Thursday, December 1, 2011

I Had A Good Excuse. Or Two Or Three.

When last we met I was pregnant with number 3, quietly settled with my husband at home, taking care of my kids.  All hell has since broken loose.  My husband had to go on a three-month assignment.  He had all his personal belongings stolen.  I started a small business.  I had my third baby.  Hubs got promoted.  We moved to another state.  And then, because we weren't busy enough, we got a puppy.  Hi, my name is Jackie and I need to be committed. 

While he was off training, I thought I'd try to make things easier on myself and cook kid food every once in awhile for dinner, and stock up on relatively healthy packaged foods:  fruit cups, yogurt, hummus, etc.  My first attempt at kid food was grilled cheese.  My almost-2 and almost-4 year olds looked at me like I had two heads.  This is the only "con" I have encountered to feeding your kids the same things you eat.  They don't grow up eating grilled cheese.  I couldn't quite seem to get it right, either, the bread was burnt or the cheese wasn't melted, and then somebody told me I need to use American cheese.  Not happening.  Grilled Cheese: abandoned.

We ate a lot of pasta this summer.

My friends did an amazing job of distracting me from the fact that I was essentially a single mother of three with a newborn, and they even helped with the housework.  I couldn't have asked for better friends, and of course the grandparents helped a great deal while I was a postpartum hormonal mess.  After about 8 weeks of that we moved into our new home, unpacked our kitchen, and I figured I should start cooking for real again.  I took pictures with the intent of blogging, but time is not something I have in abundance.  Finally, here I am.

For Ayla's second birthday, we threw her a butterfly party.  I ordered decorations and crafts for the kids, and made some super-fun kid party food :)  I always worry that other people's kids won't like my food, so I frequently serve PBJs at kids parties.  This time I used a cookie cutter to make them fit the theme.

Then I made two butterfly cakes.

I could have made one two-layer cake, but I wanted to decorate both butterflies. 

I got the cake mold from Oriental Trading and I used gel icing to decorate the butterflies.

Next I wanted to use these adorable molds, but I wanted something savory to act as the entree so I decided to do a filled pastry.  I don't know why spanikopita popped into my head, but that's what I decided to go with.  First I rolled out three cans of seamless crescent roll dough with a little flour, cut each into 6 rectangles, and stretched out each rectangle in my hands a little before lining the mold with it.  You have to push it down in the mold a little bit, and it can be tricky but you have flour on the dough and on your hands it should work.  Then I put two fresh baby spinach leaves, without the stems, in the bottom of each mold. 

I topped it with chicken that my husband previously diced, seasoned, cooked, and drained; and then with some store-bought, pre-seasoned, crumbled feta cheese.  Then I folded the dough over the top of the pastries to completely cover the filling and baked them until golden brown. 

They were delicious.

These pastries are really versatile.  We did it the day after thanksgiving with fontina cheese and cranberry sauce.  I did it today with sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, mozzarella, and spinach.  You could do it with eggs and bacon.  Endless possibilities.

Of course since I had a butterfly cookie cutter I had to make sugar cookies.  I've gotten used to store-bought dough because honestly, it tastes better than my home made dough, and it's way easier.  The decorating is the important part anyway. 

Make a paste with powdered sugar and water and use food coloring to make it whatever color you want.  You want it to be a pretty thick paste, or it will never dry.  Here, I wanted to use different colors of sprinkles on each cookie.  To do this, I painted a little icing on the cookie, sprinkled with desired color, and shook off the excess sprinkles before painting icing on another section of the cookie.  If you paint the whole thing with icing before sprinkling, the sprinkles will stick everywhere. 

This was a 10 AM party, which is simultaneously awesome and terrifying.  Awesome, because you're cleaned up and recovered by dinnertime with a much smaller chance of finding drunk college kids on your living room floor.  Terrifying because you wake up on a Saturday morning and OMG YOU'RE HAVING PEOPLE OVER IN TWO HOURS!!  Anyway, the party was a hit and I got a slew of easy dinner ideas out of it!  Bonus!

If I can just get through this parenting thing without giving any of my kids a complex, I think I will be satisfied.  My three year old is crazy.  I wonder where she gets it from.

1 comment:

  1. Jackie I love your blog! Keep 'em coming!! (ps you are my HERO I can't wait til I'm a mom and you can tell me how to be a master at it like you!! xoxo