Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Winnie the Pooh Birthday

Even though it happens every year, I can't believe my son just got older! Yesterday he turned the ripe old age of 4, and even with friends being sick and having to stay home we had a lot of fun.

Sam asked for a Winnie the Pooh theme this year and I really enjoyed putting it together. We had it at the dance studio I work at, thanks to the kindness of my friend the owner!

I was surprised to find that there weren't any Winnie the Pooh decorations in the party sections of local stores, so I used color to give our party room the Pooh feeling. A yellow table cloth with red place settings worked very well. For a little centerpiece I tied a blue balloon to Sam's stuffed Pooh Bear, a tribute to the story where Pooh tried to get honey from the honey tree by pretending to be a rain cloud. It may have worked a little better if we had helium balloons, but oh well. 

 Sam's other stuffed Pooh friends joined the party as well, and I used black and orange streamers to represent Tigger.

Pin the Tail on Eeyore
A Winnie the Pooh twist on the classic pin the tail on the donkey. My husband found an online printable and put it together for me. Sam admits that "he only peeked with one eye!"

Pooh Pinata:
Another birthday party classic. Sam saw a cartoon about the Mexican Christmas tradition of Las Posadas, and has been asking for a pinata for his birthday ever since.

Tigger's Bounce and Freeze:
Just another twist on a familiar kid favorite! While the music plays, everyone bounces, (The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers would be a good music choice), and when the music stops, everyone has to freeze!

The birthday boy requested apple slices, carrots, milk, and chicken nuggets, so that is what we had. To make it a little more Pooh themed we brought in honey barbeque sauce, honey mustard, and honey to dip the nuggets in as well as some honey nut Chex mix. We were going to call the veggie tray with the carrots "Rabbit's Garden" but I didn't get around to making cute labels for the food.

The cake was classic chocolate, Sam's favorite, made in Wilton's teddy bear pan and frosted to look like Winnie the Pooh with a star tip.

Happy 4th Birthday Sam! Thanks for all the joy you bring into our lives!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Kumquat Christmas Drink

Over the weekend we went to my dad's to help pick out a Christmas tree and decorate the house. Of course my dad always has a nice assortment of goodies laid out for the festivities. Everything from cheese and sausage, to a variety of homemade pickled veggies. The beverage of choice for festive gatherings in my family is something we simply call "Christmas Drink."

It started when my brothers and sisters and I were little. We wanted a "fancy" drink like the grown ups had, so my dad came up with this drink by grabbing a couple random things from the grocery store. He ended up grabbing raspberry pop and kumquats.

In addition to our special drink, kumquats themselves have become a Christmas tradition in our family. We started out with just the little pints you could get at the grocery store, but then I discovered kumquatgrowers.com, where you  can order 10 pound boxes of kumquats to be delivered right to your door! Things really started taking off then, and we make almost everything we  can out of kumquats. In fact one of my very first posts on this blog was my dad's recipe for kumquat marmalade.

For those of you who have not been following my blog from the beginning and don't know what a kumquat is here is my explaination:

 A kumquat is a small citrus fruit. The rind is sweet and the inside is sour. After the seeds are removed it is eaten whole, skin and all.  The season for kumquats lasts from about November through March. In the United States they mostly grow in Florida.

Kumquat Christmas drink is quite simple, but lots of fun! (I mean, what kid doesn't find the mere word "kumquat" a hoot?")

Kumquat Christmas Drink

-1 glass raspberry pop (raspberry pop has been hard to find recently, so we've been using cranberry. You could fancy it up by using sparkling raspberry spumante, or make it more adult by adding some white wine or your alcohol of choice.)
-At least two kumquats, more if you like it. .

1. Fill a glass with raspberry pop
2. Roll the kumquats on a cutting board to release the oils and get the juices going.
3. Cut the kumquats in half, and drop them into the glass of pop.
4. When the pop is all gone, eat the raspberry soaked kumquats.


This post is linked up on Carole's Chatter: Food on Friday: Christmas Favourites, Check it out! 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Tostadas for Our Lady of Guadalupe/St. Juan Diego

The dates of December 9th and December 12th are pretty special for my family. The ninth is the feast of St. Juan Diego, who my son proclaimed was his patron saint when he was only two years old. The twelfth is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which is the title we give to Mary as she appeared to St. Juan Diego. Our Lady of Guadalupe converted the nation of Mexico, and I am half Mexican, (with a few other things thrown in there) on my mother's side, so that has special significance in that way as well.  My grandfather can trace our ancestry back to native Mexican civilizations, so I like to think that somewhere in history, my family came into the Catholic Church by hearing the story of St. Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Since the two feast days are so close together, we cook Mexican food on whichever day happens to work best for our family that year. This year I had work conflicts on both the 9th and the 12th, so we had our special dinner yesterday, inbetween the two!

This year we made tostadas. They are special, but still easy enough to pull off on a weeknight. Think of it like taco night kicked up a notch. Tostadas are a fried tortilla shell topped with all sorts of goodies like beans, guacamole, cheese, lettuce and tomatoes. For a side we sliced up some jicama, lemons, and limes. Jicama is a Mexican root vegetable that tates kind of like a cross between an apple and a potato. Our favorite way to eat it is simple: sliced raw with a squeeze of lemon or lime juice and a sprinkle of salt. We also made some Mexican hot chocolate, my son's favorite part of the meal! Mexican chocolate disks are normally pretty easy to find in the Mexican section of your grocery store. To make the hot chocolate all you do is melt the chocolate into some milk on the stove, and whisk it until frothy! The Our Lady of Guadalupe candle in the picture we also got in the Mexican food section of our local grocery store, there is even a prayer on the back!


For the shells:
Flour and/or corn tortillas
vegetable oil

For topping:
-refried beans (Do I know how to make my own from scratch? Yes. But sometimes a working mom needs to take a shortcut; this time I used beans from a can!)
-guacamole - mine was simple: avacadoes smashed with some salt and lime juice
-taco meat (optional) - we simply browned some hamuburger seasoned with chilli poweder, garlic powder, cayenne, salt and pepper
-shredded cheese
-sour cream
-hot sauce
-lemons and limes for squeezing juice over the top

Fill a frying pan with oil and heat until ready for frying. (I usually tear off a small piece of tortilla to test the oil.) Using tongs, gently place the tortilla in the oil.

Fry the tortilla until one side is golden brown and crispy. Flip the tortilla and repeat on the other side. When frying the tortilla will puff up, this is normal, don't worry! Its also pretty fun.

Set the finished tortillas on a plate line with paper towels.

Top it with whatever you like, but the refried beans are always first. And remember, this is a dish you pick up and eat with your hands. If you don't make a mess, you're not doing it right!

Though this can be a meal all by itself, here are some suggestions of things you could serve along side them:
Jicama with lemons and/or limes and salt
Mexican hot chocolate
Horchata (a Mexican rice and cinnamon drink )
My great grandmother's arroz con pollo (chicken with rice)  which can be found on this blog!

To learn more about St. Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe, click here. 

 This post is linked up at the Catholic Bloggers Network monthly link up blitz and the Equipping Catholic Families 2014 Saints Linkup! Check it out!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Rosemary Lemon Shortbread

Its December, and even if you are fully celebrating Advent and doing your best not to get pulled into Christmas craziness just yet, you will probably find yourself baking and/or eating cookies!

Monday is a professional development day for the staff at the virtual school I work for. Normally not too exciting, but since the school is virtual, I will be meeting many of my colleagues in person for the first time. We are also having a cookie exchange!

I decided to make my number one favorite cookie of all time; rosemary shortbread. This may sound a little strange to some people, but it is amazing! I think they are wonderful for Christmas as well because the rosemary is reminiscent of pine trees. The buttery cookie studded with aromatic rosemary and just the right touch of sweetness is in my mind, perfection.

This time around I decided to add another special touch with the addition of some lemon zest. Rosemary and lemon go very well together, so why not? If you want to add extra lemon flavor try adding a little lemon extract. They are delicious fresh out of the oven, but taste even better a few days later.

Rosemary Lemon Shortbread

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
2/3 cup white sugar
2 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
zest of 1 lemon
2 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

  1.  In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the flour salt, lemon zest and rosemary until well blended. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour
  2.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out cookies with a cookie cutter and place cookies 1 inch apart on the lined cookie sheets.
  4. Bake for 8 - 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Cool on wire racks, and store in an airtight container at room temperature. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving Prayer Banner

Here we go, another Thanksgiving post! As I previously mentioned in my Thanksgiving Turkey Wreath post, this year is the tenth anniversary of our family gathering at my grandfather's farm for Thanksgiving and I decided to make some decorations to help make it extra special. The wreath is one of those decorations, but I've also been working on this banner.

I got the idea from Catholic Icing. There I found meal prayer table runners made with a bleach pen. I really like the idea and thought it would be great to hang something like that up in the barn. Rather then buying a table runner I used some fabric I already had in my craft box and some (actually a lot of!) hot glue to create the banner. I bought a bleach pen, but then I lost it, so I wrote the beginning of the traditional Catholic meal prayer with white fabric paint. I added a little glitter fabric for a little sparkle as well. Due to the permanence of paint, I made sure I drew my picture and wrote my words with chalk first.

I think it turned out really well, and I can't wait to get to the barn tomorrow to hang it up and spend time with my amazing extended family! We all have so much to be thankful for, and this Thanksgiving make sure to remember that God is the source of all those good things and to thank Him. 

This post is linked up on the Catholic Bloggers Network Monthly Link Up Blitz 

Friday, November 22, 2013