Tuesday, February 22, 2011

the birthday boy

Stu's Birthday - February 9th

I woke up that morning and made my sweet birthday boy blueberry pancakes for breakfast. :)


Then, I immediately started preparing for tonights dinner. The original guest list was 2, just him and I. And then we thought we should invite Stu's flying buddy Jeremy over... but Dan and his wife are in town to so we should invite them too... this process continued until about mid-morning when Stu told me to expect like 10 people! I certainly did not plan for 10! So I had a little bit of a freak-out moment, going "I don't have enough meat!" -- "I don't have enough sweet potatoes!". To help easy my mind the birthday boy took me grocery shopping again.... -- in trying to plan for this little shindig I had managed to take trips to the grocery store everyday for the last 4 days making sure I was fully prepared, and still he throws me a curve-ball-change-of-plans! I was planning to make mashed sweet potatoes with all the buttery and cinnamon goodness whipped up inside the dish, but Stu informs me, that same day, that he wants baked sweet potatoes, not mashed. Another swift alteration needed to be made, but I continued to move diligently, because I wanted everything to be just the way he likes it for his birthday.

do I look frazzled?

Just to make things a bit more interesting/entertaining/chaotic the kitchen in his apartment on base is a joke. It is seriously the size of the playhouse kitchen set I had when I was a toddler. So I have limited space for everything. Oh and did I mention we don't have a oven. Which is an obstacle I knew ahead of time and was prepared to work around, but with more people I needed more space. In an attempt to help fix this new dilemma, Stu asked Jeremy if we could cook and have the party at his place. Jeremy kindly agreed and said that we were more than welcome to do whatever we needed over at his place. Jeremy is also living on base, but his family visits him on the weekends so he has a much nicer and much bigger living arrangements. The best part though...is that for the last week or so Jeremy has been staying in a Best Western in town because the running water doesn't work in his base housing. Awesome. He assured me that the oven and electric and everything works but I just can't wash anything or use the bathroom. :) ha!

I had started cooking my BBQ ribs in the slow-cooker at Stu's apartment around 9 a.m. and after finding out that Stu was requesting baked potatoes I had to flip the script on that recipe a little bit too. I washed the potatoes. Instead of using all the ingredients I had bought to mix into the (mashed) potatoes, I mixed them separately to make a delicious sweet and cinnamon butter, which had to let set and cool after I mixed it. Because we had to run to the grocery store and get more meat I had to quickly cook more ribs on a skillet and toss them in with my already slow-cooking ribs in the Crock-Pot. We had enough meat to feed a small village!

So after shopping for last minute necessities and transporting my entire kitchen to Jeremy's kitchen, I was ready to get this show on the road!

Now at Jeremy's, it was about 4 p.m., I started immediately on my sweet potatoes. I coated them in Virgin Olive Oil, wrapped my cooking sheet in tin foil and popped them into the oven right away! These sweet potatoes were HUGE, I'm talking potatoes on steroids! We had six potatoes total and decided to cut them in half before serving. With the potatoes getting all warm and delicious in the oven I moved on to my fruit salad. This was the fruit salad of all fruit salads! At Stu's request this fruit salad was comprised of apples, bananas, kiwi, strawberries, pineapple, peaches, mangos, blueberries, and mandarin oranges, served tossed in a strawberry pudding! It was delicious and I made a ton of it!

Delicious fruit salad!

this cinnamon butter looks questionable but it was so good on the potatoes!!

Things got a little frantic when I looked at the clock and it was 5:30. People are coming over at 6:00 and in a tizzy to get everything going I haven't even started getting ready! Thankfully I had showered earlier that morning, but I was still in sweats and my hair look like a hot mess!

I popped a couple bags of frozen veggie steamers in the microwave and let those heat up, while I quickly tried to tame my mane, fix my face, and dress myself. While getting ready I continued to check on my sweet potatoes and they were still hard. I started to panic because guest would be showing up any minute! I realized this was a desperate moment and I need a lifeline, so I called my mom. She told me that they just need a little more time in the oven and I should probably crank up the heat. I also cut them in half at this time to make sure the middle of the potatoes were getting cooked throughly. I shoved those potatoes back in the oven and threw my steamed vegetables into a serving bowl. Everything was coming together.

the potatoes were perfection when took them out of the oven

steamed broccoli and cheese

At Stu's request, I wore my hair up, because he thinks I look cute with my hair up. :)

the happy couple

People started walking through the door at 6ish and my potatoes were getting soft. It was great timing. Everyone sat around the living room and visited with each other for a little while. During this time I had to spread some garlic butter over my texas toast and warm those up in the oven. It only took a few minutes for the bread to golden and everything was ready to serve!


Stu and his Air Force buddies

It was my first attempt cooking for a big group and everything was wonderful!

the man I love

Happy Birthday to my Sweet Boyfriend!
I love you!


(click read more to see recipes)


Blueberry Pancakes 
1. 1 cup milk
2. 1 egg
3. 1 cup pancake mix (Bisquick or any baking mix)
4. 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

I used the Magic Bullet to whip together my pancake mix. This little device as come in handy! Since I'm working with a tiny kitchen and limited kitchen supplies, the Magic Bullet has been a very useful tool. It is quick and easy to clean up. 

I add the milk, egg, and pancake mix to the Magic Bullet and give it a few quick pulses to blend the batter. (You can also had a few blueberries to the mix. The blueberries turn the batter a light shade of blue, which can be a fun breakfast meal for kids or for the kid in all of us!) 

Pour 1/4 cup portions of batter onto a greased pan and cook over medium heat. Top it off with a handful of fresh or frozen blueberries (I used frozen blueberries). Make sure your blueberries are evenly spaced. If they are too close together the batter has a harder time heating all they way through and your batter will not be fully cooked. Once the edges look dry flip the the pancake and cook until golden brown. Pour some of your favorite syrup on top and enjoy! 

BBQ Ribs (in Crock Pot)
1. 3 to 4 lbs. boneless spare ribs
2. 1 onion, sliced
3. 3 cloves garlic, minced
4. 1 (16 oz.) BBQ sauce 

Uncover your meat and sprinkle with salt and pepper. For a big party of people you may have more than 3 to 4 lbs. I had 3 packages of Beef spare ribs weighing about 3 lbs each (just make sure your crock-pot can fit it all). Place ribs under broiler or on a pan until browned (up to 15 minutes) and remove excess grease. 

Spray your crock pot before you go to cook any ingredients, this will ease your clean-up process. Put sliced onion and minced garlic in crock pot. Slice ribs into serving pieces and put in crock pot. Pour BBQ sauce over ribs. I used a Honey Barbecue Sauce, it was perfection! :) 

Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours...this is what I love about crock-pots! Set it and forget it! 

Throughout the 6 - 8 hours I stirred the meat a few times, just to make sure everything was completely coated in sauce and cooking evenly. The recipe doesn't call to stir, but I did. 

The ribs were a huge hit!! Everyone loved it!! I definitely recommend ribs for your next party! 

Fruit Salad with Pudding

This recipe was a test and a great success! Stu gave me a list of all the fruit he wanted in his fruit salad:
1. apples
2. kiwi 
3. bananas 
4. strawberries
5. pineapple
6. mangos
7. peaches
8. blueberries 

...talk about a fruit salad! 

Instead of a fruit salad mixed with whip cream, he wanted it mixed in pudding. I used 3 packages of Strawberry instant pudding. I was feeding a lot of people so this was a huge fruit salad! I followed the instructions on the package to mix the pudding. For one box of pudding it asked to pour 2 cups of cold milk into a bowl and add the mix. I had 3 boxes and 6 cups of milk. Beat or whip until blended and then let sit (about 1-2 minutes). Then add all your sliced/cut fruit and mix throughly. It was delicious!   

NOTE! ** the water from the fruit may water down the pudding use more or less to your own preference.**

Baked Sweet Potatoes

I had 6 huge sweet potatoes! Wash and rinse the skin of your potatoes. Cover your cooking sheet with tin foil. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Poke the skin of your potatoes with a fork and bake potatoes for 45 minutes. If your potatoes are normal size this should be enough time and heat to have them fully cooked (depending on how firm or soft you like your potato). 

Because my potatoes were ginormous, I took them out of the oven after 45mins and cut them in half and then put them back in the oven for another 30min. They were super soft and delicious! 

Texas Toast

I bought Texas Toast bread at the grocery store, but you could also use any kind of bread. I melted 2 tablespoons of butter in a bowl and sprinkled in some garlic salt. I used a brush to spread the garlic butter onto the bread slices and then popped them into the oven for about 5-6 minutes or until golden brown. Ready to serve! 

Steamed Broccoli and Cheese

I'm not going to lie....little to no effort went into the veggies. I was too busy trying to make sure the sweet potatoes were PERFECT! because they are Stu's favorite. :) The veggies were in the frozen food isle at the grocery store. They come in steam-ready bags and I had two. I popped them into the microwave and heated according to the directions on the back. Placed it in a serving dish and it was ready to go! Tada! :)

Happy Cooking! 

No comments:

Post a Comment