Thursday, October 30, 2014

Pumpkin Patch Birthday Party

My little baby isn't so little anymore.  He turned two this past week.  I am amazed on a daily basis how much he can do.  Just today he helped my push my cart through the store and put items in the basket (some we needed some we didn't).  He's in the big boy class at church now which means he gets to participate in the Christmas program.  They practiced for the first time tonight and I watched with tears in my eyes.  It was an incredible moment as a mom.

For his birthday this year, I wanted to do something outside of the box.  I realize a pumpkin patch in the middle of October isn't too out of the ordinary, however, you don't often see them as birthday parties for a two year old.  This party was a lot more simple to plan than you might think.  What made the party extra special were the details (it's ALWAYS in the details!)  Thanks to the Dollar Tree, Hobby Lobby and Target I was able to pull this off without breaking the bank.

Let's start with the invite.  Formal invites aren't sent out now a days for parties.  We use social media to create and invite people to events.  It makes it easy and convenient but I love designing my own invites!  So I decided to design them and text the image to our guests.  It's a win win to me!

I knew I wanted to have labels set up at each area. You know, just in case someone confuses the gift table with the food.  You never know.   I had envisioned little chalkboard prints everywhere but I didn't want to design them and use valuable resources (time and money) to get them printed.  So this genius idea just came out of nowhere!  I wrapped the glass of the frames in butcher paper (thank you Dollar Tree) and wrote on them with a chalkboard marker (Wal-Mart).  Didn't they turn out great?!  You can't see me but I'm patting myself on the back.  This was a really good idea and one that will be repeated in the near future!

For the chili bar, I had two crockpots of turkey chili and one of quinoa sweet potato and black bean chili (one of my favs).  We had corn bread, gluten free cornbread, sour cream, avocado, lime, cheese and Fritos.  I browned the meat and onions the night before and a few hours before the party started, I threw the rest of the ingredients (beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce and seasonings) into the crockpot. We invited our friends from My Plant Based Family to come so I made sure we had gluten free and vegetarian options available. 

Let's move onto to the apothecary jars.  Great idea for a party of little boys who just want to eat the candy.  Don't they know it's only for decoration?  (We aren't fans of candy corn in our house, I'm sorry.  Don't be mad.)  I bought 4 bags of candy (1 Taffy, 2 Pumpkins and 1 Indian Corn) and filled the jars which I already had.  They are really thin glass so I don't use them for serving, just to decorate with.  Thankfully, they survived the party.

Orange.  Orange everywhere!  It's moving up the scale on my list of favorite fall colors.  I bought the utensils at Wal-mart for .97 per pack.   

I covered the drink and paint tables with butcher paper and wrote on them with chalkboard marker.  They turned out so cute! There were 5 little boys at the party ranging in ages 2-5.  Each of the boys had their own pumpkin to paint.  I wrote each of their names on the table to set their pumpkin when they were finished painting. 

The polka dot pendent is from Target for $3.00.  I thought it was PERFECT.  It even matched the invitations (which everyone noticed.  Okay not really, but I did).

  Pumpkin confetti, very necessary and also from Target.

I used white paper plates as their "painting plate".  I had most of the paint but bought a few more bottles at Wal-Mart for .50. How can you go wrong?!  The paint brushes came from the Dollar Tree, however Wal-Mart had a really big bag of brushes for .97 that I should have bought instead.  Good to know for next time.

HAY BALES!  Yes.  I was so fortunate to get these for FREE!  Our church had their annual Trunk or Treat and I was able to use the hay bales after the event.  Otherwise they would have been about $7 a piece.

They made great benches for the kids!  I covered them with orange table cloths (.97 at Wal-Mart) to keep the boys from getting too itchy.

Painting pumpkins was a huge hit!  All of the boys had a great time.  It makes a great party favor for them to take home!

Last year I sent home mini pumpkins and stickers for the kid's to decorate at home.  But seeing them all paint together was priceless!

The birthday boy's pumpkin.  Be still my beating heart.  I can't believe he's TWO!

And finally, what's a pumpkin patch birthday party without pumpkin cupcakes?  I used this recipe for the cupcakes.  I changed the icing slightly by adding mapeline to make a maple cinnamon frosting.  

The pumpkin picks are from Hobby Lobby and the sprinkles are from Target.  

He approved!  And so did we!  It was one of the best nights we have had in a long time!

Happy Birthday bubbers!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Probably the Best Roasted Hatch Chile Pork You'll Ever Eat in Your Life

I think roasted chilies are probably one of my favorite foods.  They are so packed full of flavor that leave you wanting more!  These particular chilies are not incredibly hot.  While they do give off some heat, they don't set your mouth on fire.  We have a local grocery store chain that roasts chilies every day.  My sister thoughtfully brought me a bag of chilies and I knew exactly what I was going to do with them:  make hatch chili sauce and pour it over pork tenderloin.  And that is just what I did.   I have two words for you: NAILED IT.


2 pounds pork tenderloin (I used one package of tenderloins, they come with two in a pack and I used both)
4-5 roasted hatch chilies
1 box vegetable broth
1 small onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 t onion powder
1/2 t cumin
3 T olive oil
3 T flour


1.  Over medium heat, saute onion in olive oil until translucent.  Add garlic and chilies, cook for 1-2 minutes.
2.  Sprinkle flour over vegetables and stir.  Cook for 2-3 minutes.
3.  Slowly add the vegetable broth and let come to a simmer until liquid has thickened.  Add seasonings.
4.  In a crockpot, place pork tenderloins side by side and sprinkle with sea salt.
5.  Pour 1 1/2 cups of chili sauce over tenderloins and cook on low for 6-7 hours.

Serving Suggestion: pork tacos, burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas, burrito bowls, on a hoagie (Mexican pork sandwich)

My sauce didn't thicken like I wanted it to and I haven't stopped to figure out why exactly maybe I didn't have enough fat and flour to liquid ratio, who knows!  The pork turned out so incredible juicy and flavorful that I didn't care!  We served ours on corn shells with lime, avocado, cilantro and of course sour cream and cheese.  The meat is the highlight of this dish so I didn't want to take away from it's flavor by adding salsa.  We kept the flavors light and fresh. 

You know that moment when you think you ruined a dish because you didn't set the timer on the crockpot?  Yeah, that happened.  Only I didn't ruin it, it was PERFECT!  After I ate 3 tacos I went back for more pork.  I'm telling you, it is so addicting. 

Can you be addicted to pork?  After making this, I think, yes, you can be.

Notice how my avocado is a little bit squished in the photo above?  I had a not so helpful but very cute toddler hanging around.  If only he would eat the avocado and not squish the avocado!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Marinated Beef Salad

Hello!  It's been so long since I've sat in this chair and wrote a blog post.  Life happens and I had to put the brakes on a few areas.  We just got back from visiting family in the Midwest.  I took SO many pictures I can't wait to share them with you!  But first, how about a family favorite recipe?

When we visited my parents last week, my mom had this recipe book sitting on the counter.  In it are her most favorite, delicious recipes.  So I of course snagged a few pictures of the recipes so I could come home and blog about them.

The recipe for Marinated Beef Salad came from my best friend's mom.  She was always making something yummy.  You can imagine how thrilled I was to find this recipe.  As soon as we got home from vacation, it was the first meal we ate, and the second, and maybe the third.  It's sooo good warm and makes great left overs as a cold salad.  How can you go wrong with delicious left overs?  I hate left overs.  But not of this.

Yes.  Beef.  Potatoes.  Onions and Romaine.  Trust me, it's so good!  The beef is marinaded in soy sauce and red wine vinegar and comes out salty, juicy and tangy.  Should I keep talking or do you want to see the recipe?



1/4 c olive oil
1/2 c red wine vinegar
1/4 soy sauce
2 pounds of sirloin steak

Combine ingredients and marinade meat for 2-24 hours.  Pan fry or cook on the grill until 140-150 degrees.  Let rest and slice into strips. (Check out this Meat and Poultry Temperature Guide from Foot Network).


3-4 large red potatoes
1/4 red onion, sliced
2 scallion, chopped
1 head of romaine, chopped

Dice and boil potatoes until fork tender.  Add to bowl with meat, red onion slices and chopped scallions. 


1/2 c red wine vinegar
1 T sugar
1 T garlic
1 c olive oil

Combine ingredients in a salad shaker or blender.  Toss potatoes, onions and meat with dressing.  Arrange romaine on a platter and top with meat and potatoes.  Add extra dressing if desired. 

This recipe took NO time at all to whip together!  It's the perfect week night dinner AND provides enough for left overs the next day.  Did I mention I hate leftovers?  Did I mention I love these leftovers?

I love the flavor that grilled meat adds to a dish!

My husband LOVED this salad and The Toddler really wanted to but he couldn't handle the tang of the dressing.  We were proud of him for trying!

Thank you Elaine for so many memories and for all the times you fed me this wonderful dish!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Toddler Snack Attack: Peanut Butter and Banana Waffle Sandwich


I'm not sure who this is for technically; me or The Toddler.  Peanut Butter and Banana is one of my favorite combinations but paired with warm waffle and chocolate chips and I'm in heaven.  It's like dessert, for snack or breakfast.  The peanut butter melts into the waffle and becomes this thick liquid that drips all over.  I love melted peanut butter. 

So the ingredients are pretty simple: peanut butter, banana slices, chocolate chips, honey and cinnamon.  And a toasted waffle, can't forget that.

I've said it once and I'll say it again, honey and cinnamon with peanut butter is an out of this world combination!  Trust me.  When you add the cinnamon and take a bite, the first words out of your mouth will be "where have you been all my life"?

Just look at that peanut butter!

Drippy, warm gooey peanut butter.

And here he comes.  I knew it wouldn't be long before he came to dig in.

Yup, he peeled back the top and went straight for the chocolate chips.  His momma didn't raise no fool.

Don't worry, I moved him to his high chair before he got too carried away!

Of course he isn't actually capable of eating it as an actual sandwich.  If you are starting to cringe, I'd cover your eyes.  It's about to get real messy up in here.

And of course, he felt the need to run his "peanut butter fingers" through his hair.

PEANUT BUTTER.  PEANUT BUTTER EVERYWHERE!  But that's why we have bath tubs, right?

I think that about sums it up.