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Monday, August 27, 2012

Rainbow Party

Rainbow Birthday

for a little lady 
who was turning 5
Decorations were kept super simple for this party.
 It was held at a kid establishment with bouncey houses, arcade games,
 and pedal cars. 
 This place is painted in bright colors so we embraced the idea and made 
the party a rainbow theme.

I just used a paper punch (purchased at a craft store) with 
solid colored card stock
 to make the flower confetti. 
I know you've seen me use these tissue flowers a lot lately, but they're just so easy
 and affordable I can't help it! So it's probably time to share the tutorial on how to make these.
  Here's where I learned how to do them.

I made six double-batches of play dough for these favors. Totally worth it.
I love how they turned out and making your own play dough makes a party favor
 almost anyone can afford. I'll post my favorite play dough recipe and the bottom of this post.

When my mom saw this cake she said, "That's the most simple cake I've ever seen you make." 
My response: "Just wait until we cut into it!"
Those flowers are made with fruit rolls cut into circles then folded.
 They're sticky enough all you have to do is put the folded circles together
until you have the flower as big as you like.

Ta-da!!! I love how this cake turned out on the inside. 
Sure it took lots of time to bake (having only two 9-inch cake pans),
 but it was so worth it! 

It was really fun to see all the kids faces (and some grown-ups too)
 when we sliced into this. 
It took some extra food coloring, but it didn't hurt the cake at all. In fact I think that bit of 
extra moisture just might have improved  my cake recipe. 
I used a white cake and divided up the batter, 
then added color until it looked good and bright.*


So here's my favorite play dough recipe. I love the texture of this. I think it's even better than what you can purchase in stores. If you color looks a bit dull to begin with, just have patience. It brightens as it cooks.

1 cup white flour
1/4 cup salt
2 tablespoons cream of tarter
1 cup water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
food coloring

Mix flour, salt and cream of tarter in a medium pot. Mix water, oil and food coloring in a two cup measuring cup. Add liquid to flour mixture and stir continuously over medium heat. It will start out a gooey mess, but as it heats will thicken.  When the mixture forms a ball in the center of the pot take it off the heat and allow to cool a bit. On a lightly floured surface knead dough until smooth.

If you double the recipe you may want to squish and cook the dough a bit after it forms a ball to make sure the center is cooked thoroughly. 

Cream of tarter is pretty expensive - but not as expensive as buying play dough. Don't skip this stuff. It is what gives this dough its awesome texture.

I've heard white dough is hard to achieve. Not so with this recipe. I was happy with my results make the white layer, just omit the food coloring.

Sometimes I add glitter into the flour mixture. My kids absolutely love sparkly play dough. 

Another fun add in is scents. Just add a teaspoon of peppermint, root beer, orange, etc. extract.  Just be sure to warn young ones that it's only to smell because it won't taste good! 

Weather can slightly effect the texture. I made the above rainbow jars in blazing summer heat. Rather than a lightly floured surface, I had a spray bottle on hand to keep them all from drying as a worked the next color.

*One final note on color. I've had trouble with achieving my desired color when using liquid food color. Especially with purple - why does it always look gray to me?  Buy the neon colors. Sure they're name brand and a bit more money but IT IS WORTH IT. 
For the green above I mixed regular green with neon. For the blue I used mostly neon with a little regular. The purple is only neon and it is truly purple - Hooray no gray!!! 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

August Family Movie Night:
Can you guess what movie we watched?


Here are my Ratatouille casseroles all ready for the oven.
 I looked up lots of different recipes for this and took the ideas I like from different ones to create my own. It turned healthy and yummy (hidden below all those veggies is a delicious tomato sauce). Best of all you get a huge portion (this is only 8 servings between both dishes) for only 100 calories! 
I'll happily share my process if anyone is interested.

Ratatouille for Ratatouille family night is obvious but we added two other simple french dishes to balance our meal out. This is a fennel salad that is really easy, and something different to try. I found this recipe at 

The recipe for these stuffed mushrooms were also from the website "Easy French Food"
Not as easy as the salad, but still worth the effort.

Here's the main course out of the oven. 

So this meal may not seem very kid friendly but I was pleasantly surprised. All three of my kids wanted seconds on the ratatouille and the salad. Maybe they're a little odd though, probably not many kids out there who won't eat macaroni and cheese but can't get enough vegetarian French food! Whatever the reason, we all enjoyed this months dinner and movie and dessert....
French Macarons
I was totally surprised by how well these turned out. After much internet research I was feeling very intimidated by these little cookies, but not having the $2.75 per cookie to go buy them at our local french bakery I dove in and gave it a try. 

Like I said, researching how to make these will stress you out. So after all that time, I decided to try the simplest recipe I could find. This came from Martha Stewart. Don't be intimidated by "almond flour." That's just ground up almonds. You can do it in your coffee grinder or food processor.
 I kept with the basic recipe and sandwiched simple ganache between. 

Maybe it was beginner's luck but all my cookies came out with "feet," crispy outer shells, fluffy and chewy on the inside. They were amazing.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Movie Night
Once a month we schedule a "Family Movie Night." 
Before the year started I came up with twelve themes (dinner and movies that go together) and created these tickets. At the start of each month we pull out our card, check our calendars, and choose a date.
We usually choose kid movies, but this month's movie was: 
State Fair


 Some of the food was just "Fair Food," others were just ones the kids liked the looks of at the Dollar Store, but a few are right from the movie. I had to have mincemeat, if you've ever seen the movie you know why. And the sour pickles were so easy and affordable and kids seem to love everything more when you put it on a skewer!

 Our movie night this month fell on a birthday so the cake banner says "Happy Birthday" but it would be just as cute and easy saying "State Fair"

This was one of our more elaborate movie nights. I'll keep posting as we have more. There will definitely be some that are more simple and affordable later.