Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs Birthday Party!

My kids love the book Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, so they couldn't wait to see the movie when it came out in theaters!  We now own it on DVD (I know, we live in a technologically lame household and don't have Blue-Ray).  This is such a cute show.  If you haven't seen it yet, treat yourself to a chuckle and give it a view.

My son enjoys this movie so much that he requested a Cloudy With a Chance Of Meatballs themed party for his 4th Birthday.  I took his challenge and did my best to come up with some fun ideas.  As always it's hard to take photos at a busy Birthday party when you are the host, but Mike and I did manage a few.

Besides a bounce house filled with toy squeaky cheeseburgers (found in the dollar bins at Target), the Spaghetti & Meatball cupcakes were a party highlight.

Shhhh...no one tell Suzanne Somers. Winks...(snort-snort)

To make the cupcakes I piped butter-cream icing with a #234 tip to look like spaghetti noodles. 
Large Grass Decorating Tube #234
Then topped the icing with Strawberry pie glace (I used Kroger brand).  Next I added a Ferreo Rocher chocolate candy for my meatball and put a wee bit more strawberry glaze on the meatball.  I topped off the entire cupcake with freshly grated white chocolate...to look like Parmesan cheese, of course!

Phoenix had a chill in the air on party day, so we put together a last minute hot cocoa bar.  I took a glass vase and filled it with holiday shaped marshmallows and then hung candy canes around the rim for stir sticks.  Everyone love it!

I found some really fun and unique gummi food for the kids to take home as favors. 

Each bag contained gummi cheeseburgers, hot dogs, pizza, pop and even sour gummi french fries.   No favor bag would be complete, however, without my son's very favorite thing from this movie...
Spray-On Shoes!!!!
Or in this case, a decorated can of Silly String.  Grin.  If you're not familiar with Spray-On Shoes, just watch this clip.

At the end of the day, a good time was had by all.  Especially by Lawson when he got his beloved Monster Truck Mater, aka The Tormentor.

The Birthday boy later that day...

Happy December Everyone!  Looks who's back at our house...

(riding a turkey, mind you, because I'm a dead-beat who hasn't taken down my Thanksgiving decorations yet! Ha!)

Friday, November 26, 2010

"Leftover" Turkey Sliders, Sweet Potato Fries & Pumpkin Pie Milkshakes...Oh My!

I think the scrumdelicious turkey sandwiches created the next day are what I love most about Thanksgiving dinner!  I've been know to pile just about anything from the Thanksgiving meal on my post holiday sandwich.  This year I decided to jazz things up a bit.  After reading a Facebook post that made me salivate when someone mentioned dipping their sweet potato french fries in a pumpkin pie milk shake (yes, Dustin...you are responsible), I decided this must be included in my post holiday menu!   

I started my menu planning by hunting for the best pumpkin pie milkshake recipe I could find.  The one I decided to make was featured in Cooking Light as a recipe contest finalist with rave reviews.
Pumpkin Pie Shake

Next for the sweet potato fries!
I've heard Trader Joes has delicious sweet potato fries, but I just couldn't make it there before the holiday, so I grabbed these Ore Ida Sweet Potato Fries at the grocery store. They were GOOD!

Armed with leftover turkey, Rhodes dinner rolls and the usual Thanksgiving fair.  I came up with these Turkey sliders.  Splitting a Rhodes dinner roll, I spread one side with mayo and the other with honey butter (see this post for recipe  http://thelemonista.blogspot.com/2010/10/bee-happy-eat-honey-butter.html) and cranberry sauce.  I then loaded the roll with as much turkey as it could hold and stabbed the creation through with a toothpick.  DELISH!   I think the only way to improve would be to add a slice of Monterey Jack Cheese and pop them, open face, under the broiler to melt the cheese.  Alas, I was fresh out of this yummy cheese.  There's always next year.  Grin.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Apple Cranberry Sausage Unstuffed Stuffing & Chocolate Russian Matryoshka Dolls

If there are two things that kick off the holiday season for me, it's the sagey smell of stuffing roasting in the oven and the spotting of Russian Matryoshka dolls in retail stores.  I had a set of wooden Russian nesting dolls as a child that completely captivated me, so I imagine that to be the origin of my fascination.

I will get to my favorite unstuffed stuffing recipe in a bit, but first take a gander at this cuteness at Fancy Flours. Made of dark chocolate, she is so pretty, I picture her as the queen of any dessert tray.

And these little white chocolate Russian dolls would be so darling on top of cupcakes!

Okay, for my favorite unstuffed stuffing.  Grin.  Now my favorite stuffing comes out of the bird, but even a twenty pound turkey has limited space, so more is always needed to go around.  Or, perhaps the craving for stuffing sneaks up when turkey isn't on the menu.  Whatever the reason, you can never gone wrong with this delicious stuffing.
You will need:

Put the stuffing cubes in a large bowl and set aside. 

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet.  Add sausage and cook until almost all pink is gone. Around 5 min.

Add the sausage and drippings to the stuffing cubes.

Melt remaining butter in pan.  Add onion, apple, celery, poultry seasoning, fresh sage, salt & pepper.  Cook until the vegetables get soft.  Around 5 min.

Add broth, parsley & cranberries.

Bring to a boil.

Mix pecans, and drained water chestnuts with stuffing cube/ sausage mixture.
Pour vegetable mixture over the stuffing and toss.
Mix in beaten eggs.

Loosely pack the stuffing into a buttered 3-quart casserole dish.

Bake 40 min at 325 degrees. Uncovered.
Remove from oven and drizzle with 2 tablespoons turkey pan drippings, OR melted butter, OR the drippings from the bottom of rotisserie chicken container. 
Return to oven and bake another 20 min. Uncovered.

I served this stuffing with Costco rotisserie chicken, carrots and grapes for a simple dinner (When it's not Turkey Day).

Apple Cranberry Sausage Unstuffed Stuffing

6 generous cups stuffing cubes (dried & unseasoned)
6 tablespoons butter
1 pound fresh sausage
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped
2 ribs celery with leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh sage, minced
1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
3 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley or 1/8 cup dried.
1/2 cup toasted pecan pieces
1/2 cup dried, sweetened cranberries
1 small can sliced water chestnuts (optional)
2 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 325.  Butter 3 qt. casserole dish.
Put the stuffing cubes in a large bowl and set aside.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet. Add sausage and cook until almost all pink is gone. Around 5 min.

Add the sausage and drippings to the stuffing cubes.

Melt remaining butter in pan. Add onion, apple, celery, poultry seasoning, fresh sage, salt & pepper. Cook until the vegetables get soft. Around 5 min.

Add broth, parsley & cranberries.

Bring to a boil. Mix toasted pecans, and drained water chestnuts with stuffing cube/ sausage mixture.

Pour vegetable mixture over the stuffing and toss to distribute moisture.
Mix in beaten eggs.
Loosely pack the stuffing into a buttered 3-quart casserole dish.

Bake 40 min at 325 degrees. Uncovered.

Remove from oven and drizzle with 2 tablespoons turkey pan drippings, OR melted butter, OR the drippings from the bottom of rotisserie chicken container.
Return to oven and bake another 20 min. Uncovered.


~The Lemonista

Sunday, November 21, 2010

And The Winner Is...

Good Morning Everyone!
I hope you're enjoying a nice relaxing Sunday with the fam. 
Here's our very scientific results for today's drawing. 

In search of some non-biased specimen to handle the number selection, I found these two wild creatures watching cartoons on my sofa.

This one was too rambunctious to focus on the drawing, so I moved on to the wild thing in pink

The winner of the Holiday Bento Box is...


Congrats to Kim :-)
Email me your address and those boxes will be on their way to you first thing Monday!
Thanks for playing everyone.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Glam Up Basic Black For The Holidays & My Favorite Coffee!

Just a reminder that I will do the drawing for the holiday Bento boxes first things Sunday morning 11/21/10.  Followers of my blog can leave a comment on this thread to be entered in the drawing.

Sometimes all you need to spice up your holiday wardrobe is a little sparkle!  Who doesn't look sharp in basic black?  However a basic, such as black, needs the compliment of something special to make it memorable. I love a touch of sparkle to glam things up or an eye catching punch of color.  I recently bought this basic black outfit from Banana Republic.

Essential turtleneck


Five-pocket velvet skinny pant


I plan to get a lot of mileage out of these two basic black staples as I can think of many ways to change up this set.  I wore this outfit to my son's Thanksgiving program last night and followed my holiday rule of sparkle and color.  I added this glitter belt in black from New York & Company. 
Sparkle Skinny Belt

And these tartan ruffle flats from (ready for this) PAYLESS!  Yes folks, these fabulous shoes were only $16.99!  They are cute, comfy and the perfect holiday accessory.  Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that they come in girl sizes too.  Elyse and I now have matching shoes ;-)
WomensAmerican EagleConrad Tartan Ruffle Flat

Another option for this basic black outfit would be to skip the belt, add one of those flowing grey cardigans that can either drape or be tied in front and some glitter flats.  My gorgeous friend Meg has these Kate Spade beauties:


These Steve Madden glitter flats are similar and another great option

Steve Madden 'Kinnetic' Flat


Target also has some cute glitter flats for girls this season if you wanted to coordinate Mother/daughter outfits.

There are literally dozens of other accessory combinations to change up this black set.  I hope I've given you a few ideas to convey that.

Now for my morning religion--Coffee! 

Last year, after almost 15 years of marriage, the coffee maker that Mike and I got as a wedding gift finally died.  Being the savvy consumer that I am, I spent weeks researching and reading reviews about coffee makers trying to decide on a replacement.  Learning more than I ever wanted to know about coffee makers, there was one important fact that helped make my decision.  Although having a built in grinder is very convenient.  The most frequent part of a coffee maker to break is the grinder mechanism.  Grinders are inexpensive to purchase as a separate appliance, but one that is part of a expensive coffee maker is not so cheap to replace.  A subscriber to Cooks Illustrated, I decided to add their number one pick to my Christmas list-- The  TECHNIVROM MOCCAMASTER. 
Technivorm KBT-741 Moccamaster Coffee Maker
Few had even heard of this coffee make when I went on the hunt for it last Christmas but since then William Sonoma began singing it's praises and now it has gone mainstream.

I have to give credit to Clive Coffee in Portland.  http://www.clivecoffe.com/
My husband ordered this coffee maker from them last year when few others carried it and they even sent some of their fabulous hand roasted coffee along with it for us to sample!  Brilliant marketing.  I've since become a coffee snob.   Their Ethiopia Yirgacheffe is my hands-down favorite.

Here I am opening my Christmas present (that I picked...ha ha)

Between the Technivorm and Clive's amazing hand roasted coffee, I had no idea coffee could taste so good!  Seriously....perfection.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thanksgiving Bento & Holiday Bento Givaway!

Someone told me the official countdown to Christmas the other day and I almost fell over!  I always feel as though I exist within a pressure cooker from now until the end of the year.  Yet, somehow through the hectic bustle, my husband and I manage to get it all done.  As Turkey Day approaches I thought it would be fun to take another stab at Thanksgiving Bento.  Here's what I came up with this morning...

  • PB&J sandwich cut out with a LunchPunch cutter. www.lunchpunch.com
  • Royal icing Pilgrims & Indians from FancyFlours.   www.fancyflours.com
  • American cheese turkey footprints made with bird footprint cutter.
  • Corn on the Cob slices decorated with provolone cheese circles and faces made from nori punch.
  • Pillsbury Turkey cookies.  (ready to bake in the refrig dough section at grocery store).  In silicon baking cup.
  • Grapes with veggie food picks. In silicon baking cup.
I think it's time for another giveaway!!!  I found these adorable holiday Bento boxes at Borders and I picked up an extra set for my sweet friends on the blog! 

All you need to do to be entered into the drawing for these four adorable nesting boxes is to be a follower of my blog and leave a comment on this post.  I will announce the winner Sunday morning 11/21/2010. 
Good Luck!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Strombolis! A Delicious Italian Sandwich The Whole Family Will Enjoy Making!

My very best friend in the whole wide world (aka BFF, confidant & partner in crime) makes Strombolis to tempt even the more finicky of palate!  You see her family actually owned an Italian restaurant in Grand Rapids Michigan back in the 80's and this classic recipe was one their customer favorites!   My whole family loves to join in the fun of rolling dough and piling on yummy toppings. 

You will need
 stromboli 003

Thaw your dough per the instructions on the bag.  One loaf of dough will make three sandwiches.

Preheat over to 350 degrees.  Flour the dough, your work surface and rolling pin.

Cut the dough into three parts.

Roll dough into large ovalish rectangle.

Add three slices of salami to one side of the dough.

Add six slices of pepperoni.

Add one slice of deli ham.

Add one slice of American cheese.

Add one slice of provolone cheese.

Add one slice of mozzarella cheese.

Fold dough over to form a pocket.

Pinch and roll the edge to seal.  Cut a slit on top to vent.
 stromboli 012

Place Stromboli on parchment lined baking sheet and cook for 18-22 minutes.
Remove strombolis from oven.
  stromboli 013
while hot, rub the top with butter and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Cut Stromboli in half and serve with pizza sauce for dipping!

On the decor front this Friday, just look at the adorable turkey who came home with me from Cost Plus!

Gobble! Gobble!

The Lewis Family Strombolis

Rhodes frozen white bread dough (one loaf makes three sandwiches)
American cheese
Provolone cheese
Mozzarella cheese
A jar of Ragu Pizza Sauce

Thaw desired about of dough and cut into three sections.  Flour the dough and your work space.  Roll dough into large oval like rectangle.  On one side of the dough, layer salami, pepperoni, ham, American cheese, provolone cheese and mozzarella cheese (in that order).  Fold dough over the ingredients to form a pocket.  Pinch and roll edge to seal.  Cut a slit on top.  Place stromboli on parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 18-22 minutes.  Remove stromboli from oven.  While still hot, rub the top with butter and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Cut stromboli in half and serve with pizza sauce for dipping.

*The recipe is linked on the Project Queen Link Party #7.

~The Lemonista