Thursday, September 20, 2012

It's a party!

Planning a party for a one year old is fun.  Why?  Because they don't give a shit what theme you choose, what foods you serve or even who attends.  It is a celebration for the parents to show off their pride and joy and a time where we can let other people shower our little labor of love with more presents than we can logically fit into the cubic space provided in his room.  We get to invite OUR friends.  Not the pink princess drama-queen clan my daughter would insist she have over.  Our friends.  We eat, we do cake and presents and we serve cold beers.  Its a blast. 

I am a party fanatic.  Really.  It's a sick obsession I have.  I go all out.  My husband and I throw a few parties every year that only adults attend and up until this point I was lacking in the 'kid party' department.  While I threw decent parties, I was never good at coming up with the same ridiculously creative ideas I did for our adult Halloween party or our annual Luau.  I would buy cheap decor from the local party store and call it a day. 

That was my plan this time.  Jonah adores dogs.  A dog party it was.  Except I had nothing but 2 plastic dogs I planned on adorning his mediocre cake with. 

That was until 3 days prior to the party when I FINALLY figured out this miraculous wonder I kept hearing about: Pinterest.  This was at 3:30am when I got up to pee.  I brought my phone with me to potty and that's where I fell in love with Pinterest.  We had a love affair in the bathroom for exactly one and a half hours.  Not only did I learn a few things, it got my creative juices flowing and while I did copy a few ideas I had seen, I came up with a few of my own too!  So, I changed the theme 3 days before the party from: dog to: Nautical.  Why hadn't I thought of this?  His name is Jonah, after all.  His entire nursery is done up in a nautical theme.  I was so stupid!  This was going to be awesome!  And it was....

This was the table spread.  Impressive, huh...huh?  Yeahhhh.  I did that.  Using decor from his room and other beachy decor from the house, I 'just threw' this together.  I'm so talented.  (lol)

This was the cake.  My own idea.  I made SIX freaking batches of cupcake mix from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's (of PPK) book Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.  I layered 2 square cakes for the base.  2 round cakes, which I cut into smaller squares for layer 2, and used smaller sized spring form pans for the upper 2 layers.  I used my own recipe for vegan Buttercream Frosting (see below for cake tips)

This was a Pinterest find. LOVE the idea!
This is a trifle bowl that I served Asian lettuce wraps in.  Recipe below.
Another Pinterest idea.  SOOO cute!
Eggless tuna salad on cuke rounds.  Recipe below.

My sweet baby boy.
 Cake Tips & Frosting Recipe

I am by no means a pro at this, but here are the tips I have learned. 

-To prevent frosting from tearing your cake apart when you ice it, freeze the cake first.  For example: for the bottom layer, I used 2 9" square pans (=2 recipes Golden Vanilla Cupcakes from PPKs book, 1 each pan).

-Allow to cool completely.
-Put the first cake right-side-up onto a platter.  Smear with lots of icing to fill in the cracks.  Put the second layer upside down so the super-flat bottom end is up and makes a nice smooth surface to work on.  Use icing to fill in the sides and make the sides smooth.  Then freeze.  Do this with each complete layer.  When those are frozen, take them out and stack them using more frosting.  Freeze again.  When ready, take the frozen stacked cake.  You can use a SERRATED knife to cut or shape your cake.  Then, working quickly so I didn't tear the cake apart with my iced spatula, I iced the entire cake, making it as smooth as I could.  Since this was a sand castle cake, I wasn't too picky.  Then, I used organic graham cracker crumbs, blended to a fine powder, pressed into the sides of the cake.  When I was done, I refrigerated it until it was time to set the table. 

Dairy-Free Buttercream Frosting
1/2 C vegan butter
1/2 C non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 Tbsp vanilla flavored non-dairy milk
4 1/2 C organic powdered sugar

Using a handheld mixer, cream the butter, shortening, vanilla and 'milk' together.  1/4-1/2 C at a time, blend in powdered sugar at medium speed.  Depending on the thickness of frosting, you can use more or less sugar.  I find 4 1/2 cups is perfect for a thick frosting that won't run. 

Asian Lettuce Wraps
2 Tbsp peanut or sesame oil
2 packages tofu, drained, pressed and cubed
2-3 bunches soba noodles, or small pack of udon brown rice noodles
1/2 red cabbage, shredded
1 bunch green onions, cut into 1" sections, white and green parts
3 large carrots, shredded
1 red chili, sliced
1 8oz can water chestnuts, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1" piece of ginger, minced or grated
1/3 C tamari or other natural soy sauce
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp ketchup
Lettuce leaves (I used romaine)

Heat oil in large wok.  Toss in tofu and cook over medium-high heat until browned.  About 10 minutes. Remove from wok.  Cook noodles as per package directions, drain and rinse with cold water.

Toss all veggies into wok, including garlic and ginger.  While it cooks, whisk tamari, toasted sesame oil, sugar, vinegar and ketchup in small bowl. 

Cook veggies until fork tender, about 5-8 minutes.  Throw tofu, noodles and sauce into wok and mix with veggies.  Cook an additional 2-3 minutes until sauce thoroughly coats everything. 

Serve with lettuce leaves and scoop mixture into leaves and eat like a taco.

Arugula Tuna Cukes
2 cucumbers, sliced
2 roma tomatoes, sliced
2 cans of  light tuna (troll or line caught! - be eco friendly!)
1/2 c loosely packed arugula
1 1/2 celery ribs chopped fine
1/4 c vegan mayo (i know, i know, this is not a vegan dish...but i do NOT eat real mayo. hello artery clogging goodness.  Yuck.)
1 tbsp prepared mustard (or use Dijon, German, spicy brown, etc)
1 tsp lemon juice
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Place tomato slices on top of cucumber slices.  Mix remaining ingredient together and place a small dollop of tuna salad on each round.



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