Tuesday, October 28, 2014

It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown Theme Night



So I thought with 3 kids in school life would be less busy but that seems to be the exact opposite right now.  I acuually have a few half written posts I need to do but have not found the time..... soon they will be here :)

But here is our October's Family Theme Night!!!  I first planned this to be a little friend party but it didn't work out, although next month I plan to do a little friend party for my kids!

Being October it was only fitting to have It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown Theme Night, it is one of our favorite Halloween shows and the kids loved it.  We started the night out at our local pumpkin patch of course.  The kids played and had a great time picking out their perfect pumpkin.

When we came home we made these pumpkin patch cookies and ghosts because that is what all the characters dressed up as in the movie.  

I love Pinterest for inspiration and I found these ghosts here and let the kids decorate them however they wanted.  I didn't like pouring the white chocolate over the top because it just puddled at the bottom and didn't really cover the top  (the bottom 2 in the picture) and so for the rest I just dipped the cut twinkie into the chocolate and it covered them perfectly to look like little ghosts! 


For the pumpkin patch I found this fun recipe here  but I just used regular graham crackers and some green frosting (pretty much just things I had on hand and didn't need to run to the store ) And the kids when to town on them... you see some patches were more productive than others :) 




We then had our dinner which was chili and corn bread with some fritos on top, because honestly they make chili better!  This meal was pretty much out of convenience but it worked perfectly for the night.  It was something I had in our pantry that I needed to use but also it was easy to just  have it cooking in my crockpot while we were at the pumpkin patch and it was orange which I loved!!  We then had some cuties because they look like mini pumpkins and I didn't post it but we had some orange Tampico Punch for our drink, again going with the orange theme! 



And we ended the night eating our ghosts and pumpkin patches 


And of course watching It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown





It was a fantastic night and I know a great memory for my kids!!


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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Swiss Family Robinson Theme Night


As you all know I love Theme night and this is one we did over the summer and finally I was able to post it.  I had a few hiccups with the outdoor kitchen I wanted to fix before posting it.  We wanted to introduce our kids to the Swiss Family Robinson movie and a Theme Night was a perfect way to do it!


For the food I thought of things they would have on a desert island and coconut was the first thing to come to my mind.  We had this yummy Coconut Rice, my husband made a Coconut Chicken in the dutch oven (check out his recipe it was DELICIOUS!) and then just a tropical fruit salad with pineapple, mandarin oranges and kiwi-- super simple and a little fun!  

I bought these fun coconut cups at the dollar store and used this Orange Julius recipe but swapped the orange juice concentrate for an Apple/Mango/Passion-fruit concentrate.  I always use less sugar than the recipe calls for and it was yummy!


We ate dinner outside of course because that is how the Robinson Family would do it!

Now on to the fun things we made

We made a teepee and an outdoor kitchen.  I know they didn't have a teepee but it was the easiest thing I could make that was an outdoor home and my kids love it and it was so simple and didn't cost me anything!

The kids helped me find the sticks when we went on walks by the creek near our house, which makes it even more special that they helped.  I put the 3 sticks together and tied them together at the top.  The longer stick is in the middle and it is the one that goes to the back of the teepee.  I have it long so we can adjust the teepees size.

I had 2 spare sheets that I put together and cut little holes at the top, middle and bottom on one side and tied it to the longest branch (the back of the teepee)  I didn't sew anything just tied it with some rope and the rest just drape over the other 2 branches.  The sheets are big enough that you can enclose the whole teepee if they want of just have them over the side 2 branches.  (I really hope this all makes sense, please ask if you have any questions :) )


And they LOVE it!!  We can easily move it around the yard or fold it up and put it away when we are not using it.



Here is our outdoor kitchen.  It is so simple and I made it with some scrap wood in our garage.  At first I was going to cut out part of the top and place a small plastic tub in it for a sink but they really like using it to prepare their 'food' so we just painted it like a cutting board.    Now I could have painted to all cute and perfect but instead I had my kids do it because it is so much more fun when they go outside and see......


My daughter's sun and moon that she painted



My son's whale on the back



And the younger ones can see all the areas they helped with.   Kids involvement, not perfection makes for a great memory!  

I hope you enjoyed our Theme Night and if all goes right I will be having a new Theme Night every month!! 



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Monday, September 22, 2014

Easy Personalized Pizzas





We love Pizza at our house and make this homemade pizza often, but sometimes dinner is rushed and this is a quick and easy way to make everyone happy by making their own pizzas.  

 
The trick is using these Greek Pita Flat Breads.  We buy them at Costco for under $3 and use them so much.  They make great peanut butter and jelly rolled sandwiches, tacos, melted cheese and vegges sandwiches, we have even used them as hamburger buns.  Today they made perfect pizza crusts.



Just top them with pizza sauce or marinara sauce like we used today.  And then what every you want.  Today we just had pepperoni and cheese pizzas but my husband likes Italian seasoning on his and the kids don't so we were all happy.  Notice the little hand sneaking pepperoni.... I love having my kids help in the kitchen.



Now on to baking them.  If you want a super crispy crust bake it at 450° for 10 minutes.  My kids liked it softer and so cooked it for a few minutes to warm up and then turned on the boiler until the cheese was melted.

Hope you enjoy it and it can save dinner for you on a crazy night!!

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

My Favorite Spices


Like I have said before I do not like complicated recipes.  Some recipes call for 15 ingredients for a simple meal and first my pocket book and my memory cannot do all that.  I love recipes that are easy and I can remember them without having to look it up for quick dinners.   So when it comes to spices that do all the work in the meal I am sold!!!


This first one I bought for my husband's childhood favorite recipe of Spaghetti Salad but there are times I do not have all the ingredients for it.  So the other day we had left over pasta from dinner and I needed a quick lunch for myself and our 3 and 1 year old.  I heated up the pasta with a little butter and then added a tablespoon of this Salad Supreme seasoning.  It was delicious and my little ones loved it!


Now this next spice is one of my absolute favorites.  We bought it at Costco a while ago and one night we decided on stir fry for dinner and I realized I didn't have any sesame oil or soy sauce (which I usually put in my stir fry) but I had this.  Honestly all I did was cook some chicken, onions, vegetables in a little oil and then topped it with 1/4 cup of this sweet ginger garlic seasoning-- it was amazing!  It makes for a light stir fry that again was eaten by my whole family, and with 5 little kids that is a great accomplishment ;)


This last spice is great for cooking outside on the barbecue or indoors and still have that barbecue taste.  My husband made these delicious grilled chicken and vegetables by rubbing a little oil and seasoning on it.


Spices are wonderful addition to make a simple dish into something AMAZING!!  What are your favorite spices??  
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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Chocolate Cake


Today is my birthday and the best present I can give myself is a Nice Big Chocolate Cake!!  Honestly is there anything better??  My favorite candy bar is Reese's Peanut Butter cup and so I am using that as my inspiration.


I used a box cake mix because that is what I had on hand (most of the time I would make a homemade one like this

After I baked the cake I let it cool slightly and then placed both layers on a cookie sheet and froze them.  I have heard this makes sure the cake stays super moist.  

I made a peanut butter cookie dough using this recipe from Six Sisters' Stuff.  What I love about their recipe is how simple it is.  A lot that I saw online used cream cheese, tons of butter, sweetened condensed milk and honestly it was just too many ingredients and too expensive for me.  This recipe was perfect!!   After I made it I patted it into my 9 in cake pan and placed that into my freezer as well.  

After a few hours I put the layers together on my plastic cake stand with a lid and placed back in the freezer overnight.  (If you do not have a cake stand like this a large bowl with a lid turned upside works great)

In the morning I took the cake out of the freezer and let it come to room temperature.  I then frosted it with chocolate frosting.  

I took 6 peanut butter cups -chopped and 1 cup of peanut butter M&Ms and sprinkled them on top.  
Melt one large chocolate bar in the microwave and drizzle over it all.  

Trust me this is one delicious cake but have a large glass of milk on hand when you enjoy it!


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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Crockpot Chicken Enchilada Soup



This is my go to recipe when we need a quick dinner.  It has all the taste of enchilada without all the work.  I based this recipe off of my regular Chicken Enchiladas recipe.  You can serve this over rice, in a tortilla or chips like I did.

Crockpot Chicken Enchilada Soup
4 chicken breasts
2 cans cream of chicken soup -- or homemade which we always do
1 large can green enchilada sauce
16 oz carton of sour cream
1 medium onion diced
1 can black beans, drained
1 can corn, drained or 2 cups frozen corn

and then here are some options to add in:
peppers - I really like adding mini sweet peppers
small jar diced green chilies
tomatoes
olives
green onions
I have even added chopped up spinach

Mix the cream of chicken soup and enchilada sauce together and set aside
Put everything in the crockpot expect the sour cream.  Pour the soup and enchilada on top.  If it does not cover everything you can add a little water until it does.  Cook on low for 4 hours until the chicken is fully cooked.  Take chicken out and shred, add back to the crockpot and add the sour cream.  Cook 30 more minutes and then serve.  You can top it with cheese, additional sour cream, cilantro, olives etc.

My family loves this meal, even my kids which is saying a lot ;)  I hope you enjoy it!!


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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Easy Refrigerator Pickles


Tis' the season when home gardens are finally producing, sometimes more than you can easily consume.  So you start looking for ways to preserve it.  Well not my garden, it had a very hard year and we ended up ripping most of it out.... But we have some awesome neighbors that shared their bounty with us.  Refrigerator pickles are a thing you must try if you love pickles, and if you try them you may never go back to the store bought kind.  I remember my roommate in college brought some the first day of Sophomore year and they were amazing and I could not stop eating them.

Now back before there was Pinterst, blogs and Facebook where you have a million recipes at your fingers tips I used Allrecipe.com and Food.com for my cooking needs.  I would bookmark, save, copy and print, you name it I did it.  I could spend hours on those sights and honestly even though we have all the other places I still find myself going to them and I always come away with something new and delicious to try.  This is where I found this recipe and it was so easy and yummy and my kids loved helping make them!  I added some dill weed from our garden (something that actually lasted this year) and some garlic.

Mona's Easy Refrigerator Pickles

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

One of my Favorite Books for Family Fun

As you know I LOVE themed parties, dinners, days... pretty much anything that I can set to a theme and I love doing things for my kids.  Here is one of my favorite books that incorporates both of these.  She has super simple and easy, yet ridiculous fun activities and meals you can do with your family.  I think the title says it all that great kids are homemade and that is exactly what my husband and I are trying to do.  I have said it a million times fun with your family does not have to be expensive, it is the time, love and thought that is put into it.  My kids often talk about things we have done like our Chinese New Year dinner and say "when are we going to do that again!!"  That is what makes me happy and makes me want to continue doing this!!




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Monday, August 18, 2014

Godzilla Cake


My son wanted a Godzilla cake for his 8th birthday and this is what we did.  I bought these Godzilla cake toppers for $11 and what is great about them is after the cake he can play with them.  They are actually really well made and he can play with them for years.  I just made a double layer chocolate cake and crushed up some chocolate teddy grahams and put them on top.  And then just placed the Godzilla and building on it.  Super super simple and he loved it!!



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