Monday, September 21, 2009

Indiana Jones Birthday Party

Phillip wanted a 'Snake' and 'Indiana Jones' party. Phillip is known for changing his mind. I had everything figured out and this morning he said he wanted a 'Transformers' party. Luckily he conceded with having a 'Snake, Indiana Jones, and Transformers' party. ha!

I had too many 'good' ideas. ha! I thought it would be nice to have some middle eastern food to eat. I had hummus from Costco and made tabbouleh. I wanted to keep things simple, but I ended up making pita bread from scratch because I needed a lot and they only had 5 pita bread at the store for $4 and they don't taste that good. I used this recipe from my sister, Becca's blog. (I didn't do whole wheat ... I need to get my grinder working :-) I also had falafel, cucumber yogurt sauce, grapes, oranges, and my mom brought a HUGE veggie tray :-).

I think the favorite game was the digging in the sand. We purchased sand especially for the party. I filled the sand box with fake gold coins and snakes. The rule was that if they got 10 coins or dug up a snake their turn was over. After everyone had a turn they all went at it and were busy digging for about 20 minutes.

We had a pinata and everyone got to swing on a jungle vine (Frisbee swing).

Anywho, I think the cake was one of the highlights. I got the idea from this site. Pete's sister made a cake with the barbie skirt pan. I made two chocolate layers to go underneath. I carved the cake to look like a mountain. The inside of the dome cake had a plastic cup. I added the figurines and the logo from the figurine package. When it was time to serve, I broke up the dry ice and put the piece of cake on top. I added luke-warm water to make the smoke. I think Phillip's expression is priceless.

It was a great party! Thanks to everyone who came!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Freezer Meals: Meatballs

I must be on a blogging kick lately.

Anywho, I have been having very erratic cooking "mood swings." I will go all out and make a great meal one day, then the next few days it will be either cereal, or toast. Sooo, I've been trying to figure out how to have better options when I don't feel like cooking. This is a great "pull out of the freezer meal." My only problem now is that we may have meatballs for dinner every other day :-) (p.s. don't look at my dirty oven :-)

This is my latest and it tastes really good. Oven-baked meatballs. I used this recipe (alton brown) as the base.

Here is how I modified it:
  • Instead of the 3 different meats, I did one half ground beef and one half pork (ground pork or mild Italian sausage).
  • I doubled the recipe so that I could have more for freezer storage.
  • You can form the balls by gently grabbing some with a cookie scooper. I ended up just doing it with my hands.
  • In this recipe you bake the meatballs in a mini muffin pan so that you can still get a nice crust on the meatball, without having to saute them.
  • The meatball shape turns out better if you can let them sit on a plate or tray in the fridge for a few hours. I tried some that were freshly rolled, and they ended up looking like meatball mini-muffins. I guess they still will be good once you cover them in sauce.
Once baked, let them cool then keep them in a zip lock bag in the freezer.

To unthaw, let them simmer in some marinara sauce. (You could also microwave them if you are in a hurry.

They may cost a little more than Costco meatballs, but they taste WAY better.

Anywho, I must be in the nesting phase of pregnancy. Right now Pete and I are painting all of the doors in the house. :-)

Monday, September 07, 2009

Canned Peaches ... I did it!

So, I was inspired by my sister Emily's blog post last year when she canned peaches (notice how many jars she made!!) I stopped by a stand on the side of the street and the lady wanted $20 for a bushel. I figured I'd just get the fancy canned peaches from Costco instead. Later in the week I noticed my one neighbor had a pair of peach trees which were full of ripe peaches. I traded 18 eggs for a bucket of peaches. I picked the peaches at 2:00 PM and I have been working non-stop on cleaning, pealing, cutting, and processing the peaches. Here is the result of my LABOR day. 10 quarts of peaches.

Sooo... I couldn't get a hold of my canner experts while I was doing this, so these are some of my questions

When you process cans do you process them with the lid only, or lid and screwtop (not tightened all the way?)

How do you transfer the pot AND jars from the stove? It was so heavy! (Pete had to help me because I knew that I would end up a burn victim if left to my own devices)

How can you get canning done without having aching feet and back? (I guess I am 8 months pregnant). I wish I could have filled more cans, but I was physically spent by the time I was done with my two batches.

Do you do a hot or cold process for peaches? I did both, but I think the peaches that I did the hot process look kind of mushy.

Anywho, I may pick some more peaches and make some jam later in the week... Maybe.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Most Improved Wall



When we bought our house, we knew that we would eventually renovate the basement. We would always say, "yeah, this is our dated basement." Most people would say it was a great space, 'retro' etc.

Now that we renovated, almost everyone has said, "THAT was the UGLIEST fireplace" or "That was the most atrocious wall!" My favorite comment was from Pete's mom who said she was so glad that we got rid of the "Dinosaur Toe Nail" tiles that were under the cast iron stove.

So after a lot of hard work and adding a new glass tile surround, I think we have our MOST IMPROVED Wall! :-)

We are making headway on our projects before the baby comes :-)