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This baby is 4.  Where oh where did the time go?!

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He is really REALLY into Legos… and not the mega blocks or Duplos… he likes the big boy Legos!

This year he requested a Star Wars Lego party.  It’s fun to see him so passionate about something. Well, he first requested a superhero-starwars-Chima-angrybird-transformers-Lego party, but I managed to talk him into narrowing it down a little.

A lot of the decor was compliments of Pinterest.

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As were the party favors which were Lego bags made from small paper sacks and circle card stock.  The Lego men and block crayons were made using some cute molds and melting down black and red crayons bought on Amazon (I didn’t have enough broken red/black crayons since those are his favorite colors and he always uses them up).

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His cake was a red velvet and yellow cake, with butter cream and white chocolate filling.  I made it in the shape of Clone Captain Rex’s helmet following a YouTube video tutorial, but changed his coloring from blue to red to accommodate Luke’s favorite color.  I also covered it in homemade marshmallow fondant (soooo much tastier than the store-bought gunk) and used the fondant for his helmet decorations.

20140710_180600 20140710_18060620140710_082041P1130589 P1130540 P1130541I used an edible ink marker to outline his mask, and Luke wanted in on the cake-writing, so I let him autograph the back….. that’s also where it’s especially apparent that this is only my 3rd fondant cake and I have a lot to learn.

P1130542 P1130591We had a fun time naming the food. My awesome graphic design sister made them for me (see her Etsy shop for those and more birthday printables).

P1130588 P1130587 P1130586 P1130535The kiddos beat the heat by splashing in the kiddie pools and slip n’ slides.

P1130563 P1130557 P1130560 P1130550The party ended with our homemade Darth Vader pinata being bashed by lightsaber noodles.

P1130624 P1130630Much fun was had by all, and one 4-year-old is neck-high is presents and Legos :)

Next year we’re going to Chick-fil-A and taking a family nap for his birthday.  I’m tired.

Links:

Clone Captain Helmet Cake Tutorial

Food card tents

Lego men & block molds

Lego man graphic

Star Wars Font

 

 

 

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A month ago, my baby turned 1!!!
Where did the time go?!

The past year has been a wild ride! I’ve heard it said before, but didn’t always believe, that the jump from 1 child to 2 is crazy!

And crazy indeed it was.

And yet, here we are, a year later, all alive, all healthy, and much to be thankful for.

After perusing Pinterest for a while, I decided to do a non-theme party and instead chose a color scheme as the theme.

I used an embroidery hoop and hung streamers and ribbons from it to make an outdoor decoration. And added balloons for fun.
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This pin inspired some of the color palette and the tassel garlands.
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Her name in gold tacks was another Pinterest project.See the inspiration here.
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My sweet husband found and printed out some Bible blessings that we framed and placed on the mantel.
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I made a thank you sign by cutting letters out of card stock and hot-gluing them to gold ribbon. Then I took an empty frame, taped streamers to the back, and added the sign.
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I dipped pretzel rods in vanilla candy melts and used sprinkles for some color. Then I used the Wilton Pretzel bags and some decorative paper tape to make some really easy favors.
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I made balloon “wands” for the kiddos to play with, adapted from a tutorial by StudioDIY blog, one of my new fave blogs!
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To make these sliders, I used a meatball recipe found on Pinterest. Then I bought some half-baked dinner rolls from Wal-mart. I baked them as directed, then split them open to make top and bottom halves. I placed them under the broiler to toast them, this kept the meatball sauce from absorbing too quickly and making them soggy. Once broiled, I placed a meatball and sauce on the bottom half and topped with a slice of fresh mozzarella. Then again added this to the broiler to melt the cheese. Once melted, I topped with just a little more sauce and put the tops on. I didn’t get to taste one because they went fast, but I hear they were great!
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I used this recipe for the Italian Pressed sandwiches. I mostly stuck to the ingredients, except that I used 1/3 lb each of salami, pepperoni, and ham.
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Individual cakes were made using a vanilla cake mix, using food coloring to achieve the perfect mint hue. Then I baked it in an 11×17 sheet pan so the cake would only be about 1″ tall once baked.  I used a cookie cutter to make 2″ rounds, and used raspberry jam for the center. I made a vanilla buttercream for the topping which I dyed to match the cake. The toothpick toppers were made out of regular toothpicks and crepe paper streamers.
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“Is that for me??!!”
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A family picture. Yes, Batman lives here.
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Kisses!
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An outfit change had to be made after the cake smash. One must always have a tutu on reserve just in case!
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We had some cute babies in attendance!
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benjamin

gifts

See this collection of cookbooks?

Most of the time they are ignored, unappreciated, used as eye-candy on my hutch…

But every now and then I remember they exist, and I will read one… like a novel, seriously, start to finish… my eyes glazing over when I get to the end (hello dessert section!!)…

This particular day I was reading one of my favs “mediterranean: food of the sun” by Jacqueline Clark and Joanna Farrow.

And on the front it has this description:

… a culinary tour of sun-drenched shores with evocative dishes from southern Europe” GAH!!! drooooool…. yes, I do want to go on this culinary tour with you Jacqueline & Joanna!

And I have done just that many times!  I have read this cookbook start to finish at least 10 times… and I have only made one recipe from it.. shame…

But it was a perfect storm (extra time and all ingredients on hand)  that inspired me to make one of their appetizers…

If you are even the tiny-est bit interested in cheese,  this one’s gonna make you weak in the knees!

Yogurt Cheese:

The process starts with drying out your yogurt for 2-3 days in cheesecloth… I used non-fat plain yogurt for my first batch….
I think Greek yogurt will work better because it has a lower water content and will give you more cheese…

Then you roll the cheese into balls…. and place in sterilized jars (I used a jelly jar) along with rosemary, thyme, red pepper flakes and garlic- flavored olive oil.

Isn't it a sight?!

Then you spread on bread..

drizzle extra olive oil and watch it slowly drip onto the bread………. oh my……

take a BIG bite! creamy, tangy, garlicky… ohhhh

Have for breakfast, lunch and dinner! (do not let hubby know about this… blame the half-empty jar on cheese-loving baby)
p.s. would also make GREAT gifts for hostess or friends.. or heck, the cheese alone is an occasion!

…here’s a peek at the recipe….

Inside this beautiful cookbook

Aren't the pictures fabulous?!

Today’s basket of goodies from Urban Acres included some gorgeous swiss chard in a rainbow of colors.

I hate to admit it, but I have never had swiss chard before today. I love leafy greens, but I didn’t grow up eating swiss chard, so I never think about it at the grocery store. But I will definitely be eating it more in the future!

Since I didn’t have a go-to recipe, I quickly searched for one online. I found a recipe for Bacon and Swiss Chard Pasta. I didn’t have all the ingredients, but I had variations of all of them. Here is my version. Seriously the best pasta recipe I have ever made! So yummy and healthy too! and easy!

Turkey Bacon and Swiss Chard Spaghetti
(serves 6)
1 pound spaghetti
12 ounces turkey bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
1/2 large white onion, halved, sliced
2 large bunches Swiss chard, stemmed, chopped (about 12 cups) – It seems like a lot, but it cooks down to a quarter of it’s starting volume
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, extra 2 tsp or so for sauteing.
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook spaghetti in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, add a splash of olive oil and turkey bacon to a heavy large pot over medium heat. Since turkey bacon does not have a lot of fat, the olive oil helps to brown it and also keeps it from burning. Transfer turkey bacon to small dish once you have browned it.

Add onion to the pot in which you cooked the bacon. If the onions begin to burn or stick, you can add more olive oil or pasta water, a splash at a time. Saute the onions over medium-high heat until softened, about 7 minutes. Add Swiss chard and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add pasta cooking liquid to skillet. Toss until chard is wilted and tender, about 4 minutes. Sprinkle vinegar over; cook 1 minute.
Add spaghetti and oil to sauce in pot and toss to coat. Transfer to large bowl. Sprinkle with bacon and cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Enjoy!

There’s nothing more comforting than soup… except in 100° weather, which is what we’re having here in the great state of Texas.

But the baby still likes soup best of all. And it’s a great way to sneak veggies in his diet.

My neighbor from our previous home, Rosi, has been watching Luke on the random days that I have to work.  And she INSISTS that I must make him soup everyday.  Otherwise I am a “bad mother”, ha.  Well, it turns out he really likes soup, even the ones with spinach in them.

Luke and the Soup-Nazi, Rosi :)

The best thing about soup is that practically any veggie can be tossed into a flavorful broth to make a soup.

This week our Urban Acres veggie box included beautiful organic beets and yellow wax potatoes.  I love beets, but my mother’s beet soup is my favorite. The best way to describe it is, a Romanian version of the Russian soup, borscht.  It’s my favorite not only because it tastes pretty darn good, but it always brings back a flood of memories from my crazy, hectic childhood home.

So I called my mom today and got her recipe.  I didn’t do everything exactly how she said, but close! Here is my version.  Yummy!

Almost Mom's Beet Soup

Almost Mom’s Beet Soup

  • 3 medium beets, peeled & grated (use large grater or food processor)*
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 3 medium yellow waxy potatoes, chopped
  • 10-12 cups, beef broth (or chicken/ veggie)
  • 1/2 head cabbage, shredded (optional)**
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 Tb. white vinegar***
1. Drizzle some olive oil in a soup pot.  With heat on medium high, add celery, onion & carrots to pot.  Saute until veggies begin to soften.
2. Divide shredded beets in half.  Add one half of the beets, broth, & potatoes to pot.  Bring to a boil.  Then cover, reduce heat and simmer for 30 min or until veggies are tender.
3. While the soup is simmering, take the remaining beets and saute with just a little oil over medium-low heat until tender.  This is a trick my mom told me… the beets that are boiling in the big pot will give off all their color.  Introducing these sautéed beets later will retain the beautiful fuchsia color of the beets.
4.  Once the veggies in the large pot are tender, add the cabbage and sautéed beets.  If soup is a little thick, add additional broth or water to the pot.  Bring to a boil and simmer another 15 minutes until the cabbage is tender.
5. Taste the soup and add salt & pepper as desired.
6. Add vinegar to soup for a touch of sourness.
* Wear gloves when handling beets, unless you don’t mind fuchsia-finger syndrome.
**I had cabbage that needed to be used, but cabbage is also used in traditional borscht recipes.
***Mom says you can also use a can of diced tomatoes, or chopped & peeled fresh tomatoes.  They are added when the cabbage is added.

Although the details of Sarah’s Baby shower were great, the real stars of the shower were the ladies.  Everyone came in their best hats, and some even made their own.

The guest of honor, Sarah.

(From left going clockwise: Crystal, Rebecca, Viry, Kelsi, Sarah, Olivia, Kathy, Me, Olga, Marice, and little Isabel.

 

(From left going clockwise: Kelly, Morgan, Laura, Lynda, Natalie, Joanna)

The lovely Morgan made this awesome fascinator herself! So talented!

Laura, wearing the awesome fascinator her friend made for her. And who can resist the cutest lady of them all?! Baby Isabel!

We just got our second round of produce from our local produce co-op, Urban Acres, YUM!

This week’s lot included all local, organic produce. We had squash, zucchini, cucumbers, mini plum tomatoes, onions, baby red potatoes, peaches, cantaloupe and beets? (i think they’re beets)

I made whole wheat linguine with yellow squash & zucchini along with my mother’s tomato & cucumber salad. Both recipes took under 20 min combined! That’s one of my favorite things about cooking vegetarian, it’s fast!

Whole wheat pasta with Yellow squash & Zucchini

Whole Wheat linguine with Yellow Squash & Zucchini (2-3 servings)

  • 3 oz. whole wheat linguine
  • 1 yellow squash, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 zucchini, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 Tb grated parmesan (optional)
  • Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
Boil pasta in salted water for 6 minutes.  Add chopped zucchini & squash to boiling pasta.  Continue to boil until pasta & veggies are cooked, about 2-3 minutes.
Drain pasta, reserving a little water with the pasta.  This will act as your sauce.
Toss pasta with parmesan and red pepper.
Eat!

Mom's Tomato & Cucumber Salad

Mom’s Tomato & Cucumber Salad (2-3 servings)
  • 2 large tomatoes or 1/2 pint of baby tomatoes, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 large cucumber, halved & sliced (peeling optional)
  • 1/4 of yellow onion, sliced thinly (optional)
  • 1.5 Tb white vinegar*
  • 1 Tb olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste
*can substitute white wine, red wine, balsamic, or champagne vinegars
Mix veggies in large bowl.  Pour vinegar and oil over veggies.  Add salt & pepper.  Mix well.
Taste & add more vinegar or salt if still bland. (I gave my best estimate in the measurements, but I usually just eyeball it)
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