Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Happy Birthday to ME!

Photo from this party. Strawberry lemon cupcake recipe here.


Happy Birthday to ME! Wow. I am 32 years old now. Pretty cool ? I've had a good day so far. Breakfast in bed, slept in a bit longer, facebooked, blogged, visited with friends, and dinner at SmashBurger soon!

Last year I celebrated big by throwing myself a vintage themed French birthday party. It was a hit! I had a blast planning, hosting and being at it! Here is the party and some more inspiration here.  But this year I wanted to take it easy. My house looks like a tornado hit it. My life has been quite a whirlwind the past two months. Shall I expound? Okay.

Well, it really began about 15 months ago when I really started party planning. But let me cover the last two months first. You see, I received a BFA in acting years ago. It was my first passion in life for many years. And then I was able to wed and have children. It was still a passion but I tucked it away for a bit to have babies. Well, I've been able to be in three shows since my oldest was born 7 years ago. Three! An average of about every other year. Not bad but something I still love. So, I tried out for Anne of Green Gables at one of our community theaters and was cast as Marilla! I was terrified! I never dreamed of being Marilla. When I was younger I wanted to be Diana. And then I thought I could be a good Rachel. But then I was cast as Marilla. It's been fabulous!! I love the role, the play, the story. But it's been very time consuming. In addition to the play, I've been involved in a making a 20 minute video for my Church  Relief Society group, in addition to packing (we're moving in a month), in addition to buying and training our new pet puppy, in addition to overcoming a three week "cold", regular mother and wife duties, etc etc I have been so dizzy that my thoughts are not totally clear, I've forgotten simple things and I've been more short tempered (no, I am not pregnant, though it sounds like it, huh?) . But looking back beyond these last few months I've thought about the last year as the "Year of Parties" for me. I've hosted over 16 parties in the last 16 months! That's an average of one a month. It's been an exciting and busy year for sure. Here is a recap for you inspiration and pleasure!

























January






March--Relief Society Party. No images  because I was making the video! I had very little  to do with the decorating :) It was a Pioneer themed party. Heirloom quilts were displayed all over, we ate these Cafe Rio Style salads, and had white Ikea lanterns and wild flowers for centerpieces. It was lovely. 


So that has been my year! It's been fabulous. Busy. Exhausting at times. 

Will you keep planning parties? Yes, of course. 
Did you make any money? Nope. It's not a business. 
Do you love it? You betcha. 
When is your next one? Well....in two weeks I'll host a Western themed party for the Law Partners, an organization I am a part of at my hubby's school (he graduates in a month, did I mention that??). But it'll be pretty low key. I'll use a lot of the same elements from this party I did a few years ago, the first of my craze. 
Is your Etsy shop still open? Nope and hasn't been for over a year now. I am not sure when I'll re-open, to be honest.
Do you want to re-open your Etsy shop? Yes, but my priority is my family right now.
Will your kids birthday parties this year? Not like the ones of the past year. They get them at ages 4, 5, 7 and every other year after that, if they'd like. We celebrate with family on the even years. 
What is average budget or your parties? I try to keep it around $50

So that is what I've been up to. So FUN! Thanks for hanging out with me for the ride. Thank you for all the inspiration!



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Monday, March 26, 2012

BBQ Slow Cooker {frozen} Chicken

This recipe is soooo simple. I love it mainly because I can throw in frozen chicken, leave it and not worry about dinner that night. And it tastes great! Coupled with some coleslaw and baked beans, serve over a baked potato or even rice, this is a great recipe your whole family will love. Seriously. Bobby Flay's coleslaw is a nice, tangy addition to any shredded chicken or pork sandwich. We made it for our Super Bowl party this year too, and it was a big hit. 



BBQ Chicken, Slow Cooker style
Recipe from allrecipes
Yield: Serves 6-8

--6 frozen skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
--1 (12 ounce) bottle barbecue sauce (NOT cheap BBQ sauce, we prefer Sweet Baby Ray's)
--1/2 cup Italian salad dressing **
--1/4 cup brown sugar
--2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

**I did not have Italian dressing so I just added about 1/4 cup olive oil, couple tablespoons red-wine vinegar, some Mrs. Dash, 1/8 tsp smoked paprika, salt, and some garlic powder.

Throw all ingredients, except chicken, into a small bowl. Whisk together. Set aside. Add chicken to the crock pot. Pour sauce over chicken. Cook for 6-8 hours on LOW. If you have less time, cook 3-5 hours on high. Or start on high, for 2 hours and then reduce to low and cook for 3-4 more. The chicken must be 165 degrees to be safe to eat. Once meat is cooked, remove lid and shred chicken, using two forks and tearing. Keep crock-pot on warm or serve until ready to eat. Serve over rice, baked potato or ciabata roll or hamburger bun with coleslaw.

Bobby Flay's Lime-Cumin Coleslaw
Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Few dashes Bobby Flay's Hot Sauce, or your favorite
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

  • Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Set aside. 
Then prepare:
  • 3 carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 1 medium head green cabbage, shredded
  • 1 red bell pepper, julienned or chopped
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Salt and pepper
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, toss with the dressing and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cover and chill. Best if served chilled.
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Monday, March 12, 2012

St Patrick's Day Roundup

St Patrick's Day is only 6 days away.  How do you celebrate? Here are some ideas to help you out. My hubby will start his corned beef brisket tonight. He'll leave it covered in plastic and underneath a brick, turning it over everyday until Saturday, a recipe from Cooks Illustrated.  Can't wait for him to cook, er, to eat it!

Click on the photos below and they'll take you to a list of posts about St Patrick's Day related foods and crafts! Leprechaun hat cookies, rainbow noodle craft, painted treasure pots, mini rainbow pancakes, cake batter cookies, pesto pasta, pesto quiche, green eggs and ham, rainbow cupcakes, and white chili.


Crafts:




Food:




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Friday, March 9, 2012

Cake Batter Cookies


Cake Batter desserts seem to be a trend now. I've seen them in rice Krispie treats, popcorn, cupcakes, waffles, etc etc. These cookies have been around for years so I thought I'd try them again. In my opinion, homemade cookies are one of the best desserts around. I've been a "bar" kick lately (like these Rocky Road Brownie Bars and  these Butterscotch Cookie Dough Fudge Bars) but  I needed to make green cookies for these Leprechaun cookie hats and I had the ingredients laying around so I made them! And they worked great for the project!

I found these two recipes. Fluffier, thicker looking ones and thinner, flatter pudding version (work great for the Leprechaun edible craft) one. I used the pudding version with some modifications.  I would share the recipe but I lost count of the amount of flour I was using (which is why I think mine didn't turn out as fluffy). Then I added green food gel and sprinkles before baking. So check out their blogs for the recipes! 

Happy Birthday or St Patrick's Day!



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Monday, March 5, 2012

Rocky Road Brownie Bars


Okay, okay. So THIS is why I cannot lose weight. I love sugar too much. I crave sugar. I crave creating new, delicious and attractive treats. (and some...not so much delicious). This, however, I would call a success. I was never a fan of rocky road ice cream, for some reason. But in a fudge brownie bar form! Sure, I'll gobble it up. Watch out though. This is one rich beauty. Here's the recipe. You'll enjoy a crunchy almond crust. Gooey brownie middle with a rich fudge topping.


Rocky Road Brownie Bars
Yield: 20--3" bars




Ingredients:


Crust:
-1/3 cup butter, melted
-1 cup raw almonds, chopped finely until ground
-1 pkg (9 sheets) graham crackers, crushed

Brownie:
-1 box of your favorite brownies--substitute applesauce for oil OR your favorite homemade batch of brownies
-1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows--mini are preferable. I cut up these large ones I had leftover from this party.

Fudge:
-1 14 oz can Sweetened Condensed milk
-2 cups (12 oz bag) chocolate chips, semi-sweet
-1 T butter
-1 tsp vanilla

Topping:
-1/2 cup raw almonds, chopped coarsely
-1 cup marshmallows, preferably mini but large ones cut up into mini size will do too.

**Don't be deceived by the amount of directions. This is a super easy recipe just a lot of little nuances that make it delicious.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a glass 9x13 dish.

First, create the almond crust. In a small food processor, grind up graham crackers until they are fine crumbs. Set aside in a medium sized bowl. Then, add almonds to processor, a little at a time, and chop until almost as fine as the graham cracker crumbs. I like a little more crunch so I like to leave a few of the almonds more coarsely chopped. Add almonds to bowl of crumbs. Then add melted butter. Mix with a spoon until all the crumbs are wet with the butter. Pour into the glass dish. Spread and press with your fingers evenly across the bottoms of the dish. Refrigerate crust for 15 minutes.

Now, prepare brownies by following directions on the box, substituting applesauce for the oil. There are enough calories and chocolate without the oil. You won't even notice the difference. Pour brownie mixture over the almond crust. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until brownies are set, but still a little gooey. Just a tad.

In the meantime, prepare fudge topping. In a medium sized heavy bottomed saucepan, heat chocolate chips, butter and sweetened condensed milk until completely melted. Do not allow it to boil. Once melted, remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Set aside for a minute. Then chop remaining 1/2 cup almonds for topping. Chop these nuts, in a processor again, but not as finely as the crust. Keep them a bit larger. Add marshmallows (cut if not mini) to bowl and set aside.

Once the brownie is baked, remove from oven. Immediately top with remaining 1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows (or chunks of large mallow cut up). Then immediately pour hot fudge on top. Spread evenly with spatula or icing spatula. Then sprinkle marshmallows and nuts evenly over the top. Place in the oven for about 3-5 minutes to just barely melt the marshmallows. Remove from oven and cool on a cooling rack until reaches room. temperature. Once cooled cover with plastic wrap or lid and refrigerate. Chill for 1 hour or more. When ready to serve cut with a serrated knife. If knife gets goopy simply wipe clean with water and cut again.

Enjoy!

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Friday, March 2, 2012

St Patrick's Day Leprechaun Hat Cookie




Leprechaun Hat Treats!


Materials:
**Black frosting or decorating icing
**homemade cookies, dyed green
**Gold coins, chocolate
**Green (Easter bag) Reese's PB cups, mini
**Yellow dot sprinkle 
**Gold crystal sprinkles, optional


Sitting on a cotton-candy cloud, having just discovered a pile of gold, the lucky Leprechaun leaves his hat behind. Ah, that would be the life. 


Assembly:
First, make cookies (recipe to come later). Dye them green before baking. Shape into half dollar sized balls. They spread a lot. Roll cookies in gold glitter crystals. Bake. Once cooled,  simply glue, with the icing, the coin to the cookie. Then glue the candy to the coin. Then line the Reese's with black icing and finish off with a gold dot!


And serve in a little green pot or basket or pail thingy on top of more cotton candy clouds.



Featured on:


http://funfamilycrafts.com/st-patricks-day-cookie/

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Thursday, March 1, 2012

St Patrick's Day Noodle Rainbow Craft

Did you ever search for the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow when you were a kid? I admit, I never did, but I did hope there was one. I think rainbows are magical and incredibly beautiful. Maybe it's inspired by Wizard of Oz. I LOVE that film. Well, this week in my daughter's preschool class I wanted to teach the girls the order of the rainbow. Then they got to make their own with dyed noodles! I had these leftover from when the girls made bracelets (they are not edible, though look fun to enjoy).



I found the instructions on how to make your own food colored noodles on Pinterest. The secret? Use rubbing alcohol.  Once your noodles are dyed (you can use any shape or size of noodles) then outline your rainbow. I started with 7 lines for each color, to make it more accurate, but I forgot that I didn't have an "indigo" colored noodle. So trace 6 lines for a rainbow, using a small paper plate. Trace line with Elmer's glue. Let children place the colors on each line. Embellish with cotton ball clouds and a pot of gold at the end! 


I made the pot of gold using my Silhouette Cameo (great Christmas present!) and can you tell what the gold is? A Reese's candy wrapper. (I'll show the treat tomorrow associated with that). 


 The girls took much longer to create theirs......and strayed a bit from the rainbow concept.  But it was fun anyhow. I sent each girl home with their bag of beads so they could finish at their leisure.



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