Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Stuffed Baked Pumpkins

First of all let me apologize for crappy call phone pics, in true Ashley fashion I've miss placed my camera battery charger. But I kid you not these pumpkins are AMAZEBALLS!!!! I got the idea from my Mom when she made a similar recipe she discovered last fall. One small baking pumpkin (not the teeny little decorative kind) is enough for two people and would be fine with out any sides. I made roasted root vegetables to go with ours. I peeled and cut parsnips, carrot and sweet potatoes and tossed in some cubed apples. I tossed them in olive oil and salt and pepper and roasted them along with the pumpkin. They were a delicious pairing with the pumpkin but like I said you could easily have this as a one dish meal.

For the pumpkin you will need:
1 small baking pumpkin
1/3 cup of Gouda cheese grated (or any cheese of your choosing, brie would be fabulous also)
1/4 cup chopped pecans
2 apples peeled and cubed
salt and pepper to taste 
1/8 cup brown sugar
half and half

Preheat oven to 400 F. Cut the top off the pumpkin and discard the guts. Combine cheese, apples, pecans, salt, pepper and brown sugar. Fill the pumpkin with the apple mixture then pour in half and half until it comes 3/4 way up the inside of the pumpkin. Roast for approx 30-45 minutes, until apples and pumpkin are cooked through and tender. Allow to cool slightly and dive straight in the pumpkin with a spoon! 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Chai Pumpkin Cupcakes with Nutella Frosting

 Break out the knee boots and cardigans, fall is HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Leaves are falling, pumpkins and apples are everywhere, warm colors are ready to be worn, cool breezes are blowing!!!! I love fall! I can't get enough of oranges, golds and browns right now.

I'm not a huge fan of pumpkin though. I hate pumpkin pie but I love pumpkin bread and muffins. Weird, right? Hot tea is something else I have to have in the fall. In fact as I write there is a cup of Chai steeping in the kitchen with my name on it. Lee loves Chai so the inspiration for the these cupcakes came from him. Until I bought the tea for him this week I'd only had a few sips of Chai here and there; I'm usually a Green tea type of girl. But he LOVES Chai and kept trying to get me to drink it but I always went for a mocha of some sort. Now that I have finally had it,  I knew it was a perfect pairing for pumpkin. And man was I right. I think it is the best spice cake I've had. Like ever. No. Seriously. Best. Spice. Cake. Ever.

 And I'm totally obsessed with the Nutella Cloud Frosting from Caleb's party cupcakes. Suddenly it hit me, combine my new cupcakes with that frosting and these little beauties were born!

Chai Pumpkin Cupcakes

6 tablespoons butter at room temperature

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup self rising flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2  teaspoon baking soda

2/3 cup pumpkin puree

1/3 cup vanilla Greek yogurt

1 Chai blend tea bag

3 tablespoons buttermilk

Yeilds 12 standard size cupcakes.

Preheat oven 350 F. Line a standard muffin tin with liners. Pour milk into a small bowl with the tea bag and for 30 seconds and let steep.
Beat butter, sugar and eggs until fluffy.
Sift together all dry ingredients.
Mix together pumpkin and yogurt. Before you pour in the milk squeeze the tea bag to make sure you get as much Chai flavor as possible. Stir the milk into the pumpkin mixture. Add dry ingredients and wet ingredient and mix until thoroughly combined.  Scoop into muffin pan and bake for 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool before icing.

For the frosting visit Sweetapolita. If you have nut allergies in the family a basic cream cheese frosting would be amazing also.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Super Hero Party

  My little Monkey just turned 3!!! On his birthday, we did our usual birthday traditions. There were sprinkle pancakes with whipped cream for breakfast and dinner with ALL 8, yes 8, grandparents at the restaurant of his choice. This year we wound up at a hibachi steak house. He was totally enthralled with the chef and the fire!

  For his party, we planned a super hero theme party. I started working on it months ago, knowing that I was going to have a new baby when September rolled around. There are tons of cute ideas floating around the interswebs for Super Hero/Avengers themed parties, just look at my Pinterest board. The back drop is a shower curtain from Target. I stole the idea from The Thriftress. I found this link and made them into a banner. We had some of the serving platters but the rest were bought at The Dollar Tree, where I also bought all the candy for the goody bags. We happened upon Avengers and Justice League candy that we gave out in little cello bags tied with black ribbon. I forgot to snap a pic of them, though they were super cute. The plates and napkins were from the clearance section of Walmart and the little buckets holding the forks were Avenger's from the Dollar Spot at Target

 We all wore super hero themed t-shirts even little bitty baby brother. :) 
Caleb chose a Spider-man shirt, I wore Wonder Woman, Lee naturally went for his favorite Green Lantern and Liam had on Captain America.  

 I made the menu by starting with Caleb's favorite super heroes and then made matching menu cards. 
The menu included:

Captain America's Patriotic Cake
There two flavors of cake, Lemon and Strawberry both at the birthday boys request. 

Spider-man's Webbed Cupcakes

I actually followed a recipe from start to finish with this one and it they were AMAZING!

Batman's Jello Bombs

On this one, we followed the recipe and made it in Batman colors. Lee and Caleb made them and it was a great recipe to do with kids. They mixed 2 grape jellos with 1 orange and added some black gel food coloring to get the black and added a bit of the black coloring to the cream gelatin mixture to get gray. The jello tasted like a creamy fruit punch flavor and were very yummy! 

Iron Man's Arc Reactor
These are sooooo addictive! We went through approximately 150 of these! Luckily for me, my Mother-in-Law is clairvoyant and knew I was nuts for thinking that we need like a third of those and made three batches! 

Green Lantern's Veggie Constructs and Power Battery Dip
The veggies are self explanatory and the dips were Hidden Valley Fiesta Ranch Dip and Baba Ganoush, which is an eggplant dip. My Mom made it and I don't have the recipe yet but I'll be making it again soon and there will most likely be a post about it. 

Thor's Mighty Mjolnir (Hammer)
These were cheese cubes with pretzel stick for the handle. One thing we learned was that you want to make these fairly close to time to serve them the pretzel gets very stale from the cheese if they sit out too long.

Wolverine's Shredded Chex Mix
This one is going to become a regular at family get togethers from now on. It is SOOOOOO good!
Aquaman's Atlantis Cooler
Ok, you got me. It's just water, but the hubby thinks that Aquaman gets a bum wrap so I had to add him in there to show off his awesomeness! ;-)

Scarlet Witch's Brew
LOVE LOVE LOVE this stuff! There is not a real recipe because it depends on the sweetness of your watermelon. This time my Brother-in-Law made it with little to no instruction and it was super good. You need Country Time Lemonade Mix, the juice of a water melon and a 1 liter Sprite just keep adding a little of each until you get the correct amount and right flavor.  

Hulk Smash Punch
You'll need:
4 3oz Green Apple Jello (we couldn't find Jello brand and used Jolly Rancher brand gelatin)
1 cup of sugar (trust me it needs it)
12 cups of water
2 46oz cans of Dole Pineapple Juice (or you could juice 2 pineapples if available)

Bring water to a boil and mix in jello and sugar. Chill until time to serve, add in juice, sprite and serve. 

Caleb owns most of the super hero masks and accessories that are on the market so I dumped them into a bucket for kids to play with but it turned out more adults did than the kids. I wish I had time to make a photo booth... Maybe next year. 

Anyone who owned superhero shirts wore them.

Caleb got a bouncy house again this year. Thanks to grandparents who love him and spoil him rotten! He was in it from the time he got there until we left. He probably bounced a total of 5 hours! No exaggeration there! He bounced with anyone who would get in. I'm sure there were plenty of sore knees, legs and backs the next day! I'm not sure he would have eaten anything except Lee drug him out of it and made him a plate! 

  Needless to say, he had a great time and so did everyone else. I had so much help from Lee, my Mom, my Mother-in-law, Brother-in-law, Sister-in-law and my Bob (that's a long story) there's no way I could have pulled it off with out them. Although, other than the bouncy house it was pretty easy and very doable with a small budget!