Monday, September 14, 2009

hey, hey {for the} monkeys

Anyone remember that theme song from "The Monkeys" sitcom way back when...or am I dating myself? ;)

For the last couple months I've been planning a little surprise party for my hubby's upcoming 50th birthday {when I was first entertaining the idea, my heart sister, Kathy, offered the use of their home, so how could I refuse?!?), and coming up with a design theme proved to be more difficult than anticipated. I had always thought there'd be a LOT of selection {since SO many people have milestone birthdays...you'd think so anyway}, but I was really disappointed with what little I found. Then Kathy found THIS, and since I thought it was quite a bit more fun and colorful than the other two rather generic and droll options, I went with it. {I mean, having a moniker of stampmonkey and a certain 9-YO daughter who is known to climb as well as any monkey, it's not as if monkeying around is an unfamiliar concept to our family....lol!} ;P

So if you don't mind I've got some pics to share with you --not very good pics, but pics nonetheless.

Here's the invitation I came up with:

I did some masking for the party hat and had intended to add another one on top of it popped up for some dimension, but time got the better of me and I had to call it good at what you see here. The balloons were a lot of fun {and if you believe that one, I've got a wheel that spins straw into gold in my basement I could sell ya!}...good grief --now I know why people usually just draw the strings in! lol

I was trying to be frugal so chose not to go the traditional bakery cake route, so when I ran across a recipe for banana cupcakes last month AND this brown sugar buttercream frosting recipe {the hubby LoVeS brown sugar}, I thought they'd pair together nicely --and bananas and monkeys go hand in hand, right? ;) The cupcake batter tasted really yummy, but of course I didn't try a cupcake until the party --I didn't think a recipe from Bakerella needed to be tested...and they probably don't, but obviously my baking skills did-- my cupcakes were kinda dry and crumbly {and I'm sure it was something I did rather than the recipe itself, so don't let my efforts dissuade you from giving it a try}. The frosting totally made up for it though {at least I thought it did -lol}; it was absolutely delicious! Kinda hard to go wrong with any combination of cream cheese, butter, and sugar! Of course I ran out of time to pipe on the icing {I know, so what's new? lol}, so I just had to slather it on and call it good. Truthfully, I don't think anyone but me even thought about it. ;)

And after finding out that the cutest cupcake topper was just a tad too pricey for the budget, I opted to make my own. NOTHING AT ALL like that cute handmade, handpainted monkey I pondered for weeks --darn!-- but they worked {especially since no one really cared anyway -lol}. Here's how they came out {yep, Last-Minute Lucy was my name, again, last week...in addition to having a shorter week than usual because of Labor Day, along with a sore back and its accompanying chiro appointments, I opted to take the easy way out and not go with any cute little monkeys}: And here's a shot of the cuppies in all their glory resting on Martha Stewart tiered stands at the party, complete with the birthday candles {that had to be separated due to the fact that my "centerpiece," which was to have been a giant cupcake-shaped cake, Wilton pan style --the one that looks like something Attila the Hun might have worn to battle-- had some rather unfortunate and ultimately insurmountable issues...again, I'll take complete credit for that}. But we won't talk about that. It tasted pretty good {at home} though. So, again, not quite what I'd envisioned {and no one really cared...do you see a trend here with that?...not sure if it's a good or bad thing}, but it all worked out okay anyway.
I sponged the edges of the white inner circle, but it really doesn't show up at all in these pics. ;( I tried and tried but just couldn't get a good one to share with you. Sorry.
My mom used to make a delicious chocolate-banana cake with about eight different layers --I think next time that's what I'd do {I'm pretty sure it would be a HUGE hit with most people and there'd be no need to make the cuppie toppers with that either -lol]...though unless it's for his 75th, I can't see myself doing this again. But even then, I seriously doubt monkeys would be the theme. ;) Hmmm, maybe I'll just have to make the chocolate-banana cake for us pretty soon just because....

The party was on Sunday, and I can honestly say I'm glad it's over...and I'm sure Kathy is too -lol {thanks again, Kathy --I truly couldn't have done it without you...and Dan too}. Not to be mean, but never having thrown a surprise party before, I didn't realize how difficult it would be to get things done given the limited snippets of time that I have WITHOUT having the hubs catch on. But it was a BIG surprise to my guy {likely because his birthday isn't for a couple weeks}. The look on his face when he realized it was for him was absolutely priceless, and the way he is still smiling whenever he thinks about that day makes me so very happy and definitely makes all our effort very worthwhile. ;D

With all we've had going on lately I feel like I've been running around at full speed just trying to make it through each week {I'm sure you know the feeling}, and so now that the party's over, so to speak, and my chiro appointments are becoming less frequent I'm hoping to get back to my regular routine now....with more stamping! I've got a few really special birthdays coming up in the next couple weeks {*wink wink*}, and my list of cards to make that's as long as my arm, and Christmas is practically right around the corner {did I really just say that?! YIKES!}.

Thanks so much for the visit, and I hope you'll stop by again soon. Until then, many blessings to you!

Economy boosters (just doin' my part -lol!):

Changito Party invitation:

Cardstock: Kraft (SU!), Cranberry, (ret.) Key Lime, White Daisy (CTMH)

Patterned Paper: Complete Boy stack (My Mind's Eye)

Stamps: Changito the Monkey (Stampendous), U R A Hoot!, Birthday Bash (Cornish Heritage Farms),

Ink: Jet Black Staz-On (Tsukineko), (ret.) Key Lime (CTMH)

Other: Tags Trio die, Small Pinking Circle Nestabilities die, Small and Large Classic Circles Nestibilities dies (Spellbinders), Cuttlebug (Provo Craft), embossed zigzag border punch (Martha Stewart), mat pack (SU!), piercing tool, sponge (CTMH), waxed linen thread (unknown), foam mounting tape


Cupcake Toppers:

Cardstock: White Daisy, Key Lime, Crystal Blue, Cranberry (CTMH)

Stamps: Cupcakes (Hero Arts), Cookie Alphabet (Martha Stewart)

Ink: Cranberry, Key Lime, Crystal Blue (CTMH)

Other: Small and Large Classic Circles Nestibilities dies, Small Pinking Circles Nestibilities die (Spellbinders), Cuttlebug (Provo Craft), sponge (CTMH), Ultimate glue (Crafter's Pick), toothpicks, foam mounting tape

Thursday, September 3, 2009

{zucchini} recipes

Since LauraB asked for the zucchini bread recipe and has been so very patient with me, and my sweet daughter asked for the zucchini-rice casserole recipe I made earlier this week, I thought I'd just go ahead and share them both here because they both are really good {if you like zucchini}...and, just to give credit where credit is due, neither of them are my original recipes.

But just in case you aren't a zucchini fan, I thought I'd share a couple 'bread' recipe cards I made for my sweet daughter's collection last Christmas before getting into the recipes --and neither are for zucchini bread (not sure why??):


And: I'm sorry I didn't photograph the back sides of the recipe cards, so if anyone is interested in the rest of this recipe, just let me know in a comment and I'll be sure to share it with you. The Banana Bread recipe is from my mom (told you she's a really good cook!), and I'm pretty sure the Monkey Bread recipe is from allrecipes.com (I spend quite a bit of time there!).

Zucchini Bread
(adapted from allrecipes.com/ -- click HERE if you'd like to see the original recipe)

Ingredients:
3 eggs
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
2 c. white sugar
3 c. grated zucchini
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 c. whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 c. chocolate chips
1/2 c. chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease and flour two 8"x4" loaf pans.
2. In a large bowl, beat eggs until light and frothy. Mix in oil, applesauce, and sugar. Stir in zucchini and vanilla. Combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, salt, chocolate chips, and nuts; stir into the egg mixture. Divide batter into prepared pans.
3. Bake for 60-70 minutes, or until done. After about 10 minutes, remove loaves and let cool completely on a cooling rack.

Here's a pic of the Zucchini-Rice Casserole from the other night: My kids think I cooked the casserole a little too long because they aren't crazy about the brown-ness of the cheese on top. But that's okay...there's more for me! ;)

Zucchini-Rice Casserole
(adapted from my mom)

*I'm a cook-once eat-two-or-three-times kinda gal whenever possible, so this recipe makes about 12 generous servings. You could definitely scale it down to fit your needs.

Oh, and one other thing I discovered...I tried making it and freezing it (before baking), and didn't think it was very good. Maybe it was just me, but I just thought I'd throw that little tidbit in there for ya.

6-7 medium zucchini, scrubbed, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/4" slices
2 c. sliced mushrooms (COMPLETELY OPTIONAL! lol)
1 lrg. onion, chopped
6 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 Tbsp. minced garlic (or less if you're not trying to elude vampires)
6-8 c. cooked brown rice
4 eggs, beaten
1 lrg. (17.6-oz) container Fage Greek yogurt (any brand of plain would be fine too)
4 c. shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 tsp. ground pepper
1 tsp. salt

1. Coat a large skillet with olive oil and heat; and add the zucchini, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, and garlic, stirring constantly for several minutes or until the vegetables are tender and most of the liquid has evaporated.
2. While the veggies are simmering, mix together the eggs, yogurt, salt, pepper, and mozzarella (reserving about 1 c. of the mozzarella for the topping).
2. Remove the skillet from the heat, and set aside to cool slightly. Stir in the rice and then the egg/cheese mixture.
3. Coat an oversized 9"x13" baking dish (or lasagna pan) with non-stick cooking spray (I've found it's not necessary if using a ceramic dish), then spread the mixture evenly in the dish. Sprinkle the Parmesan and remaining mozzarella cheese over top, and bake at 350 degrees F (165 degrees C) for about 50 minutes until browned and bubbly {or until the cheese is browned to your --or your kids'-- liking -lol}. Remove the dish from the oven and let sit for five minutes before serving.

Hope you enjoy them both. ;)

We're leaving in the morning to go camping for the long weekend, so I've got to get back to work. Wishing you all a wonderful holiday weekend!

Thanks so much for the visit, and I hope you'll stop by again soon. Until then, many blessings to you!



Economy boosters (just doin' my part -lol!):

Going completely from what memory the pics can stir up, cuz I didn't write it down when I made them (sorry)
Banana Bread recipe card:
Cardstock: White Daisy, Buttercup (CTMH)

Patterned Paper: My Mind's Eye

Stamps: Itty Bitty Bananas (Lockhart)

Ink: Jet Black Staz-On (Tsukineko), Heavenly Blue (CTMH)

Other: Prismacolor pencils (Sanford), odorless mineral spirits (Mona Lisa), blending stumps (Loew-Cornell), Liquid Glass, sponge (CTMH), border punch (Martha Stewart), Classic standard and Scallop Nestabilities Circle dies (Spellbinders), Cuttlebug (Provo Craft), computer
Monkey Bread recipe card:
Cardstock: White Daisy, Cocoa (CTMH)
Patterned Paper: Urban Prairie collection (Basic Grey)
Stamps: Changito (Stampendous)
Ink: Jet Black Staz-On (Tsukineko), Hollyhock (CTMH)
Other: Prismacolor pencils (Sanford), odorless mineral spirits (Mona Lisa), blending stumps (Loew-Cornell), sponge (CTMH)