Saturday, April 24, 2010

Happy 2nd Birthday to my little princess!

I can't believe my daughter is now 2. It seemed like only yesterday, I was feeling her kicks while she was still in utero. She's grown so fast. But it was such a fun 2 years watching her grow, learn, and become the little person she is now.

For her birthday this year, I wanted to keep it simple and decided to have her party at an indoor playground. My definition of simple is not having to slave in my house, cleaning before and after the party. So doing it someplace other than my house is all I need. For food, I decided to order finger foods, so I wouldn't have to bring chafing dishes. Less mess. So this is what my spread looked like:

Of course, we had to have pizza for the kids. So I ordered a 36" cheese pizza for the kids and a slightly smaller 28" BBQ chicken pizza for the adults from our favorite pizza place, Big Mama's & Papa's. Everyone was impressed at how HUGE these pizzas were. But having a party at an indoor playground, I should've known that the kids wouldn't be able to eat all that pizza. The kids pretty much didn't eat and just played the whole time. The adult pizza, on the other hand, was all gone at the end.

I didn't want to just have pizza for her party. I'm known by hubby to completely overdo it when it comes to food. My way of thinking is 'its better to have a lot of food, than to run out of food.' Besides, if we have too much food, people can always take food home with them. So it never really goes to waste. Anyway, I ordered various other finger foods to eat.

As a tribute to hubby's family from Hawaii who came for the party, we ordered Spam and Chicken Musubi. Its one of my favorite Hawaiian foods. Luckily, we have a fast food Hawaiian restaurant we like to go to, L&L Hawaiian BBQ. Hubby's family, who came, now live in Las Vegas, but I'm sure they appreciate seeing something familiar from the islands.

Another type of finger foods I ordered were empanadas. As you may remember, I was in an Argentinian food kick last month, mainly because I was trying to find a place close to home to order some empanadas. But none of them really compared to my favorite empanadas from Johnny Pacific. Its located a little further from home, but it was totally worth it. And our guests really enjoyed them.

Of course, we also had some turkey sandwiches and Medianoche (or midnight) sandwiches from my favorite cuban bakery/deli, Porto's. The Medianoche sandwich is almost like their cuban sandwiches, but its not cooked on a sandwich press.

For dessert, I ordered the cheese rolls from Porto's and cupcakes from my favorite cupcake shop, Yummy cupcakes. I ordered their assorted mini cupcakes so our guests can have a taste of the many flavors they had to offer. Surprisingly, not everyone had a cupcake. I guess not everyone can share my love for good cupcakes.

And finally, no birthday is complete without the cake. Courtesy of dear brother, and also my daughter's Godfather. We always order our cakes from Hansen's. Their cakes are so yummy and they are always so creative when it comes to decorating their cakes. This cake was a marble cake with chocolate chip filling. yummy! And of course, daughter loves the Winnie the Pooh decorations, which happens to be the theme of her party.

I hope my daughter enjoyed her party as much I enjoyed planning for her. I love you baby!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Spinach Dip

Tomorrow's my daughter's 2nd birthday. I can't believe she's 2 now. I can still remember every moment at the hospital when I gave birth to her. Last year, we went all out for her 1st birthday party. Pinatas, baloons, pony and all. I decided to make it smaller this year and have it at an indoor playground just to have the kids over. For food, I decided on quick things to eat. I didn't want to slave over the stove, so we ordered pretty much everything from some of our favorite places. I also wanted to make my Banana Squares and this Spinach dip to munch on chips with.

I learned this recipe from my cousin, ate Jhune, who made this for my college graduation party over 11 years ago. I've made this dip often and came to realize that this recipe can also be found on the back of the packaging of the Knorr spring vegetable soup mix packet. lol! Nevertheless, its a recipe that definitely shouldn't be passed up. A food processor will be very useful for this recipe. You can serve this as is or to put a special touch, serve in a sourdough bread bowl.

10 oz package of spinach, finely chopped
3 stalks green onions, finely chopped
8 oz can whole water chestnuts, finely chopped
1 package of Knorr Spring Vegetable soup mix
16 oz sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise

1) Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix until well blended. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. Serve with tortilla chips, vegetable sticks, or crusty bread.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

viva Argentina!

I first introduced my siblings to Argentinian cuisine years ago. We would sometimes order in on a Friday night from an Argentinian restaurant that was a few miles away from my parents house, when I used to live with them. Now that I've married and moved out, its been a while since I've brought Argentinian food for my siblings. So today, I asked them if they wanted to try a restaurant closer to my house. Mom and dad decided to join us for dinner.

We were served with the usual, yummy Chimichurri sauce with crusty bread. My fave!

We also each ordered Beef or Chicken empanadas that were so huge that 2 people can share one. I wasn't able to take a photograph of them because we devoured them pretty quicky. lol.

Then we each ordered a plate of our own. Hubby and I shared a plate of their Entrana Gaucha (grilled skirt steak). The portions they have are so huge, we had to share.

I also ordered a plate of their Gnocchi with Bolognese sauce for my daughter and I to also share.

My brother, dad and sister had their Milanesa. But my brother ordered his smothered, known as the Milanesa Napolitano. It looked so yummy, I wanted to take a picture of his plate.

The highlight of the dinner, I think, were the desserts. Looking at their menu, it seemed the theme of their desserts was Dulce de Leche. We all decided to share 2 desserts. The Copa Helado:

which had flan at the bottom, topped with some sort of chocolate cake, topped with Vanilla Ice Cream, topped with Dulce de Leche, topped with Chantilly cream.

We also shared the Panqueques Argentinos:

which were crepes filled with dulce de leche, topped with chocolate and vanilla ice cream. So yummy.

I can honestly say, this restaurant will be one that we'll be visiting often with my family. Next time, I'm gonna try their house Sangria.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Stuffed peppers

I'm on a roll......3 new recipes in one week! I guess this makes up for not posting last week.

Anyway, I've always wanted to make stuffed bell peppers. I was sifting through my crockpot cookbook and found this one and it looked delicious and easy. So I wanted to give it a try.

This dish was quite tasty and really easy. I thought it would dry out, but it was quite moist. I used ground turkey for this recipe, but you can use any type of ground meat you like. I would probably add a little salt and pepper to the meat mixture for more flavor next time. But other than that, it was still delicious. The original recipe indicates that this serves 4, which means each person gets 2 halves. No way! I'd say this would easily feed more like 6-8 people, depending on how big of an appetite you have. I was able to eat one half of the bell pepper and I was already stuffed.

4 green bell peppers (cored, seeded and cut in half lengthwise)
1 lb. ground turkey or beef
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 package Spanish rice mix
10 oz can condensed tomato soup
28 oz can whole tomatoes

1) Combine ground meat, celery, onion and rice (without the seasoning) until well blended. Divide meat mixture among the bell pepper halves.

2) Pour whole tomatoes and its juices on bottom of crockpot. Arrange prepared bell peppers on top of tomatoes.

3) Combine seasoning for Spanish rice mix and tomato soup until well blended. Pour over bell peppers. Cook on low for 8-10 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Banana Split pie

I don't know where the original recipe comes from, but I learned of this recipe from my aunt Susan who often made this when we were kids. I never really knew the recipe, but I played around with it and eventually perfected it. I can honestly say that this dessert won hubby over. Its his favorite and often asks me to make this for potlucks. Making this makes me nostalgic of my childhood days when we used to have a lot of family gatherings.

The original recipe didn't call for a chocolate topping. But at the request one day of my nephew, Ivan, I started putting a chocolate topping on it. What's a banana split without a chocolate topping, right? Chocolate definitely makes everything even better. This recipe is super simple. It calls for baking the graham cracker crust from scratch, but you can definitely use the ready-made graham crust in the pie tin to make it even more easier.

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup sugar
5 Tbsp. butter, melted
8 oz bar of cream cheese, softened
2 ripe bananas, sliced
8 oz can crushed pineapple, drained
8 0z tub whipped topping
chopped walnuts for topping (optional)
chocolate shell topping for drizzling

1) For the crust: Preheat oven to 350 deg. F. Combine graham cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup sugar and butter and mix until well blended. Set aside a quarter cup of the mixture and place on a baking sheet. Press the remaining crumbs on a 11 x 2 inch pan (or any rectangular pan smaller than a 13 x 9 inch pan). Bake both pans for 10 minutes and cool completely.

2) Beat together cream cheese and remaining 1/4 cup sugar (note: it will be easier to spread mixture if cream cheese is very soft, almost melted). Spread over prepared crust. Cool for a few minutes if cream cheese is warm.

3) Arrange slices of bananas on top of cream cheese mixture. Evenly spread crushed pineapples on top of bananas. Spread whipped topping.

4) Top with prepared graham cracker crumbs and walnuts (if using). Drizzle chocolate and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Turkey & Macaroni

I haven't cooked a thing for a week. We've been eating out for a week since hubby's spring break. Now that he's back in school again, I have to go back to my make-ahead/crockpot meals to get us through the day. But first, I had to run to the store to buy groceries for my empty fridge. Then after having lunch with the best friend for her birthday, I headed home with a plan of cooking something quick with my crockpot.

I bought a lot of ground turkey over the weekend, so I searched my crockpot cookbook for something to make for dinner and found this recipe. Making this was reminiscent of a burger. It smelled exactly like it. In fact, hubby and I actually said it tasted like the hamburger helper I used to make back in the day. lol. The pasta doesn't turn out as al dente as I'd like it to be. But the flavor is delicious.

1 tsp. vegetable oil
1 lb. ground turkey
2 cans (10.75 oz each) condensed tomato soup, undiluted
2 cups uncooked macaroni
16 oz can whole corn kernels, drained
1/2 cup chopped onions
4 oz can sliced mushroom, drained
2 Tbsp. ketchup
1 Tbsp. mustard
salt & pepper to taste

1) Heat oil in a skillet. Cook turkey until browned. Transfer cooked turkey to the slow cooker.

2) Add soup, macaroni, corn, onion, mushrooms, ketchup, mustard, salt and pepper to slow cooker. Stir to blend

3) Cover and cook on low for 7-9 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours.