Our Boys

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Summer Eats

In case there are any of you that are living under a rock, it's summer!!!!! And that means I am done with school and have stepped right back into my favorite role - being a mommy and a wife at home all day long! We are just now getting into a routine as we spend the first week in PA visiting with my family, seeing the Cubs get whooped by the Pirates, and saying goodbye to my brother Scotty. Scott is spending the next several week in Basic Training for the army just as Ben did last summer. I'm so proud of both of them.

Well, here's my domestic diva contribution to you...a summer salad recipe. On the way back from PA, we stopped at an Ohio Oasis for our one big stop - diaper change, walks for the pups and for O, potty breaks for us, and lunch. I really hate eating on the road because there never seems to be much variety. Well, this stop I was in luck because they happened to have a Panera (along with several other greasy joints). I hate spending $10 on lunch, but I decided that since it was a necessity and I would be eating it while crammed in the back seat with no leg room, I was getting something that I would at least enjoy. I settled on the Strawberry Poppy Seed Chicken Salad. Oh. My. It completely tasted of summer. I quickly opened the Notes on my phone and jotted down all the ingredients so I wouldn't forget all of that heavenly goodness packed into this salad and the very next week I set out to create my own. Brett and I had it for dinner and even he was in agreement that it was pretty tasty (and pretty healthy too).

My Own Version of Panera's Strawberry 

Poppy Seed Chicken Salad

The nuts - toasting is probably optional but I love toasted nuts on a salad and love to do them with a little sugar. Simply place in skillet on low-medium heat, sprinkle sugar and stir constantly. You must watch them because they will burn. continue sirring until the sugar seems to have disappeared (it's actually caramelized on the nuts).

The chicken - slice your boneless skinless breast into chunks or thin strips, however you like i for a salad. Place in Ziploc bag and cover with orange juice, a quirt or two of lemon and lime juice and a generous dump of pepper. Marinate for as long as you've got time. Cook until done.

The dressing - feel free to buy a store bought dressing, but this recipe is super simple.
1/4 cup olive oil
2 T. vinegar
2 T. sugar
1 T. poppy seeds
dash of salt and pepper
-Mix all ingredients together.

Start with a bed of washed and torn Romaine lettuce. Top with a handful of blueberries, a handful of thinly sliced strawberries and fresh pineapple, some mandarin oranges, a sprinkling of the nuts, chicken and dressing. Obviously, I'm not giving you amounts. This salad has a lot of fruit, so you could adjust accordingly. I do advise to thinly slice your strawberries and pineapple. The mixture of flavors is perfect and you wouldn't want one of those overpowering even just one bite.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Owen's1st Monkey Themed Birthday Party

We planned Owen's party for the day after his actual birthday, May 12. All week the weather did not look like it would be in our favor and my plans of our backyard being host to a beautiful spring party seemed lost. When we woke Saturday morning, it was pouring. The patio was soaked, the grass was wet...but, no need to worry. The boys all set to work setting up tents and planning out the garage for the food and a table or two. While it wasn't the beautiful sunny day I had hoped for, the party was perfect and a lot of work and love went into every last detail.

I absolutely loved the monkey theme as soon Brett and I settled on it. I didn't want to stick to sock monkeys, Julius or Curious George so we went with a little bit of everything and centered it on our blue and yellow colors. Things couldn't have turned out better.

I worked with an amazing seller on Etsy to create the PERFECT t shirt for Owen to wear on his big day (he wore it to the zoo also since I wanted to get more than one wear out of it). Missy from Tiger Chic Designs matched our colors perfectly, and designed the perfect party hat for the monkey to wear!

Other than that, we pretty much did everything ourselves. The favors included a few things from the Target dollar bin (Paul Frank key chains, notepads and pencils; monkey water squirters and masks), some things from Oriental Trading (beach balls with monkeys, monkey tattoos) and a package of animal crackers (not monkeys, but close). I got the treat bags from the clearance bin at Party City (they were Curious George and I got 12 for $1). Each bag was tied with blue curling ribbon and had a monkey that I made from construction paper templates and glued together with a thank you note from Owen on the back.

As for food, it could not have been more simple and perfect! We rented a hot dog steamer = AWESOME! Steamed hot dogs and buns and all the toppings for both a Chicago dog and a 'Shorty's with Everything" (Shorty's is a local hot dog shop in Washington, PA). My parents also brought a nacho cheese pump. I think the nachos were the biggest hit. In additional we had yummy pasta salad, a veggie tray and a great display of fruit skewers. On the tables were buckets full of blue and yellow candy (sixlets, gummy bananas, and blue raspberry rings) and well as blue and yellow chocolate covered pretzels that Brett and I hand dipped.

What I was most proud of was the cake and the cupcakes. I wanted cupcake toppers but didn't want the expense of ordering them, so I set out to make them. They turned out to be slightly time consuming trying to figure out the best way to do it, but after I figured it all out, they were very easy. They looked adorable atop yellow cupcakes in blue and white striped papers.

The cake was in the shape of a monkey! I found the design on Parenting.com and it turned out to be so much easier than I thought. I made it Friday night and took so much time to make sure it was perfect. Everyone commented how cute it was and I was feeling pretty proud. When it came time to sing, I carried it to Owen's seat and as I fixed the tray on his highchair, I bumped the cake and it fell to the ground!!!! Cool, calm and collected, I pieced it back together and 30 seconds later Owen dove into it.

Because of the weather, we didn't have much in the way of decorations. I originally planned to hang tissue paper pom poms around the yard, but when the threat of rain appeared in the forecast, I decided it wasn't worth the time. Basically the colors from the table cloths, other things I have already mentioned served as the decorations. We also had a 5 foot inflatable monkey gracing us with his presence.

Honestly, the day could not have been better! Owen was blessed with a birthday party full of lots of friends and family that mean a lot to him and to Brett and I. That was my one simple goal. Our family truly is blessed and it really showed on this special day.

Happy Birthday to our baby boy!!!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...