Category Archives: Snacks

Isaiah’s Curious George Themed First Birthday Party

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Let’s get some cliché things out of the way:

  1. I can’t believe he’s already 1!
  2. It seems like yesterday I just gave birth to him.
  3. This year has flown by with him.

*He is actually 15 months right now, but this post took a long time.  🙂

Cliché and so so true.  When he turned one I got really sad thinking of how much he’s grown.  From a tiny 7 pound baby to a 20+ pound tubby.  With his big hair, eight teeth and personality, he’s really not at all baby and has become a real boy.  And, it’s been quite an adventure with him.  Just when I think I have something figured out or a semblance of a routine, he changes and then we start again.  There is no relaxing with this kid.

As a crazy obsessed mother, I have been planning his first birthday much earlier than I want to admit.  I wanted it to be cozy and filled with family, close friends and things he loves.  What does this one year old love?  Curious George.  Balloons.  Without being too attached to everything Curious George, we kept the essence through the balloons, colors and some Curious George/monkey-themed items strewn about.  

First, for the invitations, we got a Curious George invitation and door sign, which helped kick off the monkey-themed party.  

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Similar to the one at my surprise birthday, I wanted to have a photo booth for kids to take pictures.  The photo booth was a hit.  Kids, families and parents really got into it.  The only person that didn’t?  The birthday boy.  He couldn’t sit or stand still to take a picture in front of anything.

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My sister, the Pinterest fiend, made a multi-colored balloon garland and decorated corners of the house with bunches of balloons.  This picture doesn’t do it justice.

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One of the main reasons I wanted to post this party is because of all the fun I had planning and putting everything into action.  And, with the menu I had, I had little to no work during the actual party.  I really despise having to be running around finalizing anything after guests arrive.  My house was prepped and ready to go on time.

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As the party was held from 2-5, I didn’t plan a big meal but offered heavy appetizers and desserts.

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We had more than enough variety and just the perfect amount of food but still have a little left over for later grazers – mostly me and my sister.

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Almost everything I made (except the grilled cheese) was make ahead. So, the day of, I was really just warming or baking, which is a much better project than cooking.  The grilled cheese came together in the last 10 minutes.  I will definitely make it again and I’ll show you the method to make grilled cheese for a party.  It’s a game changer.

The day before, I made a smash cake and didn’t focus too much on making it perfect as I fully expected my rambunctious kid to destroy it.  Well, turns out he had no interest in smashing it and preferred to eat it a bite at a time with a spoon!  If he would only do that with soup or any other meal.

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So, because he was so careful with the smash cake, we served it up with the cupcakes.  All of it – gone.  Made me so happy.

Finally, for favors, I wanted a food gift that was quick and easy to make.  Look no further than caramel corn, friends.  I don’t know why I was intimidated at all about trying it.  It was so easy, and a little effort makes a whole bunch of popcorn that really disappear quite fast.  (Recipe coming soon!)  Favors were stacked in Curious George containers to keep the theme of the party even as guests departed.

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If you’ve made it this far in the post, I appreciate you and wanted to share this special day with you.  All in all, I couldn’t have asked for a better day with family, friends, and a little boy who eats his smash cake with a spoon.  My outfit was eternally grateful for that, kid.

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Filed under Appetizers, Birthdays, Cake, Cupcake, Favorites, Life, Side Dish, Snacks, Soup

Roasted Chickpeas

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Combining a dedication to eating well while having game-watching get-togethers can be challenging.  Game-day snacks don’t necessarily have to be a diet-wrecker.  For instance, this snack has been an instant favorite in my house.  Not only have I been eating it by itself, I throw it in salads for added nutrition with a wonderful crunch.

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I have experimented with this recipe for a while and for crunchier chickpeas, it’s important to roast the chickpeas without coating in oil.  Call me crazy, but the oil seals in the moisture.  As such, first roast and then coat.  The spices really can vary based on what you want – savory or sweet.  I can’t wait to try a cinnamon sugar twist on this snack favorite.

Roasted Chickpeas

adapted from Steamy Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 1 (15 oz) can of chickpeas
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder (not the same as cayenne pepper)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Drain the chickpeas in a colander and rinse with cold water.  Dry in between paper towels.  Using a paper towel, to press on and soak up the water and loosen the skin from the chickpeas.  Discard the skins.
  3. Roast the chickpeas for 30 minutes, until crispy.  Stir every 10 minutes.
  4. While baking, whisk together the olive oil, paprika, salt, cumin, black pepper, garlic powder, and chili powder until fully incorporated.  Remove from the oven and pour into the bowl and stir to coat.

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Filed under Appetizers, baking, Snacks, Vegan

Panjiri

Traditionally in India, after a woman gives birth, the nursing mother is given panjiri.  While seemingly healthy as it is chock full of dried fruit and nuts, more notable is the fact that panjiri is laden with ghee/butter and sugar.  Yet, new grandmothers will tout that this is the greatest snack for new and nursing moms.  I’m somewhat at a loss of how all the butter/ghee and sugar could be healthy.  Moreover, it’s supposed to increase the milk supply.  Again, don’t ask me how.

This dish will take quite some time to make.  It is absolutely a labor of love.  Similar to dulce de leche or caramelizing onions, roasting the nuts, fruits and semolina/suji will take some time.  But, I promise you that the end result is absolutely worth the wait.

I cannot attest to whether my milk supply was increased or aided, I can promise you it is delicious.  You can pretty much customize the ingredients to what you have on hand.  Clockwise from top: (1) golden raisins, (2) unsweetened grated coconut, (3) pistachios, (4) walnut, (5) dried apricot, (6) almonds, (7) cashew, and (8) flax-seed meal (center).

And, traditionally, you will see that panjiri contains many different spices and edible gum crystals.  I don’t prefer to have this dish overly spiced and have made it using ingredients that I’m likely to have on hand.

When you make this dish, ignore the health conscious part of your brain that wants to reduce the butter/ghee.  Just add it.  Throw it in and never look back.  You will not regret it.  And you may notice, I keep saying butter/ghee.  I highly recommend ghee, but I also like to cut the full-flavor of the ghee with some butter.  If you end up using all butter, you’ll miss the depth of flavor that ghee offers, but still have a product reminiscent of a sugar cookie – no joke.

If you are interested, as a nursing mother, to increase milk supply, I highly recommend keeping the fennel.  If you don’t have fennel or don’t like it, leave it out altogether.  

Panjiri

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup ghee, divided
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, divided (if you want to just use ghee – just replace it all with ghee)
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds (optional)
  • 1 cup mixed nuts
  • 1/2 cup mixed dried fruit
  • 1/4 cup flax-seed meal (optional)
  • 2 cups semolina (suji – coarse)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup white sugar

Directions:

  1. In a large pan, heat 1/4 cup ghee and 1/4 cup butter over medium heat until melted, but not burned.  Add in fennel seeds and cook for a minute just to heat up.  Add in mixed nuts, dried fruit, and flax-seed meal and roast until toasted and the smell of the nuts come through, approximately 10 minutes.  Just make sure to stir occasionally so it doesn’t burn.  Once roasted, remove the mixture from the pan.
  2. In the same emptied pan (be careful not to leave left over pieces), heat the remaining ghee and butter until melted over medium-low heat.  Add the semolina and roast until roasted into a light brown and resembles wet sand.  This is going to take a while – approximately 30-40 minutes.  Do not be tempted to raise the temperature.
  3. Add salt, cardamom, and ginger, and stir to combine and blend.  Cook for another 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat, add sugar and mix until fully incorporated and blended.
  4. Let cool and then serve.  Store in an airtight container.

 

 

 

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Filed under Breakfast, Indian, Snacks, Vegetarian