

A charcuterie tray is a French word for smoked, dry-cured or cooked meats. Karen prepared a tray of meats, cheeses, fruits, nuts, spreads and other savory treats.

Wonton cups filled with peat and mint pesto and goat cheese

Phyllo cups filled with cream cheese, sundried tomatoes and orange jam

And any good southern party is not complete without deviled eggs.  The twist on these is Karen prepared them in beet juice (Twist #2) so they had the slightest tinge of pink then she garnished them with capers and parseley.

Deviled eggs with dill and capers

Mr. Bee made his famous pizzas, only for a ladies party we made mini margarhita pizzas with carmelized onions, basil, tomatoes, mozarella cheese and basil. We walked around serving these to guests from platters.

Mini margarhita pizzas

Then, it was time for dessert.  Enter Twist #3.  My party dishes included glass parfait dishes.  Growing up I remember how fun it was when my Sister Lady made parfaits with jello and whipped cream.  My version was poundcake, berries and homemade whipped cream!  Sister’s friend Kay offered to help and I enlisted her to make the mother-to-be’s favorite dessert lemon pound cake.  Kay was up for the challenge and after three recipe attempts found a recipe from Southern Living magazine that we have now deemed Kay’s Lemon Poundcake (recipe at the end of the story).  We set up a make your own parfait bar and it was yummy!

Cubed lemon poundcake

And one last treat, a grown up S’More.  I first made these when I visited Sister Lady in her home in New Mexico.  They are Twist #4.  Butter baguette slices and lightly toast.  Spread with Marshmallow cream and toast until just a golden brown. Top with pieces of milk and dark chocolate (buy the giant bars from Trader Joe’s for $3.99) then place back in the oven (we used our Fontana Forni outdoor pizza oven since it was already hot from the pizza) until the chocolate is soft.  Then top with a raspberry and vanilla sea salt.

Grown up S’More

We washed everything down with peach minted iced tea and ice cold glasses of Almond Creek Prosecco I found at Trader Joe’s.

And here’s what you’ve been waiting for…Kay’s Lemon Poundcake.  It is out of this world.  Moist and freezes well. Be sure to call your cardiologist first…it has 5 sticks of butter!

Kay’s Lemon Pound Cake (original source Southern Living)

5 sticks (2 1/2 cups) *unsalted butter, softened
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs
2 teaspoons lemon extract
1/4 fresh lemon juice (about 3 large lemons)
2 Tablespoons lemon zest
3 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt (*I have used salted butter and added 1 teaspoon kosher salt.)
Powdered sugar for garnish.

1. Preheat oven to 350*, generously mist a 10 cup fluted cake pan with non- stock spray, dust with flour.
2. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar together on medium speed until pale and fluffy (about 5 minutes).
3. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated.
4. Scrape the bottom and sides of mixing bowl, add lemon extract, lemon juice, and lemon zest until smooth.
5. Add flour and salt, mixing on medium speed until barely incorporated.
6. Transfer batter to prepared pan, bake for 75-85 minutes, or until a bamboo skewer inserted in the thickest part of the cake comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
7. Cool in the pan for 30 minutes, then place on wire rack to cool completely.
8. Dust with powdered sugar for garnish.

Please contact Karen McCann through her Facebook page Applause Food Show and Catering, (815) 520-2069 and [email protected] to book her for your next party.  And visit her retail store in Aledo (600 E. West Oak Drive, 76008) for quick meals, coffees and desserts.  Karen also offers a weekly chef-prepared meal service.