A Clam Bake Birthday!

Every summer for the last few years, we’ve always had a clam bake either with friends and family or just the two of us.  It’s a summer tradition.  I love having this seafood fest during this time of year.  Last year when we had the party, Christopher wanted to have the clam bake for his birthday.  A perfect way to end the summer.

Once we had decided on a date, I started looking on Pinterest for ideas on clam bakes, nautical and beachy themed parties.  Even though we have hosted this party before, I wanted to up the ante on this and I think I accomplished it.  I shopped at my usual go-to stores – Christmas Tree Shops, Michaels, Party City and Oriental Trading.  These stores never let me down whenever I’m planning a party!

I set up the party in the kitchen and deck areas.  I wanted people to mingle between these two areas to be able to enjoy the views of the lake from the deck and still have access to the food.  I used some decor items I already had and purchased a few more.

These centerpieces for the patio table were super easy to put together.  I already had the mason jars and found this garden bowl at Dollar Tree for a buck!  The sand I purchased on sale from Michaels for super cheap,  the sand dollars were from a seashell collection I already had and the votive candles are made with citronella – perfect for keeping the bugs away, but still adding that extra little detail.

This potter’s bench I am super proud of.  I saw an idea like this on Pinterest – using a potter’s bench as a beverage station or buffet server.  I loved the idea and I immediately knew who would be able to build one for me – my dad 😊. My dad is very handy and is always puttering around, more so now that he’s been retired for the last several years.  He was happy to build me one and it came out great! I love it!  So for the clam bake, I decided I would put the bar area outside on the deck and decided to make a strawberry peach sangria.  The perfect use of summer fruit and booze 😉. I liked the idea of serving it in mason jars and had a few available for our guests.  And of course – paper straws were used too!

For the birthday aspect of the party, I made a ‘Happy Birthday’ banner out of nautical themed card stock I saw at Michaels and strung it across my hutch with twine.  I set up a table for the dessert and decorated it with nautical themed items.  The gingham table cloth gave it that summer time feel as well and tied everything together.

The appetizers I displayed in the kitchen island.  I covered this as well with a gingham tablecloth  and scattered sand dollars on top.  The appetizer plates I saw on sale at Christmas Tree Shops and featured a nautical theme as well – they were perfect!  I made two appetizers and one of Christopher’s friends brought a beautiful sushi platter.

One of the appetizers was a warm crab dip that I served with crackers and triscuits.  Pretty easy to make as well.  This recipe consisted of five simple ingredients – cream cheese, mayonnaise, lump crab meat, Old Bay seasoning and topped with loads of cheddar cheese to form an even coating of delicious gooeyness.  Old Bay seasoning is a very popular seafood seasoning and used in a shrimp or crab boil as well.  Don’t be afraid to use it, it gives a tangy seafood taste that can season anything!  I’ve even seen recipes on Pinterest for Old Bay French fries.

The other appetizer I made was ragin’ crab balls that were absolutely delicious.  They were little bites of seafood heaven that were served with a spicy crab dip.  One recommendation: chop the lump crab meat into tiny pieces or buy the shred style crab, it will make it easier to form the balls and allow the balls to stick together.  A lot of my balls were falling apart as soon as they were placed in the hot oil  which became frustrating because I like to serve everything perfect or almost perfect 😉

Now for the main event.  While I was busy in the kitchen finishing up these appetizers, Christopher was busy tending to the crab boil.  There are several styles of seafood boils out there such as Louisiana, New England and Low Country.  We always do a Low Country boil or shrimp/crab boil.  It’s pretty easy to do as well.  All you do is attach a propane tank (like what you would use for your grill) to a burner and place a large pot on top with a steaming basket inside and boil water that’s seasoned with Old Bay.  Once the water has boiled, place corn on the cob, whole garlic and red potatoes in and allow to cook.  Once these are cooked through, add in the shrimp and crab and allow to cook which should only take a few minutes.  Do not overcook the seafood as it can be chewy.  Traditionally, the crab/shrimp boil is then served on newspaper for easy cleanup, however I used a galvanized party tub and that worked perfectly.  Serve with melted butter and voila! You’ve got yourself a Low Country boil!

The island served as a buffet for the rest of the food.  For the utensils, I made individual utensil holders with a bit of nautical flair. I used red gingham napkins and wrapped the napkin around a trio of silver toned plastic utensils and tied with twine and life saver to serve as a life preserver.  They were adorable!  We used red gingham rimmed paper plates to go along with the theme as well.

With the seafood boil, I served watermelon, Cheddar Bay biscuits and of course hamburgers and hot dogs for those that did not want seafood, which were very few 😉

The watermelon I cut in the shape of a clam.  I was searching on Pinterest for ideas and came across this and knew I had to make this!  And it wasn’t that hard to cut either!  Just cut the watermelon in half and scoop out the flesh with a melon baller.  Then using a sharp edged knife, cut the edges of both halves of the watermelon like a wave. Taking the top half, cut one side of the top down for when you ready to place it on the bottom half to make the opening wide enough to scoop out the fruit balls.  Stick a few toothpicks on the back part of the watermelon, place the top on and voila! You’ve got yourself a watermelon clam!

The cheddar bay biscuits I had made once before.  They’re actually really good and I do not make them from the box I know a lot of grocery stores sell.  These are homemade from a recipe that I found on Pinterest.  The only downfall to these was that I had used whole wheat flour and not all-purpose flour.  Use the all-purpose flour.  These biscuits are perfect with any seafood boil.

Here are some of Christopher’s friends and siblings enjoying all the delicious food!

Once we had all finished eating this seafood feast, it was time for dessert.  There were two things that Christopher had wanted for dessert – homemade chocolate peanut butter cupcakes and homemade zeppoles.  I took care of the cupcakes and his mom, Mary, took care of the zeppoles.

The cupcakes were a chocolate and peanut butter lover’s dream.  As many of you know already, chocolate and peanut butter are my two favorite food combinations.  And I was happy when Christopher asked me to make these cupcakes.  The chocolate cake was moist and flavorful.  The smooth and creaminess of the peanut butter frosting was to die-for.  And Christopher loved them too!

And here is Mary making her famous zeppoles.  These are fried balls of dough covered in powdered sugar.  A perfect summertime treat!

The other dessert that I made was a strawberry shortcake trifle.  I figured we had to have another dessert besides birthday cupcakes and zeppoles.  The trifle came out great!  I used store-bought angel food cake to save some time and used fresh strawberries with creamy whipped cream.  I brought the leftovers to work and everyone loved it!

And here is the birthday boy!

It was a great night celebrating Christopher’s birthday and the end of the summer. The low country boil is a great theme for any summer party.  The fresh seafood, sunshine, cool summer nights and spending time with family and friends.  These are the best kind of memories.




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