Wednesday, November 23, 2011

M's Birthday Party Series: Lootbags

 Since my baby's party theme is Pirate, I gave out treasure chest lootboxes. Bought the boxes from Chocolate Lovers for Php 89 for pack of 10s. Then inside I placed treasure-themed items (well, at least majority of them):


- RING pops
- iced gems cookies (Gems = treasure)
- Goya gold coins and golden balls bought from Chocolate Lovers
- gold/orange colored candies like Butterfinger, TofiLuk, Orange swits
- silver foil covered goodies such as mallows and choco crunchies
- non-themed food items are pixy sticks and oreos

for non edilble items I placed the following
- bubbles (bought these from eBay. they are angry bird designs so I just covered them using my own design)
- mini yoyos from Toys R Us (these are actually Ben10 yoyos. I covered them with my own design)
- play doh

I over estimated the amount of candies I bought. I wasn't able to put alot since the box was a bit small. The excess chocolate coins and balls, I placed them around the cake. Instant candy bar for the kids during the party

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

M's Birthday Party Series: Passion Cooks

Ever since I've tasted Passion Cooks during a birthday party of a friend, I knew that once in my life I should try to get them for an event. Sadly, their packages are always out of my budget. Not that they are THAT expensive cause they are reasonably priced. There are other caterers that are far more expensive. Maybe it's all because my budget is THAT small. I considered getting them for M's baptism since my husband gave me a reasonable working budget. However, since I only had a little over a week to prepare, looking for a venue was next to impossible hence getting PC was out of the question.

For M's first birthday, I've considered other caterers but a nagging feeling told me to inquire with them and see if they can accommodate my budget. From the very start I told the ever affable Maja Martinez that I'm working on a very tight budget and would only want a simple merienda cena menu. This is a practical choice since my party is only for 2 hours (an hour of playtime and another hour for eating). She did not brushed me off and simply said she'll see what she can do. After the long holidays, her AE Melissa was the one who contacted me. She presented the proposal and with a few revisions, we came up with this final menu:

Classic Spaghetti Bolognese
Meat sauce served on a bed of spaghetti with a good sprinkling of grated Parmigiano cheese

Quiche Lorraine (Bacon and Mushroom / Mint and Spinach)
Eggless, and baked to perfection in a pastry crust

Wild Mushroom Vol-au-vent
Savory wild mushrooms stuffed in a small hollow case of puff pastry

Chicken and Ham Crepe
Chicken, Ham and Cheddar cheese, rolled up in a sweet crepe, topped with gravy Sauce

Panna Cotta
Topped with caramel or strawberry sauce

The initial proposal for the desserts were Cream Puffs and Gelatin shots. But I so love their Panna Cotta that I must have that during M's party. Besides, my Tita Joy of Big Al's Cookie Jar provided her best seller Decadent Chocolate Cake and Butter Cake. Desserts overload!

Days before the party I was afraid that the food might not be enough. I ended up ordering cupcakes and mini taisan cups from Shoppersville. Also on the day of the party, I ordered mini corn dogs from a store near Gymboree. Totally bad idea. The food provided by Passion Cooks was more than enough. We had so much leftovers. My mom, lola, cousin and brother brought home some. We also gave a lot to some friends and to the guards in our condo but we still find ourselves swimming in leftovers. Not that I complain cause the food is really good.

Melissa and her team came early to the venue. The waiters were very courteous and attentive to the guests. My only complaint though was the head waiter did not clear with me first if they can plug the water heater for the coffee. Well, I didn't know they will be serving coffee. So Gymboree charged me Php 500 as electricity charge. I had to force my husband and his friend to have coffee there instead of going to Starbucks just so my Php 500 won't go to waste. But other than that slip-up, Passion Cooks delivered excellent service.

If you're interested in getting Passion Cooks check

M's Birthday Party Series: Invitations

After I got the Pirate Pocoyo images from my brother, I started working on the invitation. I was able to download a pirate digi-scrap kit from the internet. I used some of the elements to come up with this:

I mostly gave this out as e-vites (electronic invitation). But for those who received printed copies, they received theirs looking like this:

I made use some of my cupcake toppers to seal the envelopes. Double purpose! Cute eh?

M's Birthday Party Series: Theme

I have always wanted to a Pirate Themed birthday party. But hubby was not totally sold on to the idea because with the skulls and crossbones and the dark color scheme, it is not exactly a child-friendly theme. But I bargained that if I'm able to find a way to make it look lively, he should allow me to do a pirate themed party. 

First, I asked my brother to make me a pirate character based on Pocoyo. Why Pocoyo? Cause that's one of the very few cartoon characters M is familiar with. You see he rarely gets to watch tv. The only time he got a lot of tv time was when he hospitalized for a week last September for pneumonia. Yes, 2nd hospitalization for year 2011. Unlike when he was 3 months old, this time it was a lot harder to make him stay still. His IV was re-inserted so many times that I lost count. The only thing that can make him stay put was watching cartoons and Pocoyo was one of his favorites. Even now when you show him a picture of Pocoyo he suddenly gets excited. 

This was of our initial peg:

I asked my brother to make him look like a pirate and then change the candles from 100 to 1. He gave me this initial sketch for approval:

After I ok'd on the image, he started putting color into the image. It took some revisions before hubby and I both agreed to these two final images:
My brother got what I wanted

This one I used on my cupcake toppers

Cute eh? The kids' yayas (nannies) said the character looks a lot like M. What do you think?

M's Birthday Party Series

The little boy is turning 1 on the 17th and we're throwing a party for him on the November 20. We decided on having a small play party for him instead of doing a big party for two main reasons. First, we don't want him to get exposed to too many people. With his pneumonia scares this year, we're trying to limit his exposure. Second, we want to give him a party that we know he'll truly enjoy. Definitely, he will not remember his first birthday party but at least we know that he enjoyed it. And one thing he enjoys a lot now is Gymboree. Oh you just don't have any idea how much he loves Gymbo the Clown. So here's a quick rundown on how we are going to celebrate it. I'll go into details after the party:

Venue: Gymboree
Caterer:  Passion Cooks
Theme: Pirates
Invitations/Thank You cards: DIY
Cake: Les Sucreries (this I will still have to finalize)
Costume: Carter's Pirate Costume by Twinkle Toes (a multiply seller)
Lootbags: Treasure Chests; contents I still have to buy

I still have a million and one things to do for this party. Wish me luck!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Beer Can Chicken

Have you heard about Beer Can Chicken? Well I haven't until an expat friend told me over dinner to try this stall in the Saturday Salcedo Market. They sell what you call Beer Can Chicken and it's supposed to be sooo good. Well going to the Salcedo Saturday Market is out of the question (ummm, I usually wake up late on weekends). So with the help of Mr. Google I was able to replicate it. The one being sold in Salcedo is grilled but since I don't have the grilling space in the condo, I decided to bake it.

Things you'll need:

a whole chicken
half a can of beer (for my first try I used Red Horse)
olive oil
whatever spices you use for your favorite baked chicken (I used dried rosemary and a little of chili powder)

1) Preheat your oven to 175 degrees C
2) Using a paper towel, pat dry your chicken. Make sure you remove the giblets inside the cavity.
3) In a small bowl, mix your oil, pepper, salt and spices. Rub this into your chicken as well inside the cavity
4) Now, insert the can into the chicken and place into an oven safe dish. It should look like this:

5) Bake for an hour to an hour and a half until it's no longer pink at the bone and the juices run clear.

6) Remove the beer can. Let the chicken rest for a bit before serving. 

According to the hubby the chicken is very tender and juicy. It has that distinct flavor of the beer but it's not overpowering. Next time I'll try using premium beers like the Guinness.

Tell me how yours turns out...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Recipe: Mackarel Pesto Pasta

Sharing you my I'm-not-in-the-mood-to-cook recipe. At Php 150, this is good for 4-5 pax depending on your appetite

Mackarel Pesto Pasta

a can of mackarel (i usually buy Master or Ligo), remove brine/water and the bones of the fish - around Php 30 per can
Ideal Penne Pasta - around Php 50 per pack
half a pack of McCormick Pesto powder - around Php 30
3 pcs of tomatoes
a whole garlic chopped
a cup of olive oil (once when i ran out of olive oil, i used the regular vegetable oil i used for frying. i turned out ok)
a third to half a stick of butter
cheese cheese
small can of mushrooms (optional)

1) cook you penne. make sure not to overcook it cause you will have to cook this again with the sauce
2) in a pan, put in you oil, garlic, tomatoes and pesto powder. For the pesto powder, I usually put a 3rd of a pack. You can always add more if you want. Make sure your heat is in the lowest setting. You will be cooking these slowly. Add your butter, mackarel and mushroom. Add salt and cracked black pepper to taste.
3) once your tomatoes are cooked, add your cheese.
4) Add in your pasta once the cheese has partially melted. You may add oil if you find it a bit dry.
5) Mix well. Served with bread sticks


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