Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Australia Day Party

First of all.....that was fun!!  I love my friends and I was so happy that they could come out and celebrate with us.  Finding Aussie food locally can be a bit of a challenge.  I made a lot from scratch (the desserts) and we ordered some meat pies and sausage rolls from a bakery in Georgia that makes aussie pies.  It was a bit pricey having those shipped to us but so worth it.  If there is food I miss, a good meat pie is definitely in the top 5! 

The menu was Aussie sliders, Thai chili chicken skewers, meat pies, sausage rolls, potato salad, tim tams, mixed lollies, pavlova, vanilla and passionfruit slice, lamingtons and chocolate crackles. 

The sliders/burgers had some aussie fixings such as pickled beets (beetroot) and pineapple.  A fried egg is a must have on burgers but we weren't sure the best way to make that happen except frying eggs to order and then they would be too big for sliders so we left them off :)  It worked out and everyone seemed happy and brave enough to try beets and pineapple on their burgers.  Did I mention how I love my friends? 

I purchased some hors d'oeuvres sized plates and bowls at Party City for a couple of the desserts.  The pavlova fit perfectly in the bowl with some custard/cream, fresh berries, kiwi fruit and passionfruit pulp and was the perfect size serving for the most delicious dessert on the face of the planet.  Yep I said it.  It really is, you should try it!  Unfortunately I didn't get pictures of the pavlova dishes :(  guests had arrived when I was making it and then they didn't last long :)  You'll have to trust me that they looked good and tasted even better.

The other dessert that I plated on those adorable little dishes was a vanilla custard slice, this is a dessert that has layers of buttery puff pastry, vanilla custard cream and the top was glazed with passionfruit glaze.  The recipe called for three layers of puff pastry, but because I was making bite size desserts I went with two, it wouldn't have been easy for my guests to eat a taller vanilla slice in one or two bites.

Chocolate crackles are the aussie version of a rice krispie treat.  Kind of.  Not really.  It is the recipe you will find on the side of a Kellogg's Rice Bubbles (Krispies) box.  They are a favourite birthday party treat and something that instantly brings me back to my childhood.  They are crunchy, coconutty and chocolatey.  A winning combination in my book.  A key ingredient to chocolate crackles is Copha.  Copha is not readily available here in the states and I was actually able to get my hand on my first block of it since moving here in 1996.  I was SO excited!  It made all the difference in creating authentic chocolate crackles.

Again keeping the food bite size,  instead of making full size crackles I made mini ones, using a mini cupcake pan and liners.  This worked out really well and they can be rich, I might continue to make this size in the future.

I also made lamingtons from scratch.  These are made with sponge cake, which isn't readily available here but isn't too complicated to make from scratch and I love sponge cake.  I baked it in a 8" square pan and cut it into (2ish) bite size pieces before dipping them in chocolate icing and rolling them in dessicated coconut.  They didn't last either so I think they tasted ok :)

We also provided Aussie drinks.  We were able to get Bundaberg brand soft drinks including Lemon, lime and bitters and aussie root beer from World Market and lots of Aussie wine.  My wonderful friends also brought me bottles of Australian wine as hostess gifts (we might have cracked into at least one of those as well), they know me so well.

A great time was had by all!

Happy Australia Day!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Happy Australia Day!

As an expat Aussie living in the United States I miss celebrating holidays like "Australia Day".  This year I am finally having an Australia Day Party.  Since Australia Day was on Thursday this year I have postponed festivities until the weekend.

So stay tuned for details :)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Surprise 10th Birthday

I have been so behind with life that keeping up with the blog seemed like a pipe dream.  However, I need an outlet, this seems like a good place to meet that need :)  On August 20th our third baby turned 10.  He was going to be our last baby, DH even had the vasectomy to ensure that, but sometime after he turned 3 I started yearning to expand our family.  Dh and I discussed it and researched our options and decided on a vasectomy reversal.  Now C is our middle child and he had for a few years asked to have a birthday party where he takes Taekwondo.  Unfortunately for him we used to always travel near his birthday and the cost of the party was just not within our financial limits.  This year though we decided not to go on that trip and he got the party he wanted!  To make it more special we decided to surprise him.  Not an easy task but everyone did a good job of helping us keep it a secret.  C loves Lego so it wasn't difficult to come up with a theme.  I went back to my favourite Aussie party printable seller on Etsy and bought the printables. 

On the day while C was showering, M and I ran out to pick up the pre-ordered balloons (under the guise of picking up a gift).  J was going to bring C, O, F and S to meet us at a restaurant for lunch (we always go out for a birthday meal) where we would give him this gift :).  Alas the car broke down ;) when we were by the dojo so they had to come and get us from there.   All the guests had already arrived and M and I had set up the party table, so when C walked in everyone was ready to yell "Surprise".  The look on his face was priceless and I am so glad we were able to pull it off.  A big thanks to all of our favourite people who made his 10th birthday one to remember.

Campbell walking in the door to our "Surprise!"

Lemon and Chocolate cupcakes, Campbell's favourites

All worship Campbell

Cutting the cupcakes with the Samurai Sword

Printables for the goody boxes.  I bought the boxes at Walmart for $1 per four and used my cricut to cut out 4 inch and 3 inch circles in primary colours.  I then used raised craft stickers to adhere the circles together and give them a little more visual interest.  Inside there were peanut butter cups with birthday printables on them, fastbreaks, lemon heads with a lego printable topper and a baggy of loose legos for free building.

I found sticker paper that can survive the ice and printed the printables I purchased.  I tried several different paperes and spent more than I probably should have but having cold water was very important to me :)

We kept this sign for his room, I think it is so clever and love that he can have it as a keepsake.

After the party we went out to lunch/dinner.  Campbell ordered ribs, I know it's blurry but this picture is so him :)