Friday, September 29, 2017

Ethan turns 9! {A Mad Scientist Party}

 We have officially entered into Ethan's final year in the single digits.  I can honestly say that it has been an amazing 9 years of watching him grow into his own person.  He had a really hard time deciding on a theme until we looked at this one.  Ohhh, the excitement!  He wanted one last themed party (because this mom is getting tired!) and he wanted to go out with a bang.  I by bang, I mean make things explode!

This party was a lot of fun to put together and actually really simple because most of the experiments use things that are laying around the house.  I bought some fun artwork and got to work on designing his invitation and started pinning ideas from other people's science parties. . . thanks Pinterest!  We stocked up on glue and pencils during back to school sales, which saved us a lot of money. 

 We had the party in the early evening so we could set up outside.  We ended up with some great weather this year and the shade made it so nice in the backyard.  Also, the triple digits took a break for the party, so that was so nice.  We ordered a bunch of pizza from Dominos to feed these hungry 9 year olds.  I thought they would eat more, but they were having so much fun, they only ate a little!  Crazy boys!  We also had rice krispy treat molecules,  sugar cookies, jello and candy.  Ethan wanted ice cream sandwiches for dessert. . . so easy!

 The set up outside was fun.  I had coloring sheet, safety glasses, glow sticks, pencils, and crayons. We had corn hole set up for the kids to play while Ethan's friends arrived.  The kids invented a new game called "full contact corn hole" because 9 year old boys. 
While they ate pizza, they made their name tags by putting their finger prints in the box and writing their name in the rectangle.  Then, we safety pinned them to their shirts to make them official scientists. 
We also did some science mad libs.  (BTW, read pussy - as in Puss-y. . . it looks way bad when you don't know).  And again.  9 year old boys (and a girl. .  who threw in some fart and poopy comments just as much as the boys!). 

 Can I just say Dry Ice is amazing!  We put it in the punch and did a few experiments with it.  Oh, the excitement!  The Punch was just Blue Hawaiian Punch, Pineapple Juice, and 7-Up.  The kids drank it like it was the most magical thing in the whole world! 
 We kicked off the experiments with Diet Coke and Mentos.  The looks on their faces says it all.  I mean, how cool is exploding diet coke? 
 More Dry Ice.  We put it in a big bowl of water and talked about the states of matter.  (Shh. . . these third and fourth graders may have learned something. . . insert evil cackle here).   Then we put some dawn in it and watched it bubble.  This was kind of mind blowing for them. 
 Then, we made flubber with some glue, water, and borax.  I know that some people are super scared of the stuff, but there really isnt anything to be scared of. . . unless you eat it or sniff it like one would do to get high.  I talk about it here in this post.  Flubber is super easy because you pour some glue in a container, and then add some water with borax already mixed in.  Then it gets stirred for a bit. . . the reaction is instant. Once it's solid and slimy, you just knead it together and it cleans up itself.  It's really amazing.  We let them pick their own colors.
 The next activity involved more candy.  Really, I am sure these parents hated me once they got home.  They made molecules out of gum drops, marshmallows, and toothpicks using these printables.  Again. . . they may have learned something (oops!).  These two are showing off their salt molecules.

I had a paper bag for each kid that had all they could put their stuff inside.  That made it easy for them when they went home and it also helped us go from one activity to another. 

 The last activity we did was Elephant Toothpaste and that was also a lot of fun and possibly mind blowing.  It's amazing what some dish soap, water, and yeast will do! 
 These kids were so much fun!  I am so thankful Ethan has made some great friends.  And this party was so much fun!  We finished it off with ice cream sandwiches, presents and basketball.  By the end of the night everyone was a hot, sweaty mess, but we had so much fun!
As the kids left, we sent them off with a bottle of glue and the directions to make no-fail slime (the contact solution kind).

So, this party was so much fun to do.  The boys are still talking about it! Now to start looking up ideas for Weston's birthday. 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Pumpkin Spice Cake

 Some days call for cake.  I mean, there are some days where cake makes everything better.  There are days where we just need to celebrate something.  I tend to not make a lot of cakes just because they are sooo big and we eat it once or twice and the rest just goes to waste. I really like small cakes that are just for snacking.  Super simple.  One bowl.  No frosting.  Just mix, bake, cool, devour. 

Last week, I got brave and decided to make a cake. . . on instagram.  Some of you may have tuned in.  It was the first day of fall and there was a can of pumpkin puree just screaming: "MAKE SOMETHING!!!"  So, I dug out a recipe binder I started in college and found this recipe that I thought was already on the blog.  It wasn't.  Bummer for everyone (until now) because it's kind of amazing.  This recipe took under 5 minutes to whip up the batter and stick in the oven.  One bowl cakes are the best!  I've made this recipe for new mom's because it's easy, you can go buy small pans that you don't have to worry about getting back, and it's really, really good. 

If you wanted to take it a step further, you could easily make a cream cheese  frosting.  That would be wonderful.  But, that's another bowl to clean and well. . . do you really want to go down that road? Really, dust it with some powdered sugar, top with some cool whip.  Maybe even sprinkles some pumpkin pie spice or nutmeg if you want to impress someone. 

If you need some music to play, I highly recommend this one that I found.  I blame our pastor for putting the words to the hymn Amazing Love up on the screen.  Now, I can't get it out of my head and so many of them were soooooo slow and totally not my style.  But this one.  It's good.  Go listen to it. 

 Pumpkin Spice Cake
adapted from Taste of Home

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 TBS sugar
3 egg whites
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 TBS molasses
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder

Mix the ingredients together.  Pour into a greased 8 or 9inch pan.  Bake at 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes.

 ** If you are looking for a dairy free option for cool whip or whipped cream, you can find this stuff at Spouts or Whole Foods. . . I don't recommend the lite version. . . it's kind of ick! but the regular stuff has that cool whip texture and taste, with a hint of coconut. 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Delcious Recipes from this Summer {What's for dinner}

Today is the first day of Fall and I am totally going to mess with you and talk about Summer.  Probably bad form.  Oh well.  

Corn is  a summer favorite around here.  Once summer starts rolling around, we tend to stalk Facebook waiting for the announcement the Fresno State Corn is here.  You see, Fresno State's ag department grows the most amazing corn.  It's sweet and delicious and well, people line up to get their hands on this stuff.  We make weekly trips at the beginning of the summer so that I can freeze it for the rest of the year.  We kind of have a problem.  My youngest, who for some reason hasn't quite realized the wonderfulness of this corn, started chanting "No More Corn" every time it's brought up!

So, despite the fact that my motivation for cooking, baking, anything creative was at an all time low, I did try out some amazingly yummy recipes this summer (most of them involving corn) that are must haves.  Really. . . They will work with some of those cans of Niblet sweet corn or even better. . . that frozen grilled corn at Trader Joes!  See.  Corn year round. 

I made this Mexican Street Corn Pasta for the 4th of July and it was gobbled up.  This was just amazingly delicious!  I put the cheese on the side. . . because I wanted to be able to enjoy it (dairy allergies kind of stink!).  The creaminess comes from mayo, so a huge win on that part.  The combination of corn, avocado, and bacon are making me so hungry just typing this.  I should move on.

This next recipe is also amazing and involves corn. . . see. . . it's kind of a thing.  Smitten Kitchen posted a recipe for this Bacon, corn pasta that was a HUGE hit.  Seriously.  Bacon & Corn make the best combination.  Major drooling going on here. 

Please excuse this side bar: I had another recipe that is one of our favorite corn recipes and well.  It has disappeared from cyber space.  I have it written down and I'm so glad.  I have posted it in one of my previous "What's for dinner" posts and it really is wonderful.  A friend and I were so VERY happy when I realized that I had copied it down.  Because like I said.  It's gone.  I'm not sure what happened to the blog Creative Mama, but the website is gone.  It's been gone for months.  So, friends. . . lesson learned.  Blogs are not forever.  They could disappear and leave you just dreaming for your favorite recipe.  Print or copy down those Pinterest recipes that you know you can't live without.  Pinning them for later isn't always a sure thing. Lesson learned.  Moving on.

Now back to our regular scheduled drool fest.

This next recipe I found because I was inspired by Panera's Thai Chicken Salad.  It's my current go-to lunch item because they got rid of my chicken avacado cobb (insert sad face here. . . you know the one with tears).  But, this one.  It's really good and I can't stop thinking about it after I eat it and I can't eat at Panera every day because. . . well. . . that would get really pricey.  So, I found a copycat and it was wonderful!  You should make it.  We ate a lot of salads this summer because it was just too hot to cook.  bleh.  This one was really good.  You should make it. You can find it here. 

Remember back a few paragraphs?  We ate a lot of salads because it was hot.  By dinner time we are all exhausted and who wants to heat up the house.  I braved the grill a lot, but at some point we even stopped using that because like I said.  This summer was hot.  This recipe was one of my favorites because it offered lots of flexibility.  I could eat the salad and if my husband or kids wanted something more filling, they took the fixings and made tacos.  Easy Peazy.  Everyone happy.  Dinner served.  You can find this recipe here.

Okay, that's enough drooling for now.  I'm going to go wrap up and get out stuff for tonight's dinner. Soccer season has officially begun for us so easy dinner nights have begun.  Did you cook up anything delicious this summer? 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Peach - Plum Tart

Today is beautiful.  We are on our second day of cool weather (and by cool. . . I mean not in the 90's or triple digits).  My windows are open wide and last night I actually covered up with my comforter.  I'd like to say fall is coming, but I know the truth.  There is still a possibility for warmer weather for a few more weeks.  It's just how it is.

My husband got down the boxes of fall decorations and I am ready to get rid of summer.  It had it's glory.  Now to give it some rest until next year.  Not to mention the past few weeks have been kind o busy and the house is just in a state of chaos.  It's hard for me to focus.  I need to fix that quick.   Anyways, change is the air and I am excited for the newness as seasons change.  How about  you?

Now, let's rewind to a recipe I made earlier this summer when my plum tree was overflowing with plums.  Seriously.  We've never had so many plums come off this tree and we couldn't pick them quick enough.  We had rain this year, which made a huge difference in how many plums were growing.

Also, summer fruit is the best.  I probably say that about every season because we live in the Valley where everything grows and we can get fresh off the tree.  But, stone fruits.  peaches, plums, apricots, and if your lucky pluots are seriously the best! So, this summer when cooking was one of the last things I wanted to do, I made this tart.  The original recipe was for a pie, but I really wanted to use my new tart pan that I got for Christmas. . . they are just so much fun. 

 Are you hungry yet?  I kind of feel bad because I am posting this in September, but I bought peaches at the store yesterday, so you can still find them.  There's hope.  So, even though we are all (maybe not all, but pretty close) are buying Pumpkin Spice lattes every chance we can get or making pumpkin muffins or scones, there is still time to whip these up.

Also, don't let the idea of making your own pie crust intimidate you.  Get a food processor.  If you have one, dust it off and put that baby to work.  It does all the work for you.  Freeze your butter.  Also, your tarts and pies don't have to look pretty.  I've seen some pretty ones floating around magazines and the internet and wowzwers. . . they are just gorgeous.  Pies can also look beautiful and rustic, so you really don't have to worry.  Especially, when they are so mouth watering delicious like this one!

Almond-Brown Butter Pie Crust
from Bake from Scratch

1 cup unsalted butter
2 1/4  all-purpose flour
3/4 cup super fine almond flour
1 Tbs sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1/4 cup cold water

make your brown butter by melting the cup of butter in a pan until brown and nutty.  Keep your eyes on it because it doesn't take long to go from brown and beautiful to burnt and gross.  The nutty smell and brown specks are a big give away.  Line freezer safe bowl with foil hanging over the edges.  Pour the browned butter into foil lined bowl and stick in freezer.  Freeze for several hours or the day before.

In a food processor mix all dry ingredients together, being sure to get rid of all the chunks (sometimes almond flour and all-purpose flour can be kind of clunky).  Slowly add pieces of the frozen browned butter from earlier.  Pulse until mixture is crumbly.  Keep food processor running and add egg and cold water.  Continue with food processor on until everything is mixed together.

Put some flour on a surface (I use my kitchen table) and turn dough onto the flour.  Knead for a minute until it all comes together and shape it into a disk.  Wrap it in wrap and keep it in the fridge for at least 30 mintues or up to 2 days.

Peach-Plum Filling
adapted from Bake from Scratch

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup corn starch
1 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3 1/2 pounds of a combination of peaches and plums (or any stone fruit, really).
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 large egg
1 tsp water
3 tsp turbinado sugar (aka sugar in the raw)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
Slice your stone fruit into slices and throw away the pits.  Don't worry about peeling them. . . the skin cooks nicely and adds a pretty color to your dish.
Toss stone fruit with sugars, corn starch zest and salt.  Then mix in extracts.
Roll out down and place in tart pan.  Trim it and set the rest of the dough to the side.  Pour in mixture and spread evenly in tart pan.  Depending on the size of your pan, you might have extra peach mixture.
Roll out some more dough and cut into strips to go across the peach & plum mixture.  Pinch dough into crust.
In a small bowl, beat the egg and water together.  Brush the crust with egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.

Bake for 55ish minutes.  Crust should be golden brown and the filling should be boiling.  I recommend sticking the tart pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper to bake. . . that way if there's any ooozing of the filling, it doesn't get all over your oven.  Because after all this work, you certainly don't want to add clean oven to your list.   You can thank me later.

Now, while you are baking this and you notice you have pie crust and some filling left over, you can make some little mini pies in those pyrex ramakins of if you have fancy colored ones.  Follow the same steps and throw those in the oven on your baking sheet.  They won't need as much time, because they are smaller.  Just don't forget about them.

If you don't happen to have any filling left then feel free to cut up the crust and bake it later, sprinkling with cinnamon and sugar.  Best things ever!

Want to save this recipe for later?  Add to your Pinterest Board by clicking the picture! 

Friday, September 15, 2017

My mom retired and we threw a party

 My mom retired in June from teaching.  She has been teaching since before I was born.  Not only has she been an amazing teacher for the past 30 plus years, she has also mentored many teachers and made an impact on so many students.  She deserved a party.  She didn't want one, but my dad and I knew better and threw her one anyway and it was wonderful.  So many friends and family joined us for dinner, toasts, and a lot of fun!

The picture above is when she first started teaching.  The town was a tiny town in Lyman, Nebraska. I took a picture of it when we were back for a family reunion 8 years ago.  The school is now boarded up and closed, but it still the cutest little brick school!  

My mom's fellow teacher friends have gotten her into the wonderful world of succulents.   So, we went with a rustic/succulent theme and it was perfect.  When we started out, we were just going to do an open house with some appetizers and desserts and have people come by all afternoon, but when some sweet friends of my parent's said they have it at their house (which is also a popular wedding location in town), we jumped at it. 

 The tables look a little sad because it got kind of breezy (read everything was blowing away!).  We went with cream table cloths topped with burlap scraps and succulent boxes/tins.  The favors were smores. . . because who doesn't like S'mores? 
 See.  breeze.  crazy psycho breeze.  

 I put my Cricut to work to make the banner look like chalkboard.  I love the way it looked with the greenery right behind it.  
  We put this table as people walked in, so they could put any cards or gifts, sign the guest book, peek at the scrapbook, and suggest ideas to keep my mom busy since she won't be tending after 20 first graders anymore.  I shopped a lot from my house decor, so it was really easy!

 I somehow managed to not get a picture of the food, but some sweet friends all helped and we had fresh fruit, salad, rolls, pulled pork, and rice pilaf.  Everything looked really good. . . I realized that I never got a chance to sit down and eat.  Ha! 

And, what is a party with out dessert?  We ordered a Costco cake, and another teacher made beautiful cupcakes and I made some treats and my sister in law made the most delicious pound cake (we couldn't keep Weston out of it!).  Everything was so delicious!
And finally, everyone gathered in the shade, and shared stories about my mom.  She is an amazing lady and I can't wait to see what she does with all this extra time on her hands.  I suspect she will be spending lots of time with her grandchildren and making some cool quilts.  She isn't exactly one to sit still! 

This was such a fun party to work on with my dad.  My mom helped a little, because she likes to be involved.  We kept a lot of things secret so she could enjoy the afternoon!  

A big thank you for everyone who came out and celebrated my mom and even helped with all the food and clean up.  They have the best friends!  

Also, if you are local, here is where the venue is if you are looking for a place to throw a party.  This place was great and the owners are wonderful!  You can also find them here.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...