Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Surprise Birthday for Kohlton Who Turns 18 Next Monday + Lots of Recipes from the Party

During the last few weeks, Ellie has been quietly orchestrating a surprise party to celebrate Kohlton's 18th birthday. She worked to invite people, plan the menu, clean the house and decorate the backyard - all without Kohlton picking up even the smallest hint of the upcoming event. It was pretty hard to keep the secret, get it all of the details worked out and tasks completed, all during the first week of school of school with kids in session (for me. It is one of my busiest weeks of the school year.)But she managed to do it.
Mark and Britt, Kohlton's parents, told Kohlton that the family would go out for a nice meal to celebrate his birthday and Ellie would be invited along, of course. Our guests arrived in time to gather in the big room, around the corner from the kitchen so that Kohlton would not see them when he entered the house. Britt, Kohlton, Linda and Sid arrive and Ellie asked them in so that we could take a photo. It was the perfect guise. Once he rounded the corner, his reaction to our cheers and well wishes was wonderful. (Kohlton is great like that.)
After people had a chance to gather, cheer and enjoy a few bites to eat, we sang happy birthday and presented the cakes. You see, Chuck, one of our guests, was also celebrating his birthday, so Katy (his granddaughter) made him his favorite chocolate cake. Ellie made a special cake for Kohlton. It was a handmade chocolate cake with chocolate and coconut frosting, topped with chocolate curls (it turns out that milk chocolate is very soft and creates curls that break easily. Next time we will use a darker chocolate to make the curls.)Ellie was thrilled when Britt thought that the cake had come from Das Myers, one of the best local bakeries.
We had dinner and enjoyed each other's company. And then there were presents for both of the birthday guests. Chuck opened his first.
Chuck and Karen just purchased a ranch in the suburbs where there is enough room for three houses, goats, chickens and the like. Thus, Chuck needed some instruction. I thought these books were wonderful. One is about urban goats and is published by the Goat Justice League. (I love that!)
Then came Kohlton's turn. He started off with a funny card from James. It was actually a sympathy card that he altered. Kohlton's reaction was an hoot! The card from his father was funny, too.
Remmie was thrilled and wanted to be in the middle of everything. He tried his best to get everyone's attention and was a bit sad that his shenanigans did not work.
Afte that we all settled in and enjoyed each other's company. Dusk gently let way to a lovely night with a slight breeze. The lights that Ellie set up in the back yard lent a nice ambiance. The men enjoyed cigars and everyone's company. Guests went home one by one and the evening was finished off with Ellie, Kohlton and James laughing at silly videos. I dare say, I am pretty sure that boy could not have asked for a better birthday.

We are serving:
Pizza Rolls (homemade)
BBQ Chips
Chili Con Queso dip with Tortilla Chips

Sweet Tea
Bottled Water
Mint and Pineapple Infused Water
Mountain Dew
Dr. Pepper

Corn on the Cob
Mac and Cheese ala Cure Family
Cheese Burgers

Ice Cream Bar with-
Homemade vanilla ice cream
chocolate ice cream
whipped cream
chocolate sauce

Homemade Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Frosting and Chocolate Curls

Pizza Rolls
Via: Artisan Bread in 5, slightly modified

1 pound Pizza Dough (about the size of a grapefruit)
1/2 cup pizza sauce or crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
Pepperoni or other favorite toppings

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Set up 2 or 3 baking sheet pans with parchment or Silpats, set aside.

Roll the dough out to a 1/4-inch thick rectangle, using enough flour so the dough doesn’t stick.

Layer on the sauce, cheese and pepperoni. Leave some of the cheese exposed so that it can melt and act as a glue, to hold the pizza rolls together.

Roll the dough into a log, starting at the long end.

(If you are making this ahead of time, you can apply a thin coat of olive oil to the roll and wrap it with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge until the next day. Allow it to come to room temperature so that the bread can raise a bit before baking.)

Using kitchen shears, cut the dough into 1/2-inch thick buns. (The authors of the recipes only baked 16 and then wrapped the rest of the log, refrigerated it and will bake it later this week. You can also cut and freeze the individual pizza rounds to thaw and bake within the next 2 weeks.)

Place them on the prepared sheet, leaving plenty of space for them to expand when they bake. Allow them to rest on the counter for about 15-20 minutes.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown and the cheese has melted and caramelized a bit.


Four Cheese Mac and Cheese ala The Cures (Family)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 (16 ounce) package elbow macaroni
9 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup shredded Muenster cheese
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
8 ounces cubed processed cheese food
2 eggs beaten
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the oil and the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente drain well and return to cooking pot.

In a small saucepan over medium heat melt 8 tablespoons butter stir into the macaroni.

In a large bowl combine the Muenster cheese mild and sharp Cheddar cheeses and Monterey Jack cheese mix well.

Add the half and half 1 1/2 cups of cheese mixture cubed processed cheese food and eggs to macaroni mix together and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a lightly greased deep 2 1/2 quart casserole dish. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese mixture and 1 tablespoon of butter.

Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes or until hot and bubbling around the edges serve.


Chocolate Cake

2 cups Flour
1 3/4 cups Sugar
3/4 cup Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs (at room temp. if time allows)
1 Egg Yolk
3/4 cup buttermilk (at room temp. if time allows)(I actually use 3 TBS of Buttermilk Powder, mixing it in with the dry ingredient, then I add 1/2-3/4 cup of water to the wet ingredients)
1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla
1/3 - 1/2 cup Boiling Water

Chocolate Icing
1 1/4 cups butter (at room temperature)
1 1/4 cups shortening (at room temperature)
9 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa powder
4-5 tbsp water/milk

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Prepare three 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper circles in the bottom, and grease & flour, the sides as well as the parchment on the bottom of the pan .

Add all dry ingredients to a large bowl and whisk together. Add eggs, buttermilk, vegetable oil and vanilla to the dry ingredients and stir until just mixed.

Add just enough of the boiling water to make a very thick batter, much like a brownie batter. If the batter is too thin or watery, the center will sink during the last stages of cooking. Mix just enough to incorporate the ingredients.

Divide the batter into three 8 inch cakes pans and bake at 300 degrees for about 30-33 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs.Remove cakes from oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, then remove to cooling racks to cool completely. (It is best if the cake can be made the day before being frosted so that it is completely cool when frosting it. Once the cakes have been turned out and are reasonably cool, cover them with plastic wrap. If they are cooling on a plate, place the parchment from the bottom of the pan onto the plate, placing the cake on the parchment to prevent it from sticking to the plate.)

Make icing while cakes cool. Beat together butter and shortening until smooth. Slowly add 4 cups of powdered sugar and mix until smooth.Add vanilla and 1-2 tbsp water or milk and mix until smooth.
Add another 5 cups of powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Add cocoa and mix until smooth.Add more water or milk until the right consistency.

Once cakes are cool, remove cake domes from top with a large serrated knife.Place first layer of cake on cake plate. Spread about 3/4 cup of icing on top in an even layer. Add second layer of cake and add another 3/4 cup of icing on top in an even layer. Add final layer of cake on top and ice the outside of the cake. Finish of with sprinkles or other decoration.

And, because it has been such a crazy, busy, full week, I had to find a little inspiration to keep me going. Today it is in the form of a video of Luis Pastor's small, but amazing sketchbook. I don't actually know who he is, but I think I am going to find out. Perhaps it will offer you some joy as well:


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