Thursday, October 29, 2009

Day of Birthdays Part 2

We ended up having Ben's party on Nick's birthday so we just had to continue the festivities. After we wrapped up at The Hands on Museum we headed back to our house. My family and Nick's met us there for some Capri Bakery pepperoni rolls and more cake.

Caleb sat on the couch with Henry for awhile watching football

Then Scott and Charley joined in

I just had to include this picture....

Nick's Heath Bar cake....if enough people ask, I'll blog the recipe next ;)

Opening presents!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Day of Birthdays Part 1

(it took me awhile but here it is, Alyce)
Ben opted for The Hands On Museum as the party location. He made a great choice. We have a membership so we were able to get a discount on the party. They did just about everything. We were responsible for food and beverages. EVERYTHING else was supplied by the museum....right down to the goodie bags. Check out the party.........

12:30pm - Nick and I arrived to "setup". Really this involved dropping off our pop and cake. I then went to the lobby to greet our guests while Nick hung back in the room to greet the kids when they got to the room. Our party helper, Jennie had set up some crayons and paper for the kids to color while they waited.

1:00pm - Official party start time! We ate some pizza and Jennie led the kids in a project of Ben's choosing. His choices were make your own volcano and erupt it, make your own slime or build rockets and launch them. His choice......

The volcano, of course!

1:30pm - We began our guided tour of the museum. We visited 6 different rooms and had 10 minutes in each room. This was, by far the best part of the party! The adults were able to chat and the kids ran wild, perhaps learning a little something along the way!

2:30pm - We got back to the room and sang Happy Birthday! While I cut the cake, Nick supervised Ben opening his gifts. Another perk - Jennie wrote down who gave what gift for me! It was awesome!

3:15ish - The kids ate their cake and called it a day. Jennie helped load a cart and took it to our car for us. We loaded up the presents and headed home to continue our birthday party celebrations.......STAY TUNED

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ben's 7th Birthday Cake

I've done a Lego, Indiana Jones and now I attempted a robot. He decided to have his party at The Hands on Museum and it couldn't have turned out better. I would highly recommend them! Anyway, onto the's a Betty Crocker recipe.

1 box of cake mix - make according to package directions and bake in a 13x9 pan
container of frosting
Black food color
Blue food color
2 colorful licorice twists (7 inch)
2 large black gumdrops - I used DOTS, couldn't find gumdrops
2 soft fruit ring candies
2 blue m&ms

3 pull-apart red (cherry) licorice twists
20 m&ms - any color
1 roll Fruit by the Foot® (any variety from 4.5-oz box)
6 thin chocolate wafer cookies - I used chocolate covered graham crackers

Tint frosting with black and blue food colors to make desired gray color. Using serrated knife, cut rounded top off cake to level surface; place cake cut side down. Cut cake as shown. On tray, arrange cake pieces as shown in template, attaching to tray with small amount of frosting. To “crumb-coat” cake, spread thin layer of frosting over top and sides to seal in crumbs. Refrigerate or freeze cake 30 to 60 minutes.

Frost entire cake with remaining frosting. Cut 1 colorful licorice twist into 2 (1-inch) pieces. Carefully insert licorice pieces between head and body.

Cut remaining colorful licorice twist in half. Using scissors, make several cuts in 1 end of each licorice piece to form antennae. Insert licorice pieces, antennae ends up, in top of head. Insert gumdrops into sides of head for ears. Arrange fruit rings on head for eyes; use 2 blue m&ms for pupils. Separate 1 pull-apart red licorice twist into single strands. Trim 1 strand to 3 inches; place on head for mouth. Use remaining strands to decorate base of robot as desired, trimming to fit.

Tie a knot in each remaining pull-apart red licorice twist. Insert knotted licorice twists in each side of body for arms. To decorate robot body, arrange 20 m&ms in desired pattern on body. Use fruit snack to form border around candy design, trimming to fit. For wheels, insert chocolate wafer cookies in base of cake.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Harvest Moon Macaroni

I was craving some serious comfort food and bored at work. The the internet for new recipes. I found this one on Food Network, courtesy of Rachael Ray. The critics (Nick and Ben) gave 2 thumbs up! I couldn't find frozen butternut squash so I bought a fresh one and baked it before using. I chopped it but I would suggest mashing it for a smoother texture.

1 lb macaroni (I used penne)
2 TBSP olive oil
1 onion - finely chopped
3 garlic cloves - finely chopped
2 TBSP fresh thyme - finely chopped (I used dried and just used less)
3 TBSP butter
3 TBSP flour
1 c. chicken stock
1 1/2 c. whole milk (I used low fat buttermilk to keep the creaminess but lessen the fat content)
salt and pepper
10 oz box frozen butternut squash - defrosted
hot sauce
1 c. grated Parmesan
1 c. extra sharp yellow chedder (I bought a block and grated it myself)
1 tsp sweet paprika

Bring water to a boil. Season with salt and cook macaroni to al dente

Preheat broiler and place rack in middle of the oven

Heat the oil in a sauce pot over medium heat, saute onions and garlic until soft - 6-7 min and stir in the thyme

Scoot onions off to side of pan and melt butter, whisk flour into butter and combind whisk 1 minute then whisk in stock and milk, season sauce with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Cook until thickened, about 3-4 minutes

Stir in butternut squash and a few dashes of hot sauce. Reduce heat. When sauce comes to a bubble, stir in parmesan. Combine the sauce and macaroni, transfer to a casserole dish and top with shredded yellow chedder, parsley and paprika. Brown the macaroni under broiler - 4-5 minutes until brown and bubbly.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Fairy Doors

We (I) are (am) constantly trying to come up with creative things to do with Ben that don't cost a ton of money. I somehow stumbled across Fairy Doors and decided it was an interesting and better yet FREE activity for us on a Thursday night. Please checkout the website for more details but the basic idea is these doors started popping up all over Ann Arbor a few years back. You would never notice them but once you know where they are, they are the cutest little things! I made a map of downtown and used it as an opportunity to teach Ben so basic map reading skills and he thought the whole night was "awesome"

This is a fairy ticket window right below the actual ticket window at The Ark There are actual tickets inside and if you look around the corner, you can see the entrance to the ticket box.

Move farther down the street and you find a Goblin Door. There's bird droppings and garbage all over it. Ben decided this was his favorite door.

Head inside Sweetwaters Cafe and you will find a fairy door with their own miniture coffee house. Adorable!

This door was outside Peaceable Kingdom. If you go inside you can see a scene from the fairy's own store but they were closed so we'll have to do it another time.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Ben's First Football Game

We took Ben to his first UofM football game on September 26th. He loved it! And we won!

Enjoying some nachos during halftime
Caleb and his friends showing Ben how to pose

At the game

Go Blue!

(We just aren't going to talk about what happened last weekend)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Hippie Hash Browns

If you have ever been to Fleetwood Diner in Ann Arbor you have probably tried their Hippie Hash Browns. In honor of Ben's first UofM football game, we decided to try our hand at making this delicious dish! Please keep in mind, measurements are totally approximate and cooking instructions are completely random. They turned out yummy but can't compare to Fleetwood's version. We will however, be trying again.

I started by shredding 6ish potatoes in my new food processor (thank you Grandma!). I heated some oil, added chopped onion and garlic. Sauteed for awhile. Once the potatoes were shredded, I added them to the pan and started frying. I found that the potatoes take a looooong time to cook if you do them all at once. I would recommend breaking it into portion sizes and cooking one at a time. Leave them one on side until cooked to your liking. Flip and cook again.

Remember the peppers from the Fall Decor post? Well here they are, all diced up. My bowl looks a little empty, but it's a small price to pay for good food. We used about 4ish peppers. Add oil to a separate pan and saute the peppers until they are tender. Add broccoli as well and really any other veggie you prefer.

Once everything is done cooking, serve the potatoes layered with the veggies and some feta cheese. I am telling you, the feta makes the dish! We ate them with some eggs and toast.