Monthly Archives

November 2010

7. Throw Harry a Rad 5-Year-Old Birthday Party

November 30, 2010

As someone who sometimes throws parties for a living, I’ve found that I can insert my own ideas into what kind of party Harry wants. I’ve also discovered most ways to make anything 180 times more difficult than it needs to be. This is somewhat fine when you have an only child, who is turning an age between 0 and 4, but I figured 5-and-beyond was a whole new ball game. So I was resolved to take a back seat, and take some orders from the birthday boy. I told him he could have any kind of birthday he wanted.

He said he wanted a Tiger Woods party.

Right. Okay. I said anything. So. I figured we’d just order up some hookers and blow and call it a day.

I kid. After a few questions, I realized he thought Tiger Woods was a character on Wii, like Mario or Kirby or Zelda. After I explained that he was actually a real person (I think I said he was an actual real boring grownup who mainly talked about politics and taxes), Harry was less into him. He was still set on golf though. He wanted golf, and a trophy, and a lot of balloons.Completely fine. Done. (The invites are here)

. There’s a great putt-putt golf course in Austin that has been around since the 40s.

Perfect. In fact, my mother used to go to birthday parties here. So did my brother and I. It’s been set up for this kind of thing for years. (Easy. Awesome.)

It’s no surprise that the kids had a great time.

They took over the course, and in complete Montessori fashion sorta played in whatever order suited them. Hole 1, followed by hole 7, then over to hole 12, back to hole 4, and then on and on. They looked like little ants roaming around to do random tasks, tasks like hitting a ball through a pig’s castle.

Then they had pizza from Home Slice.

And then came the sugar. Sugar is like the Olympics to the Montessori kid. It only happens every so often, and they usually only see it on TV.

Ha! I kid. Who owns a TV? Not us! No way. Total waste of time.

(We totally own a TV.)

(Also, we serve children sugar. Lots of sugary sugar.)

Then my dad started telling the sugared-up children stories about the olden days when you could bring peanut butter to school. This is when everyone started to grab their kids and head home. Good timing. I always suggest strategically placing a grandfather to get a party wrapped up. It works, y’all.

All in all, it was the easiest party I’ve ever done for him. It involved three phone calls, a balloon pick up, and setup on ready picnic tables. In the end, the place was low-key ready, the golf was plentiful, and the pizza was delivered.

And it was exactly how Harry wanted it.

Fore! Harry is Turning Five!

November 30, 2010

A few months ago, Harry turned five. And after much debate, he decided to have a golf party (there’s more about that process here). Soon after, I discovered there were no ready-to-go children’s golf party invitations to be found. For the record, there are dozens of choices involving soccer, baseball, football, and basketball…but no golf. Weird.

So, we made them.

The construction was easy (remember, I have no actual skills on any program beyond Word or Excel) and only involved one trip to Hobby Lobby.I purchased a pack of craft dowel rods, some pre-cut craft paper, and double stick tape. That’s it.

I printed out the invites I created in Word with the help of Helvetica and a clip art golf ball. And I taped it all up. Done.

We cleaned out a baked beans can, and Harry took his invites to school.

He was thrilled.

A Work In Progress.

November 29, 2010

The bathroom is still under construction and in the process of becoming something better. However, as it is still in-the-works, it is a bit of a mess. I can relate to my bathroom.

Go-To Recipe #6: Enchiladas. (Adapted for the After-Thanksgiving Turkey Leftover Crowd)

November 29, 2010

Turkey Enchiladas con Corn

2 cups shredded turkey (or chicken, or beef, or shrimp)

1 cup corn

1 ½ cups grated cheese (your choice)

salt and pepper

8 flour tortillas

1 cup enchilada sauce (Recipe below)

¼ cup chopped cilantro

Heat oven to 400° F. In a large bowl, combine the turkey, corn, 1 cup of the cheese, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Spoon the mixture onto the tortillas and roll. Place seam-side down in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Top with the sauce (below) and remaining ½ cup of cheese. Bake 15 to 20 minutes. Sprinkle with the cilantro and serve.


Enchilada Sauce of The Awesome

3 Tbs Tex-Mex Spice (Easy Recipe Here, under Taco Seasoning)

1 Tbs olive oil

2 Tbs chili powder

3 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce

1 Tbs creamy peanut butter

4 Tbs cornstarch

½ cup water

Saute Tex-Mex spice in oil, approximately 2 minutes. Add chili powder and stir for 1 minute. Add chicken broth, tomato sauce and peanut butter (Yes!). Bring to a simmer. Mix cornstarch and water in a small bowl, then drizzle this mixture into the sauce . Cook for 5-10 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally.  This makes a quart of sauce.  I freeze what I don’t use (I recommend the ice cube trick here too).

Ace Bathroom Re-do

November 23, 2010

Remember I said I wanted to live in the NYC Ace Hotel bathroom? Well, we’re moving that bathroom into our house this weekend. Because nothing says “Thanksgiving” like tearing the walls apart. Right?

So far we’ve done this.

And this.

And this.

Awesome, right?

I’ll keep you posted on the progress.

The Padrino Feast

November 23, 2010

Harry’s Godfather Ken (The Padrino) and I have been friends since first-grade reading group, where he regularly played Han Solo to my Princess Leia.

These days, the former six-year-old Rebel Alliance Member spends most of his time in Washington D.C., but last night, he was at our house. So we decided to cook everything in our field of vision…our primary target being these five loaves-and-fishes-esqe sweet potatoes that just wouldn’t quit.True story. I bought five gourds for $5 this weekend, and yesterday we made 18 meals out of them. I’m not saying these were well-balanced meals of green leafy goodness, but everything tasted really, really swell. Here’s what we did.

The Padrino Feast

Soup: Pumpkin, Barley, and Sage Soup (Recipe from October Better Homes and Gardens and Here)

Salad: Citrus-Walnut Salad (Adapted from a Recipe in November Southern Living. And here it is!)

Starter: Ancho Chilies Stuffed with Sweet Potatoes, Pecans and Garlic (Recipe here)

Main: Pork Tenderloin with Pumpkin Seed Sauce (Recipe here)

Side: Chipotle Smashed Sweet Potatoes (Recipe from November Southern Living and Here)

Side: Butternut Squash and Blue Cheese Risotto (Recipe here)

Dessert: Sweet Potato Pie with Marshmallow Meringue (Recipe adapted from November Southern Living and Here)

And now, I will go walk five miles. And I plan to be thankful for each step.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Dessert: Sweet Potato Pie with Marshmallow Meringue

November 23, 2010

Sweet Potato Pie with Marshmallow Meringue


1/2 package refrigerated pie crust (in a roll)

1 egg yolk, beaten

1 Tbsp. whipping cream

Sweet Potato Pie Filling:

1/2 cup butter melted

1 cup sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

3 large eggs

3 cups lightly packed, cooked, mashed sweet potatoes

1 cup half-and-half

3 Tbsp. lemon juice

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

Meringue Topping:

3 egg whites

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/8 tsp. salt

1/4 cup sugar

1 (7 oz) jar marshmallow creme

Prepare crust. Preheat over to 425. Roll piecrust into a 13-inch circle. Fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Crimp edges. Prick bottom and sides with a fork. Bake 9 minutes. Whisk together egg yolk and cream, brush bottom and sides of crust with yolk mixture. Bake 6-8 more minutes. Let cool. Reduce oven temp to 350. Prepare filling: Stir together melted butter, 1 cup sugar, and next 2 ingredients. Add sweet potatoes and next 4 ingredients. Pour blended mixture into piecrust. Bake at 350 for 55 minutes. Transfer pie to rack and cool completely. Prepare meringue: Beat egg whites and next 2 ingredients at high speed until foamy. Gradually add sugar, 1 Tbsp at a time. Beat 1/4 marshmallow creme into egg white mixture. Repeat 3 times with remaining marshmallow creme, beating until smooth. Spread over pie. Bake at 400 for 6-7 minutes or until meringue is lightly browned.

This is a bit complicated to make, if only in its amount of steps. But oooooh boy, is it worth it.


*Recipe adapted from November Southern Living

Side: Butternut Squash and Blue Cheese Risotto

November 23, 2010
Butternut Squash and Blue Cheese Risotto
1 large butternut squash. Baked and cubed.
3-5 fresh thyme springs
7 cups low-salt chicken broth
1 large finely chopped onion
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3/4 tsp. smoked paprika
1 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. champagne (or white wine)
2 cups arborio rice
2/3 cup pine nuts
6 fresh sage leaves, chopped
5 oz. blue cheese, crumbled

Preheat over to 350. Place squash, cut side up, in a pan. Place 1 Tbsp. of butter in each (clean, scooped, de-seeded) squash half. Sprinkle with salt and top with thyme springs. Bake 30-40 minutes. Slice squash in cubes, set aside. Bring 7 cups broth to boil in large saucepan. Cover and reduce heat to low. In another pot (that can accommodate everything later), cook onion in olive oil and add the paprika. Stir butter and squash cubes into the onion mixture in the pan. Add the champagne. Add the rice. Add the hot broth a cup at a time; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until rice is just tender and risotto is creamy and slightly soupy, adding more broth by 1/4 cupfuls as needed to maintain consistency and stirring occasionally, about 18 minutes. Stir in sage leaves. Sprinkle the top with the blue cheese and pine nuts right before serving.