It's Party Time

I love a good party as much as the next guy. Not so much when it's my kid's birthday party. I always get a little stressed about them. I tend to counter that stress by spending too much money for someone to come entertain the mob. When did child parties become such a booming business? And who would be crazy enough to be in that business?

In the past few years, I've tried to spend less and go back to the parties of my generation. I don't remember ever being entertained at a birthday party. I would be dropped off, and then proceed to eat as much junk food without throwing up until my mom came back. Maybe that's why I was a fat kid? I just put that together now.

October is busy. Two of my kids have birthdays this month. I rented a bouncy castle for my six year old and it was a hit. That's my plan for every future birthday until they are twenty. After the kids went home, Jess and I went in and had a bounce off. I've never jumped so high in my life. The only downside was I almost peed my pants. But what the hell, it's a rental.

For loot bags, Reya's friends got homemade chocolate covered apples for their parting gift. It was cheap and delicious. Next time I would skip the shredded coconut, the kids just wanted the chocolate. Really you could skip the apple as well, but the presentation isn't as nice.

Chocolate Apples

6 apples, chilled
6 popsicle sticks
1 lb of semi sweet chocolate
1 cup of sweetened shredded coconut

Twist the stems off the apples, and insert a popsicle stick in the base of the apple. Heat chocolate until melted in a double boiler over medium heat. Dip apples in chocolate, and use a spoon to pour chocolate in hard to reach places. Once covered, sprinkle with coconut. Place on a plate covered with parchment paper and let set in the fridge.



I haven't posted in a while. My dad died suddenly a few days ago. This is the last photo I took of him. We had a complicated relationship. One full of love, anger, forgiveness, wisdom, and awkwardness. He tried to be a good father but sometimes he stumbled. I know he loved me deeply and I mostly returned that love. At times I was too angry to do so. My dad taught me to forgive. Indirectly he showed me that I could live a life of anger and hate or I could forgive and let love be my guiding force. We all have our demons but not everyone is strong enough to conquer them.
My kids saw a gentler side of my father and for that I am grateful. He was a loving grandfather, and enjoyed every moment he had with them. I hope their memories of my father remain with them always.
The last time I saw my dad was on Thanksgiving weekend for my daughter's birthday. We all had a good time, and it was the last meal I shared with him. I made spaghetti and meatballs and lasagna, as I do for all my kids birthday dinners. My dad always liked when I cooked Italian. He wasn't even close to being a vegetarian but enjoyed my veggie lasagna. I use to slave over my lasagnas but no longer have the luxury of making everything from scratch. So dad, here's my recipe. It will always remind me of you.

Lazy Man's Lasagna

9-12 oven ready lasagna noodles
1 jar of tomato sauce
250 ml cottage cheese
1 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1 cup grated mozzerella cheese
1 large bunch of baby spinach, chopped finely
1 250 ml jar of roasted red peppers, drained and finely diced
2 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 350 C. Lightly oil a 9 x 13" glass baking dish. Combine cottage cheese, spinach, eggs, and 1/2 cup Parmesan and 1/2 cup mozzerella in a large bowl. Mix well. Pour small amount of tomato sauce on the bottom of pan. Cover with a layer of lasagna noodles, then 1/3 of cottage cheese mixture and 1/3 of peppers. Repeat until all filling is in pan. Cover top layer of noodles with remaining tomato sauce and cheese. Bake for 45 minutes and serve hot.


Trashy Goodness

Man it was cold today. I guess it wasn't if you were dressed for it, but who was prepared? Certainly not me. We are trying not to turn on the heat until November 1st. Jess has decided that he is going to make a pie every night so the oven can warm up our house. I may crawl into our kettle and turn on the burner. I don't heat up well. Cold hands, warm heart as my ex boyfriend use to say.

This is also the time for comfort food. I've got two favorites. One is melted cheese on toast and the other is chicken and rice cooked with mushroom soup. Didn't every seventies mom make that one? It rocks and I don't know how to make it. I'm sure it's not hard. I could look up the recipe but I don't want to. I want my mom to make that one for me and if she's not available I want someone else to make it. It's the kind of dish that tastes better when it's served to you. It is not a high class fare but I've never claimed to be high class.

Here's another classic, tuna noodle casserole with a potato chip crust. Last week was the first time I had heard of potato chip crusts. Obviously I haven't been hanging out at the trailer park enough. My kids hated it but Jess ate the whole thing.

Tuna Noodle Casserole with Leeks and Fresh Dill
From Bon Appetit

1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups of thinly sliced leeks
1/4 tsp celery seeds
coarse kosher salt to taste
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup half and half (I skipped this and it was still creamy)
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
8 ounces wide egg noodles
1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese
2 tbsp chopped fresh dill
2 5 to 6 ounce cans albacore tuna, drained and broken into chunks
2 cups coarsely crushed salted potato chips

Butter 8 x 8x 2 glass baking dish. Melt butter in pan over medium heat. Add leeks and celery seeds, and sprinkle lightly with salt. Cover for about 8 minutes until leeks are cooked but not brown. Add flour, stir one minute and gradually add milk and half and half. Simmer until mixture thickens, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat.
Cook noodles, drain and transfer to a large bowl. Pour leeks sauce over noodles and add cheese, and dill. Mix well and then fold in tuna. Transfer to baking dish and cover with foil. Bake at 375F for 25 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle with crushed chips and bake uncovered for another 10 minutes.