Monday, September 26, 2016

Recipe Share: Ham and Potato Soup.

My twin sis told me about this recipe. A friend of hers had made it for her while she was sick and pregnant, and she said it made her whole week! I am not sick or pregnant, but this soup tastes good no matter what you are! It's satisfying and versatile and so great this time of year. You can add a number of things if you want to like cheddar cheese, turkey, bacon, or eat it without meat. It was really easy and fast to throw together as well. Winner, winner, ham and potato dinner!


Ingredients:

3 1/2 Cups peeled and diced potatoes (I like Yukon Gold potatoes best. I don't peel mine, because the skin is so thin it isn't bothersome to eat at all.)
1/3 Cup diced celery
1/3 Cup finely chopped onion
3/4 Cup cooked ham, diced (I used turkey kielbasa in my soup and added it at the end to warm. But I will try it with ham next time. I think I like turkey kielbasa cold better than warm.)
3 1/4 Cups water
2 Tbsp. chicken bouillon granules
1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste
1 tsp. ground white or black pepper, or to taste
5 Tbsp. butter
5 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 Cups milk (I used whole)
chopped green onions for garnish (optional)
shredded cheddar cheese for garnish (optional)

Directions:
Combine the potatoes, celery, onion, ham and water in a stockpot. Bring to a boil, then cook over medium heat until potatoes are tender, about 10-15 minutes. Stir in the chicken bouillon, salt, and pepper. In a separate pan, melt butter over medium low heat. Whisk in flour, and cook, stirring constantly until thick, about 1 minute. Slowly stir in milk so lumps don't form. Continue stirring over medium low heat until thick, about 4-5 minutes. (I warm my milk first in the microwave for a minute or two before pouring it into my butter/flour. This makes it thicken much quicker.) Stir the milk mixture into the stockpot with the water, ham, potatoes, and veggies, and cook soup until heated through. Garnish with chopped green onions, shredded cheddar cheese, etc. Serve immediately.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Recipe Share: Steak Kabobs

I've been craving steak folks. It's truly one of my favorite things to eat. This recipe from Joseph "Rev Run" Simmons, was one that definitely hit the spot. It cooked up fast, and the steak was tender and flavorful. The veggies and pineapple tasted great with it, too. (Next time I'll use fresh pineapple and grill that as well. This time I used canned pineapple and was afraid it would fall apart on the grill. It was still delicious though.)

Sauce:
1/4 cup your favorite BBQ sauce
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon onion powder
Fresh cracked black pepper

Kabobs:
2 pounds beef tenderloin, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes (I used top sirloin)
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/2 pineapple, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
1/2 red onion, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 green bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 orange or yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
           

Directions:

For the sauce: In a bowl, combine the BBQ sauce, lime juice, Worcestershire, garlic powder, onion powder and some pepper. Mix well, and reserve.
For the kebabs: Prepare a grill for high-heat direct grilling. If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for 30 minutes.Sprinkle the beef with salt and pepper. Thread the beef, pineapple, red onion and bell peppers onto the skewers, alternating between ingredients. Set the kabobs on a baking sheet, drizzle with the canola oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. (I've learned over the years that I prefer to thread all the same ingredients on my skewers. For example, I thread all my steak together on the same skewers, I thread all my peppers together, and all my onions together, etc. That way, if each ingredient takes different amounts of time to cook, I'm not trying to pull off my veggies from my skewers while leaving the steak on them. And I also don't like my raw meat touching my veggies, but that's a personal issue of mine. It's all up to you. Some must have better luck getting same grill times on their various foods than I do. And it really does look pretty to serve up skewers of colorful foods together. I just pull mine off the skewers to serve.)
Place the kabobs on the grill and brush with sauce. Cook for about 10 minutes, rotating the skewers halfway through, and brushing them with sauce. Remove from the grill and serve. (I served mine over steamed rice.)

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Recipe Share: Roasted Pork with Peach BBQ Sauce and Smashed Potatoes

Ladies and Gents, this recipe is seriously amazing. With each bite, I kept singing its praises... saying, "Oh my goodness.. wow, this is... wow, mmm..." I guarantee you, too will love it. It's from my girl Kelsey Nixon. (She's not technically my girl, or my girl friend even, but I like to think she and I would be great friends if we ever met. I love her cooking style, and her personality is adorable. And, she is always stylin'.) What made this recipe taste even better was that I made it with my twin sis, Jaime. She and I love to cook together, and we had a great time making this meal. 
So, here's the printable recipe.

Pork and Peach BBQ Sauce:
4 cups peaches, peeled and sliced (we used frozen peaches)
1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup ketchup
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce

2 Tbsp. garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. ginger, minced
2 1/2 pound boneless pork loin roast
kosher salt and cracked black pepper
1/4 cup low sodium chicken stock

Smashed Potatoes
1 1/2 lbs. small Yukon gold potatoes (I'm a total Yukon gold potato freak/fan. I have a really hard time using any other kind of potato these days. The Yukon gold is just so creamy and delicious. I feel like it has such a delightful flavor compared to any other potato. Try them if you haven't yet! You will see what I mean.)
kosher salt
1/2 cup half-and-half
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup cream cheese, softened
freshly cracked black pepper

Directions:
For the pork and peach bbq sauce: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Combine the peaches, brown sugar, ketchup, vinegar, soy sauce, garlic and ginger in a food processor or blender.

Pat the pork dry with paper towels and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Reserve half (about 2 cups) of the peach BBQ sauce and set aside. Transfer the pork, fat-side up, to a rack over a heavy-bottomed roasting pan and brush the rest of the sauce all over the pork. Add the stock to the bottom of the roasting pan.

Roast the pork until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part reads 140 degrees F, about 1 hour.

For the smashed potatoes: Meanwhile, place the potatoes in large pot and cover with salted cold water. The potatoes will soak up that salt like pasta and it will make a big difference in flavor. Cover and bring to a boil and cook until fork-tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Drain the potatoes, and return them to the same pot, allowing them to dry. Heat the half-and-half and butter in a small sauce pot over low heat. Add the mixture to the potatoes along with the cream cheese and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Smash the potatoes with a potato masher and set aside, keeping warm until ready to serve.

For serving the pork: Transfer the pork to a baking sheet to rest for 10 minutes, and then thinly slice half of the loin. Store and reserve the other half for leftovers.

Remove the rack from the roasting pan and place on the stove over medium-high heat. Whisk in the reserved BBQ sauce and scrape the bottom of the pan to incorporate the browned sauce. Cook until slightly reduced and thickened, about 10 minutes.

Serve the sliced pork with the reduced peach BBQ sauce over the smashed potatoes. 

Delicious, I tell you!! 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Recipe Share: Egg and Veggie Scramble with Toast

This is one of my favorite breakfasts. It's easy, healthy, and delicious. It is also very satisfying to know that you're eating veggies in your breakfast!!  And you'll find that you feel full for quite awhile after eating this!
Ingredients:
1/3 - 1/2 C. Chopped veggies (any kind you like - I used mushrooms, red, yellow, and orange peppers, and onions)
2 eggs
2 Tbsp. shredded cheese (any kind you like - I used Monterey Jack)
1 tsp. olive oil
fresh flat leaf parsley or cilantro, chopped for garnish
whole grain bread (I like to use Sara Lee's 45 Calories and Delightful bread)

Directions:
Heat your oil in your saute pan over medium heat. Saute all your vegetables until tender, 3-4 minutes. Mix your eggs together in a bowl with a fork or whisk. Add in your eggs and cheese to the pan with your veggies. Stir until firm, but not brown. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with parsley or cilantro. Toast your bread, and enjoy together!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Recipe Share: Spicy Chicken, Eggplant, and Caramelized Onion Quesadillas

These Bobby Flay quesadillas are so delicious. The chicken is full of flavor from being marinated, and the veggies add so much flavor, too. Add some yummy guacamole and salsa, and you'll be one happy lady or man.
(I made mine with grilled mushrooms instead of eggplant, since I love mushrooms and had them on hand.)
 What the filling looks like if you make them open faced... so delicious!
Ingredients

Marinade:

1/4 cup olive oil
2 jalapenos, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 (8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breast
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Caramelized Onions:

2 large red onion, finely sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Grilled Eggplant:
1 Japanese eggplant, sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick slices
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Package of sliced portabella mushrooms or white mushrooms (If you decide to use mushrooms in addition to or instead of eggplant)


Quesadilla:

9 (8-inch) flour tortillas
3/4 cup grated monterey jack
3/4 cup grated white cheddar 
Ancho chile powder
Mixed Tomato Salsa, recipe follows

Directions:

In a blender, combine the marinade ingredients and blend until smooth. Place the chicken in a medium bowl, pour the marinade over it, cover, and refrigerate for 4 hours.


Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until soft and caramelized, about 20 to 25 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and cilantro and cook for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.


Preheat grill pan. Brush eggplant with oil on both sides and season with salt and pepper to taste. Grill for 2 minutes on each side. Remove and coarsely chop.

Or if you choose to do mushrooms like I did, simply saute them on medium heat in a pan with a little olive oil and butter. Don't crowd them, space them apart in the pan. Turn them over when browned on one side, and finish off other side. Lay them out on a paper towel when done, sprinkle with salt.


Preheat grill pan over high heat. Remove chicken from marinade and season with salt and pepper to taste. Grill for 4 to 5 minutes on each side until cooked through. Let rest for 5 minutes and slice thinly on the bias. Set aside.


Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place 6 tortillas on a large un-greased baking sheet. Divide the cheese, chicken, onions, and eggplant among the 6 tortillas and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Top each quesadilla with another tortilla. Brush the tops with olive oil and sprinkle with ancho chile powder.

Bake for 8 to 12 minutes, or until the quesadillas are slightly crisp and the cheese has melted. Cut into quarters and garnish with the Mixed Tomato Salsa.

You can also make these on the stove top in a sautee pan. Just compile your quesadilla in the pan and cook on medium high heat for a few minutes and then carefully flip over and cook on the other side until cheese is melted and tortillas are crisp.

Mixed Tomato Salsa:

8 cherry tomatoes, quartered
8 yellow cherry tomatoes, quartered
8 yellow pear tomatoes, halved
8 red pear tomatoes, halved
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Yield: 8 servings

My Guacamole:
3-4 ripe avocadoes, mashed
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1-2 tsp fresh lime juice
garlic salt to taste
2-3 Tbsp of salsa or pico de gallo
(Taste as you mix, and alter amounts as needed)

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Recipe Share: Basil Burger with Grilled Corn on the Cob

For those of you that have seen Next Food Network Star, this recipe comes from a winner on that show, Melissa D'Arabian. I really like her, and I really loved this recipe. The basil sauce and using an English Muffin for the bun made this burger so unique and yummy. It's a perfect summer time meal. 
Here's the printable recipe.

Ingredients:
1 1/4 lbs. ground beef (80% lean)
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
4 English muffins, halved horizontally and toasted
1 tomato, sliced and lightly salted
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan

Basil Sauce:
1 green onion, chopped
3 Tbsp. roughly chopped basil
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 Tbsp. sour cream
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Quarter the beef into even portions. Form into burgers, indenting the middle slightly with your thumb. Season with salt and pepper, and brush lightly with vegetable oil. Cook on a hot grill until charred on the outside and pink on the inside, about 4 minutes per side. Two minutes before removing the burgers, top the burgers with the mozzarella cheese.

Place the toasted muffins on a serving platter. Place the tomato slices on the bottom, and top each with cooked patties. Spread a tablespoon or two of the basil sauce on each bun top and sprinkle with a little Parmesan cheese. Serve extra basil sauce on the side for dipping.

Perfect Basil Sauce:
Blend the green onion, basil, garlic, mayonnaise, sour cream, and Worcestershire sauce in a blender until creamy and pale green. Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper, if needed.

How I make my grilled corn:
Husk the corn, and place directly onto grill grates that are heated on medium. Turn them every 2 minutes for a total of 10-12 minutes. When the corn gets some color from the grill and the kernels look plump, they are done. Butter, salt and pepper to taste. 

Enjoy!!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Recipe Share: Shredded Buffalo Chicken Sandwich with Blue Cheese Aioli

This sandwich recipe from Kelsey Nixon has the perfect balance of flavors and textures. I love it so much, the first time I made it for dinner I ended up eating it for lunch and dinner the next day, too. I couldn't get enough!!  It's not too spicy, but has enough kick to satisfy. I also love that you make this meat in your crockpot. It's so easy to just throw everything in, and then assemble your sandwiches at dinnertime.
Ingredients:
1/4 C. hot sauce
1/4 C. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp. molasses
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 yellow onion, chopped
14 oz. can tomato sauce
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and freshly ground pepper
6 hamburger buns, split and toasted (I like to eat it on an Orowheat sandwich thin bun)
Celery leaves, for serving
Blue Cheese Aioli, for serving, recipe follows

Blue Cheese Aioli:
1/2 C. crumbled blue cheese
1/3 C. mayonnaise
1 tsp. fresh tyme leaves
1 clove garlic, minced
(I usually add a few teaspoons of milk just to loosen up the aioli a bit, but either way it's great.)
Combine all ingredients and mix well. (I also add pepper to mine.)

Directions:
Add the hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, molasses, garlic, onions, and tomato sauce to a slow cooker and stir to mix ingredients together.

Sprinkle the chicken with salt and freshly ground pepper liberally and add chicken to the slow cooker, coating evenly with the sauce. Cover and cook on low until chicken is tender, 4-6 hours.

Transfer chicken to a large bowl and shred, using 2 forks. Return the shredded chicken to the slow cooker and toss to coat with the sauce.

Toast your buns, and compile your sandwiches by smearing each side of the buns with blue cheese aioli and then topping one half with celery leaves. Then add the chicken and enjoy!

Try these soon. You will love them and may eat them over and over like I did.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Gallery walls in our living room.

My family moved back to AZ a year ago. One thing I love about moving (and probably the only thing I love) is getting to decorate a new space. In our living room we have a long blank wall, and above our couch, we have another blank wall. I wanted to do a floor to ceiling gallery wall on one and a simple gallery above the couch. I went to Hobby Lobby and found a few great items.
 How great is this?? I fell in love with it.
 Letters for each of our kids' first names and a "W" for our last name. (Sidenote: Our kids names are Cohen, Ren, and Avery. I always thought I'd have another girl and wanted to name her Paige. But then my husband pointed out that we'd have C,R,A,P then!) Haha.
I got a new rug, lamps, and a few new pillows for our front room from Target.
I loved this lamp's base and color. And how perfect is this wooden stilt bird?? I have always loved birds ever since I took a bird watching class in college, and well, this guy had to come home with me. And the framed art is a drawing of the Mesa, Arizona temple, where my husband and I were married. I loved its simplicity, and it just felt right there.
And here's the gallery I came up with for above our couch.
The pillows on the right are some of my all time faves I bought from West Elm last year. I mean, a seagull wearing red high tops and sunglasses is just my jam. I based the whole design and feel of the room on this one pillow. It's like an understated beachy-cool vibe.
The rug color is similar to the high tops. And the yellow accents are like his legs.
(Please excuse the grass on my rug.. my boys had just pummeled through there like boys do. And, yes, I need to vacuum now.)
 I took the pics of the seagull and palm trees myself and framed them with frames I got at Walmart. The @ sign is one I bought at Target in their craft section. I spray painted it white and hung it up with those great velcro command strips.
 Isn't it soothing? I love lying on that couch and just staring up at it. (Until my kids realize where I am, and they dog pile me or scream for a gogurt. It really is peaceful while it lasts though.)
 On the wall above the lamp, I had my twin sis, Jaime, design a print for me that I framed.
It has one of my favorite scripture quotes on it. Every time I read it, I smile.
On the opposite side of the window, I have hung our square seashell mirror that I bought at Crate and Barrel years ago. I got it when Jason and I were first married.

And on the long entry wall, here's what I've come up with so far. It's a work in progress. I really would like to add to it 'til it's floor to ceiling, but I am at a stand still for now.
 The frames and accessories are from all different places: Target, Walmart, Ikea, Hobby Lobby.. and some of the pictures were professionally taken, while others I took myself. I love this particular spot I have my parents' wedding photo in. They looked so classy and happy. I love it.
 Don't mind our Elf on the Shelf. He just hung out in our "W" for the day.
A dear friend of mine made that awesome "Wallace" wood board. It's my newest addition to the wall, and I adore it.
Now that our kids will be going back to school soon, I'm starting to daydream about finishing my wall gallery... and maybe even doing something with my wall above my dining room table. We'll see..

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Recipe Share: Creamy Farfalle with Veggies

I got this delicious recipe from a cookbook that was created by a group of women I attended church with years ago. A friend, Amanda, submitted it. It is so easy and so versatile. I make it with a variety of veggies, and it always turns out perfect. If you have a hankering for pasta, this should be on your plate!
Ingredients:
1 lb. farfalle (bowtie) pasta, cooked al dente (with some pasta water reserved for later)
5 Tbsp. butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 lb. mushrooms, sliced
AND/OR chicken, grilled and cut into bite size pieces
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 Cup Mascarpone cheese
pinch of ground nutmeg
1/4 Cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 head roasted garlic (If I'm too lazy to roast my garlic, I'll just mince some up and put it in with the onion.)
(I added fresh chopped tomato to mine in the above pic)
fresh parsley, chopped
Directions:
Melt butter and saute onions until translucent. Add mushrooms and saute about 5 minutes. Add asparagus and saute an additional 5 minutes. Add in the pasta, stir in Mascarpone cheese and nutmeg and toss until coated. Add roasted garlic. Add reserved pasta water, 1/4 Cup at a time, until moistened. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and parsley.
So delicious! Try it soon!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Recipe Share: Glazed Mini Meatloaves with Mashed Cauliflower

My kids have recently grown very fond of meatloaf. But, as much as I like it, too, I hate that it takes forever to cook!! So, when I found this recipe for mini meatloaves, I was thrilled. The glaze you put on the top is perfect, and it tastes great with some mashed cauliflower.
Ingredients:
17-20 saltine crackers, crushed fine (about 2/3 cup)
1/4 cup whole milk
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 large egg
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 pounds ground meat (My kids prefer beef, but I've used turkey or beef and pork as well.)
2 teaspoons oil (I used canola oil)

Glaze:
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
4 teaspoons cider vinegar

Directions:
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 425 degrees. Stir cracker crumbs, milk, parsley, Worcestershire sauce, egg, mustard, onion powder, garlic powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper together in a large bowl. Add ground meat and combine until uniform. Shape mixture into oval loaves. (I like to use the side of my hand to "cut" my meat into equal parts in the bowl. I cut my  meat into 8 equal parts.)

Heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until the oil is rippling. Add meatloaves (without letting them touch sides) and brown well on one side, 3-5 minutes. Carefully flip loaves over and tidy up edges using a spatula, if necessary.
Brown on this side for another 2-3 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix glaze ingredients together until smooth. Transfer mini meatloaves to a foil-lined baking pan and spoon the glaze over the top of each meatloaf. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the center of the loaf registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. You can always cut it open, too, to see if they're cooked all the way through.

Serve with mashed cauliflower, mashed potatoes, or whatever floats your boat. Enjoy!


Monday, August 22, 2016

Rosemary Home Fries with Pancetta, Parmesan, and Parsley.

I had a serious hankering for potatoes over the weekend. When I saw this Bobby Flay recipe online, I had to try it. The only thing I changed was I used bacon instead of pancetta. I wished I had used Yukon golds instead of Russets, but really, these were amazing. Probably my favorite breakfast potato recipe I've ever had. I ate them with an over easy egg, and I made sure to drizzle the rosemary oil over the whole dish before digging in.
Ingredients:
Rosemary oil:
1 C. Canola oil
1/2 C. fresh rosemary leaves
4 cloves garlic, crushed
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Home Fries:
One 1-inch-thick piece pancetta, diced
3 large russet potatoes, cooked in salt water until tender, cooled and diced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Pinch red pepper flakes
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:
For the oil: Combine the oil, rosemary, garlic and some salt and pepper in a blender and blend for 2 minutes. Let the oil sit for 30 minutes, and then strain through a fine mesh strainer into a small bowl. Set aside 1/4 cup, plus more as needed, for the home fries, and reserve the rest in an airtight container for another use.

For the home fries: Heat 1/4 cup of the rosemary oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until golden brown and crisp. Transfer to a plate.Add more rosemary oil to the skillet, if needed. (When I made this, I had a lot of bacon fat and oil left in the pan, so I poured some of it out before adding in the potatoes.) Add the potatoes in one layer and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook the potatoes, pressing the firmly with a spatula, until they are golden brown and crusty on the bottom. (I cooked mine for a good 7 minutes or so.) Turn the potatoes over, and repeat, adding more rosemary oil if needed. Stir in the parsley, red pepper flakes, reserved pancetta and cheese and serve from the pan.

So delicious!!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Recipe Share: Chicken, Avocado, and Lime Sandwiches


 I make this meal so often; I love it. It's so tasty and satisfying. My friend, Elizabeth is the creator of this recipe. I love all of her recipes. Check out her blog here. 

Here's the recipe.

4 chicken breasts (I actually like to slice two breasts in half because they're so large)
4 slices Swiss cheese
2 avocados, sliced
2 tomatoes, sliced
4 Kaiser rolls (or hamburger buns) - I like to use Orowheat Sandwich Thins, toasted
1 lime
Dressing (recipe below)

Drizzle chicken breasts with canola oil and season generously with salt and pepper (you can also marinate the chicken in lemon/lime juice, oil and salt and pepper for a few hours but I often don't think ahead that far in advance). Grill chicken until almost done (this takes me about 10 minutes because I half mine). Place cheese slices on top of each breast for the last few minutes of cooking until melted and bubbly. Remove from grill and squeeze lime juice over the chicken. Toast the buns and spread with dressing. Add chicken, avocado slices and tomato.

Dressing:
2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
Zest of 1 lime
Juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Combine all together in a small bowl and mix well. Set aside until ready to use.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Big Hero 6/Honey Lemon birthday party.

My twin sister, Jaime, is crazy talented. She is my party planning hero and her daughter's Big Hero 6/Honey Lemon themed birthday party was so incredible. I had to feature it here for you all to see.
(An adorable welcome sign Jaime designed)
Here's what Jaime wrote about her party menu, d├ęcor, party activities, and all the other great details:
.........................................................................................

I decided to do all Asian foods, since Big Hero 6 is set in San Fransokyo, and I love its Japanese vibe. Here was the menu I landed on:
  • sweet & sour meatballs with rice.  I used the Rosina brand frozen meatballs, but the Pioneer Woman's recipe for the sweet and sour sauce; it turned out delicious.
  • won tons of 3 varieties: crab & cream cheese, pineapple & cream cheese, and sausage & green onion. A friend helped me with these, and they were even yummier than I remembered. It had been too long since I'd had her delicious crab and cream cheese won tons and forever since I last made my mom's sausage and green onion won tons, and boy, did they deliver. The recipe for the pineapple and cream cheese ones was inspired by the appetizer Jacque and I love at RA.
  • Asian chopped salad with two dressings.  I bought the Costco bag of salad and served it with both the dressing that comes in the bag and a homemade red chili peanut dressing from Bobby Flay--both were yummy.
  • pineapple, blood oranges & strawberries with chocolate dipping sauce.  Another friend brought the fruit, and it was so sweet how she thought about the color scheme and chose blood oranges--they totally matched Honey Lemon's superhero uniform! So perfect! And of course, I used our favorite chocolate fondue recipe to make the dipping sauce. All of the fruit tasted SO GOOD with the chocolate. My favorite was the blood oranges. Don't, however, dip a sweet and sour meatball in the chocolate. In a wild moment of, "hey, everything tastes good with chocolate!" My hubs did exactly that. And he said it was revolting. Poor guy. Sometimes spontaneity gets ya right in the gotcha.
  • lemon cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.  A friend made these using a recipe I found from my sister-in-law, tweaking it a little to make them super lemony. They were amazing.
  • a candy buffet.  I chose candies inspired by all of the Big Hero 6 characters, e.g., Baymax lollipops, Hiro Hamada black licorice microbots, Honey Lemon tungsten carbide gum balls and chem balls, Fredzilla fire balls (hot tamales), Wasabi plasma blades (green apple sour gummies), and GoGo electro-mag discs (yellow chewy Sprees) -- The buffet turned out SO cute, and the kids (and adults) seemed to love it. 
  • a Honey Lemon-inspired five-layer birthday cake.  I had so much fun making this cake! And with the food coloring my friend gave me for my birthday last year, it was a cinch to get the layers exactly the right colors. I mixed a little blue and purple to get the eggplant color--so fun.
After I figured out the theme and menu, I designed the invitations. I knew I wanted the party to be superhero-focused, but I also still wanted it to have a girly feel, so I decided to use colors inspired by Honey Lemon's wardrobe: lemon yellow, hot pink, light pink, orange, and an eggplant purple color. I also used some lime green in the scheme just for some balance. I really love how everything turned out!
Here are some of the elements that made up the decor:

This amazing sushi wrapping paper I found on Etsy: I used it as a table runner, and it was perfect for the Japanese theme and color scheme. 
A felt garland my sweet friend sewed for me--I wanted it to look like Honey Lemon's chem balls . . . it turned out perfect.
Some gum balls that looked exactly like Honey Lemon's tungsten carbide ball that she turns into pink dust in the movie . . . do you remember? And some Honey Lemon-esque flowers:
 
The stem of pink puff balls was the very first thing I bought for Cate's party, actually. It just screamed Honey Lemon, and its sort of mod/minimalist feel really drove the way I envisioned the rest of the decor.

And some pretty yellow mums, and this supercool white and yellow filler flower to add more color:

deep purple mini carnations too:
And did you notice the little vases shaped like chemistry vials??
We decided to do some chemistry experiments with the kids in lieu of games, (since Honey Lemon is a chemist and all), and it was so much fun. The kids seemed to enjoy it, and I think the parents really did too. HA. :)

But first, some more of the party elements:

The cute straws and mini paper cups we put with the candy buffet:
The candy labels I designed to go along with the candy buffet:





The Chinese takeout boxes I found at Party City and the thank you label I designed in Photoshop.  The kids and adults used these to fill with food leftovers and candy to take home.
The adorable Honey Lemon stuffed doll we found at Toys R Us and the pink lollipops we found at Party City.
So much cuteness!
Another sign I designed and put on an orange magnet board I had, and the Baymax lanterns I made to hang above the table. I was surprised by how many times I had to adjust the width of the line between his eyes and the size of his eyes too to get the lantern to look like Baymax. The proportions of his face are apparently very specific. 
Oh, and in case you're curious where I found the font, it's actually called Big Hero 6, and it's free! Easy peasy!

I also covered some books with white paper and titled them as if they were books Honey Lemon would have in her lab:
I thought that was a pretty clever idea. Hehe. :)

And here are some pictures of everything put together:

Because the buffet was backlit at the time of the party, the lighting in the photos wasn't super great, but you can get the idea:


My husband helped me hang the felt circle garland, balloons and Baymax lanterns from the ceiling fan. He's really good at stuff like that:


My sweet friend helped me take pictures, and she managed to snag one of me in the process--looking a little haggard and sans makeup, as is usual when I'm hosting parties at my house.  ;)
 Check out these adorable and super yummy cupcakes my friend made! They were lemon flavored with a cream cheese frosting, and oh my, they were so good!
The candy buffet:
The delicious wontons:
The dipping sauces:
I was in love with the adorable science goggles I found for the kids. They came in all sorts of colors, and it was so cute seeing the kids running around with them on. Safety first, am I right? :)
After eating and playing on the trampoline a while, my husband divided the kids into two groups, so we could do the science experiments. The older kids came to my station first, where we made bubbling test tubes, and the younger kids went to his station first, where they got to see what happens when you put mentos in a big bottle of Coke.

They squealed and screamed and loved it.

At my station, I had a test tube for each child, and we added water and oil to each and then a drop of food coloring in the color of their choice. Then I handed each of them a small piece of an Alka Seltzer, and on the count of three, they all dropped their Alka Seltzer piece in to their test tube . . .
It was so cool to see the colorful bubbles fizzing up from the bottom of the tubes to the top. And the bubbling lasted a good while.
We did it again with the younger kids:
 
It was so cool to watch! Even the adults were into it.
They all seemed to have a lot of fun with the experiments.

After the experiments, we sang Happy Birthday to Cate and let her blow out her candle. Here's a close up of the Honey Lemon inspired cake.

The evening wrapped up with the kids (and adults) visiting the candy and food buffet some more, (can you say chocolate dipping sauce and fruit?), and many of the kids playing with water balloons outside .

The entire party went so smoothly and was so much fun. It did all of our hearts such good to spend such a happy evening together with our dear, precious friends. We love them all so much!
..........................................................................................

And there you have it!! An amazing, fun, colorful, thoughtful party by my twin sister. I was with her when she started the first plans for this party, and to see it all come to fruition is so awesome.

Thank you, Jaime, for sharing your amazing party with all of us! You are a rock star!