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Jessie’s 10th Bruffday Paw-ty

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I’ve always wanted to throw a birthday party for Jessie and somehow never found the energy while she was our only child, but managed to pull it off when another little someone was commanding most of my time and attention.  I felt like she really deserved it this year since she had to start playing second fiddle to the human puppy after so many years of being #1.

I created the invitations on PicMonkey (I’ve been using the free version for about a year now, although it’s only $5 a month if you want to use the premium features), and had them developed as pictures at Walmart in an hour for 16 cents each.  I bought a box of envelopes on sale that fit 4×6 pictures and use them every time I create invitations or cards on PicMonkey, so if you calculate the total cost it’s still less than a quarter each – much less than you’d usually pay for custom invitations and cards! I’ve become very crafty with my frugality since becoming a SAHM. It’s amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it – necessity has bred a lot more creativity in me than I previously thought possible.

I wanted to spend the least amount of money possible while still having a nice party, so we served hot dogs, which I thought very appropriate for a dog party.

I had a lot of fun with the food table and coming up with dog-related names/signs for everything.  I bought the majority of my supplies at Dollar Tree where, you guessed it, everything is $1.  I got this wire basket there, and wrapped $1 napkins from Walmart around the $1 plasticware from Dollar Tree and then made napkin rings out of  strips of brown paper sacks that I also got from Dollar Tree.  I used the paper from the sacks to make my signs, and also as party favor bags, so I got a lot of use out of them and still have quite a few left for future use.

I found these large plastic dog food bowls at Dollar Tree, and they were the perfect size to serve food out of.  Paw-tato Chips, Puppy Chow, and Kibble & Bits.  For the latter, I mixed cheese balls with Cheddar Chex Mix that I purchased.

I got most of my ideas on Pinterest (click here to see my Doggy Stuffs board that has lots of party ideas and more), but the Paw-sta Salad was totally my idea. :)  I used the Tangy Pasta Salad recipe I posted Monday, using paw and bone-shaped pasta that I got from my SIL as a gift a few years ago (I also threw in a can of sliced black olives, just for fun).  I was so happy to finally put it to good use!  It was a hit both for the cuteness factor and taste – I got more compliments on it than anything else.

Tee hee. :)

I really had fun making dog-friendly cupcakes, or PupCakes, if you will.  These are totally my own recipe and turned out so great – Meatloaf PupCakes with Mashed Potato Frosting and bacon “sprinkles.”  Huge hit with the pups!

The humans enjoyed Cookies ‘n Cream Cupcakes after the doggies had their “cake.”  I made the paw prints using mini Oreos and chocolate chips.  If you’ve never made this cake, you need to.  I’m not an Oreo fan and even I love it.  Seriously good cake, peeps.

Jessie enjoyed having friends over, especially her BFF, Doc (pictured above).  But since most of the dogs are older and it was pretty warm, they mostly enjoyed just lazing in the pool and shade.  If you are going to have an outdoor dog party in summer, you really need to have lots of shade, lots of water to drink, and a kiddie pool to help them cool off is a great idea too!

Jessie got so spoiled with gifts – lots of toys and treats!

And we sent all the doggies home with party favor bags filled with toys & homemade dog treats.

It was a great time for both furry and human guests, and I’m really glad we gave Jessie the celebration she deserved.

Happy birthday, sweet girl!

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Meatloaf PupCakes with Mashed Potato Frosting

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Jessie turned ten earlier this month and I decided that I was finally, finally, going to throw her the birthday party I’d always wanted to throw her ever since we got her.  I had invitations I meant to use for it so long I finally ended up selling them at our garage sale last year, thinking I would always have too much going on to actually do it.  Ironically, I ended up throwing her a birthday party the year I’m most busy, with a little human puppy taking up most of my time.  Just goes to show, you always have enough time for whatever you put your mind to.

I plan to do a whole separate blog post about the party because it was the sauce, if I do say so myself, but first I wanted to share the recipe I made for the PupCakes.  Rather than make something flour-based, I decided I wanted to go with meat-centric PupCakes because, let’s get real here, it’s a rare dog that prefers a flour & fruit-based treat over a meaty one.  Jessie is alll about the meat.

So I just threw together a bunch of stuff that seemed like it might make good dog-friendly (i.e. no onions) meatloaf into a bowl, mixed it up, and took a tiny taste test after baking.  Wow, I was impressed!  The only salt in the recipe comes from the ketchup, so I thought it would be rather bland, but these are so good I wished I’d made extra to enjoy along with the pups!  I added a mashed potato “frosting” that I thinned with yogurt.  So healthy and delicious, and the dogs devoured them! (Don’t be fooled by Doc giving up his to Jessie in the video, he’s so sweet that if Jessie even looks at him when he has a treat, he drops it so she can have it.  Kind of breaks my heart, actually! lol)  Even the little tiny dogs ate an entire PupCake by themselves. I’d say they are definitely dog-approved. :)

Meatloaf PupCakes with Mashed Potato Frosting

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 ½ teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup finely diced red bell pepper
½ cup finely diced zucchini
1 egg, beaten
1 lb 93% lean ground beef
½ cup quick oats
1 teaspoon parsley flakes
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/2 cup ketchup

Frosting
2 large russet potatoes, peeled
1 cup plain yogurt
Milk to thin

Optional garnish: real bacon bits

Remove ground beef from refrigerator to allow the chill to come off while you begin the recipe. Heat oven to 350°F. Line 9 muffin cups with foil liners; set aside.

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil, red pepper, and zucchini, and sauté until softened, about 5-10 minutes. In large bowl, combine the cooked veggies with the remaining pupcake ingredients until well combined. Roll mixture into 9 large balls and place in prepared muffin cups.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until meat thermometer inserted in center of loaves reads 160ºF. Cool slightly in muffin cups.

While loaves are baking, cut potatoes into large chunks. Place in 3-quart saucepan, cover with water, and heat to boiling. Reduce heat; cook potatoes until fork-tender. Drain; return to saucepan. Add yogurt and beat with an electric mixer, adding milk as necessary, until creamy and smooth like frosting.

Place potatoes in a 10-inch decorating bag and snip the tip as large as you want it to come out. Alternatively, you can place them in a Ziploc bag and snip the corner. Remove the pupcakes from the muffin pan and place on serving plate. Starting at outside of each cake and in a circular motion, pipe potatoes onto each meat loaf. If desired, garnish with bacon bits. Serve warm or room temperature.

A Veronica’s Cornucopia original

Tangy Pasta Salad

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This was the first recipe I ever pinned from Gina’s blog, At Home My Way, and that was years ago.  I’m so glad I finally got around to making it because it’s mega delicious, easy, and perfect for summer potlucks!  I’ve already made it for two of them in as many weeks and might have traded a few meals to enjoy an extra big bowl of it. LOL!  It’s really good stuff – not the typical dressing with oil or mayo (which means it won’t go bad in the heat!), but nice and tangy and fresh.  Love it!

Tangy Pasta Salad

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 (16 oz) package tricolor spiral pasta
1 medium red onion, diced
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 medium cucumber, seeded and diced
1 medium green pepper (or red or yellow or orange, or some of each!)
1/2 red or white (sweet) onion, finely sliced and the rings cut into 1/4ths

Dressing
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup white or apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon ground mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Cook the pasta according to package instructions to al dente. Drain and rinse thoroughly with cold water until the pasta is cool to the touch. Add to a large bowl along with remaining salad ingredients.

In a small saucepan, mix together the sugar, ground mustard, salt, and garlic powder. Mix in the vinegar and cook over medium heat until sugar is dissolved, 2-5 minutes. Pour over salad and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 2-6 hours; serve cold with a slotted spoon.

Veronica’s notes: you can use a smaller package of pasta – I used both 12 and 14 oz packages and both salads turned out fine. Unfortunately the leftovers aren’t great so this is best eaten between 2-6 hours after making it. The pasta is fine the next day, but something happens to the vegetables and they just aren’t’ as good – the salt probably draws a lot of water out of them, and they just don’t seem as fresh or tasty.

Recipe source: At Home My Way

Neiman Marcus Dip

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I was perusing Minda’s Cooking after a long hiatus and I pinned everything I saw and then made it within a week.  OK, so it was three things, but that’s kind of epic for me. I pin tons of things (seriously, I’m almost at 8,000 pins), but rarely make them, let alone all at once. Minda’s blog was speaking my language, though.  First it was the  Frito Salad. Then it was this dip.  Then it was the Crockpot Chicken & Stuffing. Bring on the easy-to-make comfort food.

OK so we’ve already established that dip is my thing.  Dip is like majorly my thing.  If dip were a man, I would marry him and then eat all our dip babies. OK, maybe that’s going a little too far, but not by much.  And this dip is so, so good.  Totally meets my dip standards because it’s fat, plus more fat, plus some more x 2, with onions, which means it’s delicious. Can’t go wrong with quadruple fat plus onions.

All kidding aside, this dip is some serious goodness.  It’s creamy, crunchety, bacony goodness.  Make it, and you’ll be a superstar at your next potluck, game day, or to yourself as you spend some quality alone-time with it.

Neiman Marcus Dip

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

5-6 green onions, sliced (both white and green parts)
1 (8 oz) package cheddar cheese, shredded
1 (3 oz) package real bacon bits
1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds, toasted & cooled completely
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise

Stir all ingredients together well in a mixing bowl.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Recipe source: Minda’s Cooking

Biscoff Butter Bars

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This month my Secret Recipe Club assignment was Annie’s Noms and I was in heaven. A baking blog with the majority of recipes given with grams instead of cups!  Be still my beating heart. :) While I enjoyed scouring through her recipes to find the one, I actually found it in the first thirty seconds but just had to keep looking because, hello. A baking blog. I love you and all your desserts, Annie!

I knew before I even saw the recipe that her Biscoff Butter Bars were exactly what I wanted to make. Hello. Biscoff and butter? Gimme gimme. If you haven’t had Biscoff yet, it’s cookie butter – smooth and creamy like peanut butter but made with lightly spiced cookies instead of peanuts.  Yes, seriously, cookie butter really is a thing, and it’s so good.  I encourage you to try it.  Most supermarkets, including Walmart, sell it now, and can be found by the peanut butter usually. Annie likes to eat it on croissants and that sounds like heaven!! Personally, I try not to buy it too often because it inevitably gets eaten spoonful by spoonful until I’ve devoured the entire jar in a shamefully short amount of time. But adding it to a butter-laden recipe, while perhaps even more sinful, makes it a lot easier to share with others and keep it off my own hips.

Unfortunately, I ended up eating more than my fair share anyway. Although I over-baked them a bit (something I previously considered an unforgivable culinary sin until I had a child and realized that over-baking is sometimes unavoidable), they were so good it was hard to stop eating them. Butter makes everything better, even something as perfect as Biscoff.

Please stop by Annie’s blog to see how beautiful these bars are when baked perfectly, and check out her other yummy desserts!

Biscoff Butter Bars

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

½ lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temp
½ cup (3 ½ oz / 100 g) granulated sugar
¾ cup (3 oz / 84 g) powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups (8 ½ oz / 242 g) all-purpose flour
1 (14.1 oz) jar Biscoff Spread

Preheat the oven to 325F and grease a 9×9 in pan. Place the butter and sugars into a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes on med-high speed. Add the vanilla extract and flour and mix until a soft dough forms. Press half the dough into the greased pan (wrap remaining dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate) and bake for 12-14 minutes, until puffy and ever so slightly firm to the touch. It will not look done.

Allow the base to cool for 15 minutes. Once cooled, spread the Biscoff over the base, leaving a 1/4 inch gap around the edge. Crumble the remaining dough over the top of the Biscoff and bake for 20-25 minutes, until puffy, very lightly golden and slightly firm to the touch. Allow to cool completely before removing from pan. Slice into 12-15 bars.

Recipe source: slightly adapted from Annie’s Noms.

My baby is turning into a little boy!

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Joshua has been developing and growing so much since I posted when he was a wee five months. Now he’s a big 6 1/2 months and this is what he’s accomplished in the last month and a half…

He’s fallen in love with Jessie!  This photo was during a week-long stay at Grandma & Grandpa Miller’s and is the only one I have of them together, though it doesn’t reflect his love for her.  Every time she goes past him now, he gets a huge smile on his face and reaches for her.  She doesn’t like to be touched by him yet (he’s a bit grabby) but will allow it if I’m there to help make sure he’s gentle.  She rarely licks us but she licks him every chance she can get so on some level, she must like him…or at least likes the way he tastes. :)  Here’s a video of the first time he pet her (sorry it’s dark), and you can also see her taking advantage of his nearness by giving him a tongue bath lol:

He started rolling over from back to tummy while we were on vacation there, and is now sleeping not only without a swaddle, but on his side or belly because he refuses to be on his back any more and rolls immediately when put in his crib.  When I took the above picture, I felt a little catch in my heart because it was the first time I really felt like I was already losing my baby.  He looks like such a little boy in his shorts and T-shirt, rolled onto his side without his arms in the straight-jacket look of a swaddle.

He found his feet and loves to hold on to them while he’s drinking his bottle, or laying on the floor, or the bed, basically he holds them a lot. It’s pretty cute. :)

He’s become interested in other kids, including himself!  He loves looking at his reflection and smiles like this every time.  Whenever a child five or under is in his vicinity, he is mesmerized.  It’s about time to start having baby play dates. Here’s a video of his first baby lunch date:

He learned to read! OK, maybe not, but I had to include this pic of him checking out my Taste of Home magazine. He’s my little foodie baby.

Speaking of my foodie baby, here he is taking his first spoonful of real food (rice cereal).  He was ready for it!  When he saw it coming he grabbed it and insisted on feeding himself.  LOL!  This was before we even had baby spoons and his high chair was still in the box.  We are doing a combination of pureed/mushed foods and soft foods like peas, zucchini microwaved and sliced into coins, and banana chunks.

This way of feeding a baby is called Baby Led Weaning, which I discovered through other blogging mothers and they had such success with it I thought I’d give it a try.  I have to say, he and I both prefer when he can hold his own food and feed himself.  It’s less messy (so far, I’ve heard in the end it’s about the same) and less work, and I don’t have to fight him to get him to eat.  He seems to enjoy it much more when he’s in charge.  He doesn’t want to take food from a spoon much any more. Here’s a video of him chewing on a bread stick -he didn’t eat it but he sure had fun using it as a teether! lol

 

While I’m not ready for him to be a little boy, I have to say he’s more and more fun the older he gets. I don’t want him to grow up too fast, but I’m looking forward to all the fun we’re going to have along the way.

Frito Salad

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I have an internal maniacal laugh every time I say or even think, “Frito Salad.” Saying the words “Frito” and “Salad” in the same recipe title just makes me giddy with hilarity. Reminds me of one of my favorite eCards…

This “salad” is basically my two favorite things combined. Chips and dip (and one of my all-time favorite dips at that). And it’s called a salad. WINNING! :D  To be fair, it’s a little healthier than regular chips and dip because of all the corn (and some peppers & and onion), but let’s just get honest here.  This ain’t my Momma’s kinda salad.  But it sure is mine. >:)

This salad is downright delicious and would be great to bring to any potluck you might be attending in the near or distant future. I know I will be!

Frito Salad

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

3 (14.5 oz) cans of whole kernel corn, drained
1 green pepper, seeded and finely diced
1/2 of a small red onion, finely diced
1 cup (4 oz) grated cheddar cheese
1 1/4 cups mayonnaise
1 (9.25 oz) bag of Chili Cheese Fritos

Stir the corn, green pepper, onion, cheese and mayonnaise in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Just before serving, mix in Fritos, reserving a handful to lay on top as a garnish. Serve immediately.

Veronica’s Notes: The original recipe called for red pepper along with the green, so feel free to sub in half of the green for red to make it prettier. Also, if you know you will have leftovers, add the chips to the individual servings rather than all at once, because the chips will get soggy and gross.

Recipe source: adapted from Minda’s Cooking

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