1 pkg hot dogs
2 48 oz containers chicken broth
1 1/2 cup chopped chives
any vegetables i.e. carrots, celery, potato, zucchini, etc chopped
Bring broth, chives, and vegetables to a boil in a large pot. While pot comes to a boil cut hot dogs.
Cut hot dogs in half, then cut lengthwise from cut end up, leaving about an inch at the top for the octopus head, into quarters. Cut each “leg” in half- totallying 8 legs.
Add hot dogs to pot when broth has come to a boil and cook for 5 minutes more. The legs will curl. Serve placing octopus in the middle of the bowl.
Pork Chops and Sweet Potato Fries
6 pork chops
2 T steak seasoning
1 12oz bottle beer
1 18oz bottle of your favorite bbq sauce
2 onions, sliced
Sprinkle pork chops with steak seasoning and brown in a dutch oven. Once browned, remove from pan.
Pour into dutch oven beer, CAREFULLY! pan is hot. Stir beer scrapping all pork chop bits up. Add in bbq sauce, stir. Add back in pork chops. Add onions. Cover and simmer on low for at least 1 hour and up to 2. When pork is fork tender dinner is ready!
Sweet Potato Fries
heat oven to 425 degrees.
peel potatoes. cut potato into wedges. toss with olive oil. salt and pepper. put on a single layer on a baking sheet. cook 10 minutes a side.
Sweet and Sour Chicken with Steamed Broccoli and Rice
rice (wild, brown, or white), cooked
chicken tenders, cooked
2 T cornstarch
1/2 c water
1 8oz can drained pineapple, reserve juice
1/4 c apple cider vineagar
1 cup sugar
1/2 c crushed tomatoes
2 medium carrots, chopped
Stir reserved pineapple juice, vinegar, sugar, tomatoes into a saucepan over medium heat for 2-3 minutes.
Whisk cornstarch and water in a bowl until cornstarch is completely dissolved. Stir into pineapple mixture.
Stir in pineapple and carrots into sauce. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook at a simmer until sauce thickens, about 5 minutes.
Use sauce for dipping or poured over cooked chicken. This sauce is great over rice and broccoli.
*My kid only likes the broccoli stems, if your kid only likes the stems cut off florets for you and let them dunk stem into sauce.
Parmesan Tilapia and Steamed Peas
1/2 c Parmesan cheese
1/4 c butter, softened
3 T egg free mayonnaise
2 T lemon juice
1/2 tsp chopped basil
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp celery salt
2 pounds tilapia fillets
Preheat broiler and grease or cover with alumnium foil your broiler pan.
In a medium bowl mix all ingredients together and set aside.
In a single layer arrange fillets on broiler pan. Broil for 1-2 minutes per side then remove. On top side cover with mixture and broil for 1 minute more. Careful not to overcook the fish!
Serve with steamed peas.
It’s birthday party week at our house. The week where all my planning since January comes to life. Yes, January…for a kid’s party. It gives me something to do in the cold months. Plus I cannot stand to be panicked in the last moments. If I do it leisurely I get to enjoy it more.
This year my son is obsessed with Halloween and to take it a step further “The Nightmare Before Christmas”. In January when I asked him what kind of party theme he wanted he of course replied “Halloween!”. Yea. Halloween, the week before St. Patrick’s Day for a birthday party. What else could the theme be?!
So I got to planning…..
Invitations are adorable. I had a woman on Etsy design them for me
Then I got black envelopes and a silver pen to address the invites from Michaels Arts and Crafts. I bought silver wax and sealed each envelope with our monogram. And bought these from Zazzle. Pretty cute right?
We could host the party at the house. Since I refuse to buy furniture till we do the work we need to do inside, it has a lot of space and since we haven’t painted the walls yet I could do whatever to them. We had an invite list of 31 kids (yes, 31) I decided to divide them up into teams and set up different Halloween themed stations around the house. Fortunately we wound up with 14 “yes’” plus some siblings. Which was a good number. They played well with each other and had fun.
We had a jack-o-lantern bean bag toss, a spider ring toss, “Bone Bender” (the Halloween version of Twister), an eyeball/spoon race, pin the nose on the jack-0-lantern, make a ghost craft- with your foot (also to be used as the thank you cards), body parts, bobbing for balloons (in a blow up coffin), and Monster Mash (freeze dance and musical chairs). I enlisted some parents as team captains and each team has a Halloween name.
I had it set that each team plays 4 games (approx. 40 mins) then take a snack/bathroom break. Snack is Pumpkin Popcorn Balls and Mummy Juice Boxes. Then after a 15-20 minute break back into teams for 4 more games. Then it is time for the cake. After cake they can run amuck at any of the games they want until their parents take them away. Putting us at a 3 hour party.
Last year between a uncalibrated oven and my neuropathy my cake came out less than perfect. Feel free to check out past years’ cakes here. This year I needed to go more wow factor without the frosting work so I went for a creative inside. I did a two tier cake, the bottom tier had 9 alternating layers of chocolate and white cake (dyed orange) and the top tier had 7. I put chocolate ganache between each layer. Then frosted with a vegan butter cream dyed orange. I heaped a large amount of chocolate ganache on top to the cake and slowly spread it to the edges allowing it to drizzle down the cake naturally. I topped the cake with a Jack Skellington figurine I had found on the internet which would be later given to my kid as part of his present.
For party favors I made marshmallow ghosts (I did change the recipe a bit, I will post the better tasting recipe in a later post), then an individual size chocolate bar, and graham crackers to make your own s’mores….and a spider ring because who doesn’t like a spider ring? I bought orange scrapbook paper and cut it the width of the cellophane bags and bought scrapbook decorations to hot glue to the label. A couple of staples to seal it and done.
Since my little Spook was dressing up as Jack Skellington from “The Nightmare Before Christmas” I needed a suit and the trademark bat tie. I was lucky enough to stumble upon a consignment shop one day while I was shopping at an antique store next door. They actually had a nice pinstripe suit in my son’s size. I could not have gotten any luckier! For the tie I used a piece of black sparkly craft paper for the wings, then used silver glitter paint for enhancements. I cut two slits in the middle of the cut out “wings” and slid a black ribbon through to use to tie it on comfortably. Then I took a black pom pom, glued some googly eyes and leftover triangles for ears and glued that on top of the ribbon/middle of the wings for the bat head. I didn’t do any make up on his face since that itches kids and I didn’t want any of the younger guests scared. He didn’t care, in his mind he was Jack Skellington.
Happy Halloween Birthday to my favorite spooky 5 year old!
And now I relax before I start to focus on our Housewarming Party this summer. Motivation to get moving on the work we need to be done!
This week I am going in to my kid’s preschool class to make a carrot cake with them for their Easter Party. I had to do a test run before my big appearance at school, especially since I wasn’t making the normal cream cheese frosting so I could make it safe for my own kid. I was hesitant to use tofutti cream cheese, although very acceptable in our own house I thought it would take away from the carrot cake at school. Although I wound up using Pilsbury Cream Cheese frosting (a little unnerving that there is no actual dairy in the frosting by the way) and used some extracts to jazz it up.
I am not a huge fan of carrot cake, I went through a phase for about a year when I was a kid that I loved it, but it was short lived and now only make it per request. The carrot cake I am sharing with you today won’t be an “on request only”- it was delicious!
|Carrot Cake cooling in pan|
|Getting ready to get frosted
Frosted, with experimental sugar work (using a cookie cutter to outline)
makes twenty-four 2-inch squares
For the Cake
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg*
¼ teaspoon ground cloves*
½ teaspoon salt
8 peeled carrots
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
2 cups applesauce
1 ½ cups canola oil
1 cup currants or semisweet chocolate chips
*I actually use my “secret ingredient” Chinese Five Spice instead
For the Frosting
½ cup butter, at room temperature
½ cup cream cheese, at room temperature
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
For the Cake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13×9 inch baking pan with nonstick baking spray.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
Shred the carrots in a food processor using a shredding blade. Place the carrots on top of the combined dry ingredients. DO NOT MIX TOGETHER!
Wipe out the food processor bowl and add the metal blade. Process the granulated and dark brown sugars, applesauce, and canola oil until well combined.
Pour the sugar mixture into a mixing bowl. Add carrots and dry ingredients and, using an electric mixer, mix on medium speed. Add your choice of currants or chocolate chips to the batter and mix on low speed to distribute evenly. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, and continue mixing until well combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time. (If you found the carrots “watery” when shredding, extra baking time may be required) Test by inserting a toothpick into the middle to make sure cake is done.
Cool the cake in the baking pan. Cooled cake may be removed from or left in the baking pan.
Frost with cream cheese frosting.
For the Frosting
In a bowl, and using an electric mixer, beat the butter, cream cheese, vanilla, and lemon extract on medium speed until well combined. Slowly add the confectioners’ sugar. Mix until smooth and creamy.
Store the frosting, covered, in the refrigerator, until ready to spread on cooled cake.
In other Easter Party preparations there is an Egg Drop the day of the Easter Party. Prizes for Most Creative, Most Recyclable, Most Scientific, and Biggest Splat. Here’s our entry:
|Used a carvable foam egg, white feathers, white and pink pompoms, glittered foam, black pipe cleaners, and jiggly eyes
Carved a hole in the back for the egg, filled with bubble wrap and edible Easter grass as a nest for the egg
Made the parachute from a floral patterned vinyl tablecloth