Tuesday, April 19, 2011

paper & cake

Recently I entered a giveaway and won a gift certificate to an amazing printable partyware company called paper & cake and Edible Details (which I talk about in the Scooby post here.).

If you, like me, avoid pre-packaged character parties, you will love paper & cakes's adorable designs and affordable designs. I adore her printable parties and cannot wait for our next birthday party in July for Miss Madeline. Madeline likes Abigail's Fairy Wonderland printable party and I adore the Alice in Wonderland printable party. I also think the Pirate printable party is one of the cutest boy parties I have ever seen. I think I know what Zach's 2nd birthday party theme will be!

Do check her site out, as well as her blog for great ideas! Thanks, Abigail!

Zoinks!: A Scooby Doo Birthday Party

For Pickle's fifth birthday party, she choose a Scooby Doo theme. Now, I am not a big fan of theme partyware, so I typically end up making my own decorations. Luckily we have a ton of Scooby Doo dolls, and with a few strategically placed tissue paper pom pom flowers in aqua, orange and lime, the party was festive, pretty and Scooby Doo without going overboard.

To occupy the kiddos, we had an art activity using groovy foam flowers and smiley faces I found at my local hobby store and craft store. Kept those little hands busy!

We also played pin the ears on Scooby, which the kids loved. I bought a sheet of brown foam that was sticky on the back and cut out triangle-shaped ears. Then, I found a large headshot of Scooby Doo, clipped off his ears in Photshop and printed it out on cardstock. It was really fun for the kids.

Now for the fun stuff—the food! To compliment our Scooby Doo theme, I served Mummy Dogs, Monster Jaws, Spooky 7-Layer Dip, Scooby Snacks crackers and Scooby's favorite food—pizza! I created food and beverage labels using clipart of Scooby Doo villains. We had Odious Oreo Surprise Cupcakes, Petrifying Pizza, Revolting Root Beer, Ominous Orange Soda ... you get the idea. My favorite was the Spooky 7-Layer Dip. I piped on a sour cream spider web and decorated it with plastic spiders. The food was a huge hit, and everyone thought it was hilarious. I found much of my food inspiration from Our Best Bite's Halloween Party Food post. Great ideas!

Since Pickle had her birthday party, I'll share one of the cupcake recipes I used that was amazing. Usually I prefer to avoid making things from a box, but I wanted to save some time since a few of the food items served were a bit labor intensive. I heard great things about this basic recipe from (guess who?!?) Our Best Bites, and I have to say it did not disappoint!
They were so incredibly moist, and our guests raved about them. I will definitely be keeping this recipe as a back-up when things are hectic and saving a little time is worth the box mix shortcut.

And, A BIG thank you goes out to Edible Details for the amazing Mystery Machine fondant cupcake toppers. How cute are they? They were a big hit with the birthday girl and all of her friends. Thanks, Brittany of Edible Details!

White Cake Mix Cupcakes
Adapted from Our Best Bites

  • 1 white cake mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 C Greek yogurt (for the extra protein!)
  • 1/2 C milk
  • 1/3 C vegetable oil

Combine all ingredients until incorporated (about 30 seconds). Scrape sides of bowl and then beat on med-high speed for 2 minutes.

Bake according to the package directions.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Naturally Green St. Patrick's Day Smoothies

For St. Patrick's Day I decided to whip up some green smoothies that were healthy and didn't rely on yucky food coloring for the green. My kids devoured these, and then begged for more!

Naturally Green St. Patrick's Day Smoothies

  • 1 cup of strawberry or blueberry kefir
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 handful of washed, fresh spinach leaves
  • 3-5 ice cubes
  • Agave nectar or honey to taste
  • 1 cube of frozen wheat grass (optional)
    Throw all ingredients in a blender and sweeten with the agave nectar or honey until sweet enough for your taste.

    Makes 2 servings.

    Verdict: I had happy kiddos! And, it felt great knowing I squeezed some greens in them. We will be making this again. Maybe even tomorrow!

    By the way, I found the frozen wheat grass cubes in the frozen section at Whole Foods near the juices.

    Monday, March 7, 2011

    Spinach and Feta Hummus

    My kids love hummus, and I thought this recipe for Spinach and Feta Hummus sounded amazing. Plus it would be a great way to get some green veggies in my kids. Wishful thinking!

    Verdict: complete failure. My husband didn't like it either. And for the record: it is good. I don't know what it wrong with them! So, now I get to enjoy a lifetime supply of Spinach and Feta Hummus.

    You can find the recipe for it at The Tasty Kitchen Blog.

    Saturday, March 5, 2011

    Orzo Stuffed Peppers

    One of my favorite blogs, Our Best Bites, mentioned an amazing Nutella cookie recipe by a fellow blogger, and as soon as I saw that I was hooked on Two Peas and Their Pod. Such amazing recipes!

    So when I saw this recipe for Orzo Stuffed Peppers, I had to try it. It features my favorite things: peppers, pasta, spinach and cheese. Yum!

    Orzo Stuffed Peppers
    Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 small onion, chopped
    • 5 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 cups fresh spinach leaves, roughly chopped
    • 2 (14 ounce can) cans diced tomatoes
    • 4 cups vegetable broth or 4 cups of water and 2 veggie broth cubes
    • 1 1/2 cups orzo
    • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, plus more for sprinkling on top
    • 1/3 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for sprinkling on top
    • Salt and pepper, to taste
    • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
    • 6 sweet bell peppers (red, yellow, or orange)
    1. Preheat the oven to 400° F.
    2. In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for two more minutes. Stir in the spinach. Cook until spinach is wilted. Remove from heat.
    3. Pour the tomatoes into a large bowl and stir in the spinach mixture. Set aside.
    4. Meanwhile, bring the vegetable broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the orzo and cook for five minutes. The orzo should be only partially cooked because it will finish cooking in the oven. Strain the orzo pasta, making sure you save the vegetable broth.
    5. Stir the orzo into the tomato spinach mixture. Stir in the cheese and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the basil.
    6. Pour the vegetable broth into a 3-quart baking dish. Slice the tops off the peppers and remove all ribs and seeds. Cut a very thin slice from the base so the peppers will stand up in the baking dish.
    7. Place the peppers in the baking dish and spoon the orzo mixture into the peppers. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 40- 45 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle the top of each pepper with additional cheese and continue baking until the cheese is golden, about 15 minutes.
    8. Remove from the oven and let peppers sit for five minutes. Serve warm.

    Makes 6 stuffed peppers

    The verdict: I changed the recipe slightly to accommodate what I had on hand and to make it more kid-friendly by increasing the cheese. Zach and I loved it. He couldn't get enough orzo. Pickle ate it, but she was just doing it to get dessert. My two year-old Miss M. wouldn't touch it and opted to go to bed instead (sigh). Hubby ate the orzo stuffing but refused to eat the pepper. You can't win them all! I thought it was wonderful. Thanks, Two Peas!

    Homemade Granola Bars

    These homemade granola bars are amazing. Sweet, salty, healthy and perfect for kids. All three of my little ones gobbled them up!

    Homemade Granola Bars
    Adapted from Allrecipe's Playgroup Granola Bars

    • 2 cups rolled oats
    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup wheat germ
    • 3/4 cup craisins
    • 1/2 cup golden raisins
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 cup agave nectar
    • 1 egg, beaten
    • 1/3 cup natural peanut butter
    • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9x13 inch baking pan with foil and generously grease the foil.
    2. In a large bowl, mix together all of the ingredients using your hands. Pat the mixture evenly into the prepared pan.
    3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until the bars just begin to turn golden at the edges. Cool for 5 minutes, then using the foil, gently lift the bars out of the pan. Cut into individual bars while still warm. Do not allow the bars to cool completely before cutting, or they will be too hard to cut.

    Thursday, March 3, 2011


    Despite my best intentions to feed my family awesome, healthy meals, somehow, whether because I was tired or the fact that I feel like I've been pregnant for four years straight, I lost the will to fight anymore and began making several different things for my kids instead of making just one meal for us to enjoy.

    It's tiring. My food is always cold, I never get to eat with everyone else, and I'm fed up with enabling their pickiness, So, today begins our new adventure of expanding our palates!

    There will be some challenges:
    • We are vegetarians. We do eat eggs and dairy products, but no meat. I won't get into why we don't eat meat or lecture anyone about dietary choices. Let's just say that if you are vegetarian or looking for some kid-friendly meatless dishes, welcome!
    • We live in a small town. A really small town. These need to be meals with easily found ingredients, organic and/or local when possible.
    • My son has soy and dairy allergies, so meals need to be allergy-friendly.
    • We are Dave Ramsey fans, and though I adore beans and rice, we'll be branching out a bit but still staying within our budget.
    • The greatest challenge by far will be working with (against) kids who are used to having their way.
    The force is strong with this one, so using a good sense of humor, awesome powers of persuasion and even involving them in the process, I think I will succeed. OK, some of the time. Let the battle begin!