May Madness

…which obviously turned into June madness and a little July madness since I am just getting around to writing about Ollie’s birthday.

My sister and I are often accused of not having a birthDAY but a birthMONTH. I want to deny it, but it’s true. Why should you only get one day out of the whole year to celebrate your arrival on this earth? I have kept that tradition alive with my son Ollie, and this year it was a doozy. We had a party at his school with Hungry Caterpillar cupcakes; dinner and games at Chuck E. Cheese’s; a big house party with all his preschool friends and friends around the city plus all my friends (which turns out can fill a house, balconies and a large yard); and finally, a four-day vacation to Disneyland, California Adventure and a very silly, fun water park at our Howard Johnson’s (courtesy of Nana & Papa). He is one lucky boy and I am one exhausted Mama. Throw in a preschool graduation and the month was complete.

I am definitely grateful for all the inspiration I found to make cupcakes, cake and theme food. The Internet is a powerful tool, and in the hands of a mom set on making a birthday special: watch out!  I was also able to use natural food dyes this year for most of the cakes and cupcakes, and that made me very happy.

Ollie’s Hungry Caterpillar Cupcakes were a big hit at the school. The kids recognized it right away and in true gender-specific form, the boys shouted that they wanted to eat the “head” and the girls explained that the head was for Ollie since it was his birthday.

"On Ollie's birthday he ate through 15 cupcakes."

“On Ollie’s birthday he ate through 15 cupcakes.”

All Gone

“That night he had a stomachache!”

Next up was a Toy Story party. We had theme food, a big cake, cupcakes and theme games.

Ollie's Story

 

However, the games quickly dissolved into a four-hour water fight with all the kids and most of the dads joining in; ending with two moms in my kitchen pumping out water balloons and “shipping them out” to the kids on the front.

We did manage to get the kids to put down the water shooters with the enticement of cake!  I tried something a bit new with Ollie’s cake this year and I was very pleased with the results.  A big thank you to my mom for cutting out all the stars and clouds by hand.  Having never used sugar sheets before, I had no idea you couldn’t use a cookie cutter on them.  Another midnight decorating adventure with my mother.  As well, a big thank you to Sweet Lavender Bake Shoppe for the design inspiration.

The Cake!

PS – every kid gets to take a big bite out of the cake if they want.  A tradition started on his 3rd birthday when his Elmo cake was devoured by three 3-year-olds having the time of their lives!

We are eternally grateful

Happy Birthday my beautiful baby bug!!

 

You Say You Want a Revolution

Well, you know we all want to change the world. This is the hope of Jamie Oliver, his food “champions” and all of us who want to see a change to healthy, affordable, accessible, enjoyable and yes, easy to make meals.

Now, you all know I love Jamie, but after last week I definitely have a deeper appreciation of how much he and his team are striving to bring healthy food awareness to the world. My friend Jenny and I had a chance to take a cooking lesson during Jamie Oliver’s Big Rig tour in Los Angeles. While I knew that “the man” would not be there showing us proper knife skills, I was very excited to finally attend one of his Food Revolution events. On a Friday afternoon, we headed down the 110 to the 105 to an area we don’t tend to frequent – Compton. Pulling into the parking lot of the King-Drew Medical Center, the Big Rig was hard to miss. It is a huge trailer that is kitted out inside with four cooking stations, two wash stations and a large demo station. The instructors, or Champions as they are called, were all so friendly and enthusiastic that you couldn’t help getting caught up in the excitement.

Our meal was a basic risotto and a side of multi-colored cauliflower with a homemade vinaigrette. After a brief demonstration, we divided up in to small groups to get some hands-on cooking experience. My group consisted of Jenny, a mother, her seven year old son and an elderly gentleman. It seemed that almost everyone there, except Jenny and me, had attended several classes already and were signed up for the next week’s classes as well. It was really inspiring to talk to the mother who was taking these lessons because she and her husband had made a commitment to eat healthier for the sake of their son. We all got a chance to chop, stir, pour the broth and of course, clean up.

The lesson was fairly basic but having had a few risotto disasters in the past (mainly stodgy ones), I was happy to have a good refresher on just how simple and easy it can be. As well, someone in our group couldn’t have dairy so it was easy to pull a bit aside for him before the knob of butter and the generous helping of parmesan was added at the end. So there you go, vegan for Clive and cheese-filled for me!

A big thanks to all those who are volunteering their time to reach out to the community and help educate and improve health.

Viva la Revolución

Get involved in Jamie’s Food Revolution Day!

Or donate to his cause at www.jamieoliverfoodfoundation.org 

Big Love!

 

Click here for Jamie’s Risotto Bianco recipe

 

And the Oscar Pun goes to…

First of all, let me just start by saying that I have been doing food puns at my Oscar parties since the day I hollowed out 4 baguettes, lined them up end to end and filled them with spinach dip for “The Green Mile”. So imagine my distress when my friend, Jenny, sent me a link to the winners of Bon Appétit’s first annual Oscar Food Pun competition! How did I miss this? I suppose the fact that I am about 4 months behind on all my food magazines might be one of the reasons. I am still reading about new twist on classic Thanksgiving menus. Anyway, I just want the record to state that I have been doing this with my sister and friends LONG before BA got in the game. And I would also like to point out that we had all the same ideas that the winners had, plus some!

The Table

So here they are for your viewing pleasure, our official 2014 Oscar food pun menu, in no particular order:

Gravlax-ity

Gravlax-ity – smoked salmon dip on sesame crackers
Full disclosure:  I ran out of time and use Trader Joe’s smoked salmon dip (gasp)
but I have to say it is quite tasty.

American Truffle – originally this was going to be American Brussels Sprouts
but chocolate truffles sounded a lot better than brussels sprouts.

Christian Kale – Vickie’s Spicy Kale Chips.

Dallas Gruyeres Club

Dallas Gruyeres Club starring Manchego McConaughey – Cheese Plate

Phyllomena

Phyllo-mena – Individual Zucchini Tarts with phyllo
This was delicious!  However, I can only take credit for finding the recipe.
Jenny’s execution of the recipe was divine.
Click the above link for the recipe on 24 Carrot Life 

The Croodites

The Croodité – Crudité Platter
We had to have something healthy!

The Lemon Square

The Lemon Square – Lemon Bars
Now this one I did make from scratch and will try to post the recipe soon.

Frozen

 Frozen Cocktails – Robin really outdid herself with this one.
I need a whole separate blog post to discuss all the tasty cocktails she made.
My favorites were the Strawberry Basil-tini and the Cantaloupe Margarita. 

The Wine of Wall Street
The Wine of Wall Street – simple and straightforward.

George Clooney is hot

And an Oscar tradition – George Clooney is hot and so is this… (insert hot item here)
This year it was Samantha’s amazing Jalapeno Cheese dip.
Can we get an Amen!

 

PS – I might not have won Bon Appétit’s Oscar Pun competition, but I did win our Oscar pool (again!).  hee hee hee