Archive for January, 2012

The big day has finally arrived, well big to my son who is turning 11 today that is.  It’s been fun and interesting trying to create a Star Wars theme party for him with specific requests.  Things had to glow, be “spacy” and a bit gross, unusual and mysterious.  To day least this left a bit of a challenge for a friend and I to come up with ideas to try to meet the requirements.  I think we did alright in end.

The drink was the first challenge, he wanted something close to what Luke drank. To find a similar color required blue koolaid mixed with a just enough redi-whip to create a “milky” appearance.  I lucked out and found neon test tube shot glasses which I will be displaying over glow sticks surrounded by little containers of dry ice for “fog”.

Then there was the matter of Jabba’s “snack” container.  To solve this one I purchased some plastic frogs which I enclosed in “swamp” jello.  The frog they find just one of their gifts.

We also have space slugs in their own juices.  Or better known as Lil’ smokies in bbq sauce.  Good and sloppy just the way space slugs should be.

The cake was…well…once his buddy was able to get him settled on a type of cake and a color of frosting we had a base to go on…He wanted simple with Darth Vader to be front and center.  The only candle allowed on the cake was the Vader candle.  To make sure I didn’t overdue it or make it to “Girly” my son monitored the entire process informing me just how much to do.  I admit, I would have done a lot more if given liberty but he’s happy so that’s what matters.   Thankfully he gave me liberty on the cupcakes so I went fancier on those. 

There is also pizza, and salads and a few other complimentary sides.

It was a lot of fun and I hope he has a great day.

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An Appetizing Affair

It’s been a busy weekend and it’s just started.  Not only do I have a little boys birthday to host but today the Center I work at hosted an Winter Wonderland Appetizer Luncheon.  I didn’t even take a picture of the covered counter and table, never seen so many tiny plates and bowls in my life. Even the silverware was petite though I do admit it was cute.

It took longer to make the smaller dishes then what it would doing a big style meal but it was also a lot of fun and a bit challenging. Everything almost required an assembly line style preparation method, I have wonderful kids that helped a great deal with that.  I did manage to take pictures of some of the assortment I pulled together to feed the crowd so here it is for your viewing pleasure.

Lemon Creme Cake – Dessert

Mozzarella/Pico Bagettes

Crab & Crepes Appetizers

Shaved Venison Salami with Horseradish Cheddar

Basil & Sun-Dried Tomato/Chive Filled Ham Roll-ups

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My son’s birthday is this weekend, he turns the big (well to him it’s big) 11 and I’m up to my elbows in chocolate.  Peanut Butter Cups, Coconut Creams and Butter Creams dipped in Dark Chocolate are currently on the plate. This chocolate and goodies rush will last all the way up until Valentine’s Day as per every year and I’m certain I will survive the boys birthday before being thrown into trying to create another fantasy filled day for the little girl in March.  Thankfully there is one thing constant in both their wish lists, they both desire their “special” to be there with them on these special milestones in their lives. The rest of the plans seem to shift like desert sands at times.

The boy has chosen a Star Wars theme and has some pretty big requests he would like filled…glowing drinks, “space” foods and nothing that looks “girly” though I’m not so certain what his idea of “girly” is.  Thankfully we both have a best buddy to help him work through his visions and think outside the box to bring a child’s imagination to life and to hold my “girlish” tendencies at bay.  I swear, I really want to just add a pink flower somewhere in the mix.

So…glowing drinks in neon test tubes, frogs suspended in green jello, (smoke sausage) space slugs stewing in their own (bbq sauce) juices, and MYO Republic or Empire pizza are on the menu.  Now I just hope the Sith is ready for all the questions 10 and 11 years old’s and a few 4 year old’s can think up.

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Cups (or hand-dipped).

Peanut Butter Fondant Filling

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

2/3 cup cream

1 tbsp light corn syrup

1/4 tsp salt

1/3 cup mini marshmellows

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup peanut butter

12 oz chocolate candy coating

1.) Place sugar, cream, syrup and salt in medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Stir until sugar dissolves and cook until candy thermometer reads 238 degrees (114 c).  Remove from heat.

2.) Add mini marshmallows but do not stir. Pour onto greased baking sheet and let cool until it feels just warm to touch. (10-20 minutes).

3.) Add vanilla and stir all together with wooden spoon, this process is known as “creaming”.  I suggest using a figure 8 pattern in this process.  Continue creaming as the fondant moves from shiny and translucent to shiny and opaque and begins to thicken.  Once it has lost shine and has a fudge like texture it is ready.  This can take up to 20 minutes of stirring…great for working arm muscles.

4.) Once the fondant is stiff and thick add the peanut butter and work until completely incorporated into the fondant.  Use immediately or store in cling wrap at room temperature for later use at this point.

5.) If using hand dipped method, now is the time to roll into balls and place in freezer to firm up.  you want balls about the size of a large marble for hand dipping.  If you are doing molded chocolates break off smaller pieces suitable to fit in the center of your molds.

6.) For molded chocolates, melt your chocolate and fill your mold cavity 2/3 full of melted chocolates, add your cream center and spread more chocolate over top of mold to seal cream inside.  Tap mold gently to evenly distribute the chocolate.  Place in refrigerator to harden.

7.) For hand dipped, melt chocolate and using either a fork or your fingers dip and roll the fondant ball in chocolate.  Remove and place on piece of wax or parchment paper to harden.  If desired you can sprinkle tops with crushed peanuts prior to setting the chocolate.

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Farm Fresh Eggs.

I love the early morning hours before the sun has fully rose in the sky. The sound of the night crickets and frogs preparing for their day slumbers and the beginning chirps of the first morning birds greeting the sunrise.   What isn’t so beautiful sounding is Clyde’s pitiful attempts at crowing, yet I would miss the gurgled, strangled, struggling sound the little guy makes as he greets me at the chicken coop gate every morning.  He looks so proud as he jumps up on his cinder block, shoves out his chest and raises his head high to produce…well what can only be summed up as a long “gaaaaaaakkkkk”

The ladies greet me as well waiting anxiously by the food bin for me to dish out their daily rations. Ester, one of the Rhode Island Reds is particularly fond of letting me know she needs her food, she has even perfected a dance atop the food bin lid to produce the most sound possible from the metal object.

Then there are the eggs to be gathered,  this can be a bit of fun with Clyde around.  The girls like to “hide” their eggs.  They can be behind the food bin, under overturned food dishes or in nesting boxes. Sometimes they can be found against the walls or even buried under a pile of shavings.  While I am on my hunt Clyde is stewing.  He seems to find my egg gathering reason for him to get offended at the interruption of his morning petting and cuddling routine. Did I mention Clyde is a odd rooster? His whole purpose in life seems to be how much cuddling and snuggling he can wrangle.

As far as egg count goes this is a normal morning haul of eggs around here and I will get usually another three or four before I lock them up for the night.  Some claim there is no difference in the taste of home laid eggs verses commercial eggs bought in stores,  I am not so certain about this.  Perhaps it is just the mental knowledge of knowing what my chickens are fed, where they come from and having a social bond to each of the providers that make them just seem…well…better. Not one egg goes to waste…well unless Clyde manages to knock one out of my hand in his tantrums.  We eat them for breakfast, make them part of breads or muffins, or turn them into homemade noodles.

Now that the younger “heavy” breed chickens are beginning to lay as well, I will soon be putting some eggs in incubator in hopes of some spring chickens to be hatched.  Some will probably find fault for my reasoning in this, but I am a believer in offering the animal the best possible life and providing the best possible food for my family.  Such is the circle of life.

Well enough writing about eggs, time to go boil these up and make some fresh deviled eggs for breakfast.


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