We've been eating a lot of hotdogs and hamburgers this summer. It goes with summer, right? I enjoy it, in small doses, but the doses have been getting a little heavy handed this year.
Enter planning for my kids' birthday party (they were born six days apart, two years apart, so this year I decided to host one party for both of them while they're still at an age where they don't care). I didn't want to do the obvious and serve hot dogs or hamburgers. In fact, I didn't even feel the need to fire up the grill. We would eat outside, but I'd opt for fun finger foods that would fit the realities and informality of a toddlers' birthday. No one can get the kids to sit down and eat, so why not just set out stuff they can grab when they're so inclined?
So the menu went something like this:
Fruit plates (watermelon, peaches and grapes)
Vegetables and fresh herb dip (I will soon write some more about my love affair with herbs)
Tortilla cheese rolls (mix 1/2 c. each sour cream, shredded cheddar and cream cheese, add your choice of flavours (I used red bell pepper, an green olive and caper mix and black olives), mix well and spread onto tortillas. Roll up the tortillas, refrigerate overnight, then slice into 1" slices and serve)
Parmesan puffs with marinara for dipping (these were supposed to be like little gougeres, but they didn't puff properly. I won't pass on the recipe until I figure out what went wrong...but they still tasted good)
Devilled eggs with radish leaf pesto
Sweet and sour meatballs in a apricot/hoisin glaze (just make your favourite meatball recipe, bake off the meatballs, and stir together 1/2 c. apricot preserves and 1/4 c. each hoisin sauce and rice vinegar. Throw in some sweet red pepper and the meatballs, stir, heat and serve.)
And the piece de resistance: an Iron Man Cake and Incredible Hulk Cupcakes, frosted with Swiss meringue buttercream frosting, a la Martha Stewart (my hubbie, upon eating his third piece of cake, announced, "I never have to eat any other kind of icing again, ever." Buttercream is the way to go.
I tried to go the natural food colouring route, but gave up on the red and blue. They just didn't do what I needed them to do. Even the Nutty Club stuff will only turn icing pink, rather than red. D laughed when he saw the cake, "Iron Man is pink!" I explained that it's hard to get a true red using the food colouring I have, and he added, "It's okay, Mom. The yellow is perfect."
I may have to give in and go for some of the gel paste food colouring next year. I figure, heck, my kids eat healthy 99% of the time. Is it really so terrible if we ingest food colouring once a year if it means the cake looks AWESOME?
We spent Sunday recovering from the party, and sorting through toys to make room for the new ones. Next cooking project: bringing food gifts to my brother and sister-in-law and their new baby.